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Ex Comm

The Executive Committee consisted of senior members of the National Security Council established by President Truman in 1947. The think tank's critical discussions were secretly recorded and submitted to the President. Dissolved in February 1963, Ex Comm had proved so efficient that it was reactivated some time later under the name of "Permanent Group".

Ex comm
Ex Comm deliberating
over the Crisis
Ex Comm meeting
October 29, 1962.
Ex Comm meeting
Besides the President, its members were:

Lyndon B. JohnsonLyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973) from Texas, elected to the House of Representatives in 1937 and a Senator since 1949. He had run against Kennedy in the 1960 presidential election and became his vice-president. During the Cuban crisis Kennedy relied on his expertise in Congress matters. He succeeded Kennedy after the Dallas assassination and was elected to a full term in 1964. He initiated wide-ranging social and political reforms while stepping up the US commitment in Vietnam.

John and Robert KennedyRobert F. Kennedy (1925-1968) the President's younger brother, and his closest aide. First a lawyer, he was Attorney General from 1961 to 1964. His role in Ex Comm was decisive. He was assassinated in 1968, as he was running for president.


Theodore Sorensen (born 1928), was originally a lawyer; he became the assistant of Senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1953-1960) whom he followed to the White House as special adviser (1961-1964). Reputed to have been Kennedy's most loyal collaborator, he advocated a blockade and wrote the statement which the President issued on 22 October.

Dean RuskDean Rusk (1909-1994), moved up through State Department hierarchy and occupied the position of Secretary of State from 1961 to 1968. An experienced diplomat in the days of the Truman Administration, he was influential in shaping the US policy on Vietnam. From 1969 to 1984 he was a professor at the University of Georgia.

McGeorge Bundy (1919-1996), a Republican Boston brahmin and former Dean of the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Science, joined the Kennedy administration and became National Security Adviser (1961-1966). A hawk, the Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs advocated massive air strikes against Cuba. He was also influent in shaping the US Vietnam policy. After 1966 he became president of the Ford Foundation until 1979, and taught at the University of New York.

Kennedy et MacNamaraRobert McNamara (born 1916), the Secretary of Defense, once president of the Ford Motor Company, was a technocrat. Kennedy trusted him. During the crisis he advocated a blockade. He was also a staunch supporter of the US commitment in Vietnam.

George W. Ball (1909-1994), first an Under Secretary in the Department of Commerce, became Under Secretary of State (1961-1966); he organized the embargo. He advocated a naval blockade and opposed offensive military intervention.

John McConeJohn McCone (born 1902), a Republican businessman who had been Deputy Secretary of Defense in 1948 and Under Secretary of the Air Force (1950-1951) was chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission from 1958 to 1960. In November 1961, after the Bay of Pigs fiasco, he succeeded Allen Dulles as Director of the CIA until 1965. As early as August 1962 he was convinced that the deployed SAM-2 missiles, which had been spotted by a U-2 pilot, were there to protect nuclear bases.

Maxwell TaylorGeneral Maxwell Taylor (1901-1987), had been Chief of Staff of the US Army in the Eisenhower administration. A trusted fiend of Kennedy's, he was nominated Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1962-1964) and was a hardliner during the Cuban crisis. He was Ambassador to South Vietnam (1964-1965) and had been Military Adviser to the President.

Llewellyn Thompson (1904-1972), had been Ambassador to Moscow (July 1957-July 1962). He advocated the blockade, was confirmed as Ambassador-at-Large (1962-1967), and became Acting Deputy Under Secretary of State.

John McCloy (1895-1989), a high-powered politician, served under seven presidents. He had been Chairman of the World Bank and High Commissary to Germany before becoming one of Kennedy's advisers. He coordinated US-Soviet negotiations over Cuba at the UN.

Paul H. Nitze, born 1907, an investment banker, had been Director of the State Department's policy planning staff (1950-1953). He was Assistant Secretary of Defense between 1961 and 1963. A hawk, he advocated immediate military action against Cuba. He was also in charge of the discussion group concerned with the Berlin situation and a possible retaliation to Soviet action. He became Secretary of the Navy (1963-1967) and Under Secretary of Defense.

C. Douglas Dillon, born 1909, a Republican businessman (Château Haut-Brion), had been Ambassador to France (1953-1957) and Under Secretary of State (1959-1961). Kennedy made him Secretary of Treasury (1961-1965). An anticommunist hawk, he first advocated strikes on Cuban bases, but finally came round to more moderate views.

Alexis Johnson (1908-1997), had been Under Secretary for Eastern Affairs (1951-1953), Ambassador to Czechoslovakia (1953-1958) and to Thailand (1958-1961). He was Deputy Under Secretary for Political Affairs (1961-1964), Vice-Ambassador to South Vietnam (1964-1965) and Under Secretary of State (1965-1966).

Kenneth O'Donnell (1924-1977), a member of the President's inner circle, he was a most important adviser, often in the background.

Roswell Gilpatric (1906-1996), had been Under Secretary of the Air Force (1951-1953). He was president of Aerospace Corporation (1960-1961) and Deputy Secretary of Defense as of January 1961.


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