Thirteen Days (2000) Script


What the... Who's that?

You're dead.

Who grabbed me? Who grabbed me? Watch out!

Who grabbed me?

Honey, you're gonna be late. What'd you grab me for?

Mom, I can't find my shoes for school.

They're under the couch.

Sit down. Yeah.

Dad, will you sign my permission slip for tomorrow?

Give it to your mother.

Your mother's arms are full.

You got time for pancakes? Nope.

Give us another one, Dad.

Secretary of Defense.

Dean Rusk.

Wrong. And you get to wax my car.

Rusk is State, moron. It's Robert McNamara.

Attorney General.

Too easy.

Yeah, it's Bobby Kennedy.

All right, wise guys. Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America.

That's too hard.

Wait a minute. This isn't a permission slip.

This is your report card.

Have you seen these grades?


All right. Gotta go. Be good.


I'm talking to you later.

Morning, Evelyn. Hi, Ken.

Ooh, those candies are for the kids. Is that right?

Morning, Floyd. Good morning, Mr. O'Donnell.

Morning, Jackie. Hi, Kenny.

Want a schedule? No.

Why'd you cross all my people off the list?

Because you don't have anybody on it who means anything.

No votes there. There's no money. It's a party, Kenny.

And the one thing we both can be sure of is that you don't know how to have a party.

Well, party to you, politics to me.

So, who do you want? For real?

Everyone on my list.

I don't want to spend an entire evening pretending that your votes and money are more interesting than they really are.

And I want my kids to stop eating the candy in the Oval Office.

That's not me.

Then who is it?

I don't rat on my friends.

Well, I'm going to take this whole list thing up with your friend.

Are you trying to go around me?

Go around you, over you, through you... Whatever it takes.

You're starting to bug me.


I'll get back to you.

Top of the morning, Mr. President.

Morning, Kenny.

Just ran into your wife.

Want to talk about this party? No.

You see Homer Capehart's tirade today? I did.

I don't see why he needs to invent an issue.

He's got his election sewn up.

Even so, we should still go out for Bobby.

It's good groundwork for us in '64.

Look into that, uh...

That Vietnam thing.

What, the 2 planes that went down? Yeah.

It didn't make it before press time.

I haven't taken a look at the West Coast papers yet, but I doubt we'll see anything till tomorrow.

I was eating that.

No, you weren't. I was.

No, you weren't. I was.

I was, you bastard.

So, what do we got today?


That's it.

That's the one we're looking for.

I need to see the President, Kenny. All right.

2:30 to 2:45 or 4:30 to 5:00. Take your pick.

No, I need to see him now, Ken.

You can go on up. I'll let him know you're coming.



That's not what you said.

What'd I say? Tell me what I said.

That's not what...

Listen to me, you worthless piece of shit.

Now, you will put Daley's man on the circuit, and you'll do it today.

You owe your goddamn job to this administration.

Yeah, I can... I can hear how grateful you are, but there's a word you need to learn.

It's the only word in politics.

It's called loyalty. Loyalty!

Now, any part of this you don't understand?



This isn't the blessed order of St. Mary the Meek.

Look, you better come in here.

What was it you were saying to me the other day about Cuba?

It wasn't important?

Not as far as the election goes.

Mac, let's, uh...

Can I see that for a second?

Ken, you used to look down a bombsight for a living.

Just ignore the labels. What does that look like to you?

I don't know.

What is it?

On Sunday morning, one of our U-2s took these pictures.

The Soviets are putting medium-range ballistic missiles into Cuba.

They appear to be the SS-4, range of 1000 miles, 3-megaton nuclear warheads.

Seen here in this year's May Day Parade in Red Square.

Jesus Christ in heaven.

White House operator.

Yeah, Mr. O'Donnell, please, for Secretary McNamara.

Go ahead, please.

White House operator.

I've got the President for the Attorney General. Go ahead, please.

What the crap is going on today?

That's right. That's right.

The principals are assembling in an hour.

We'll see you then.

Where's Bobby?

He should be here any minute. Well, good.


Where the hell are you?

We're in here.

Jesus Christ, guys. What the hell is Khrushchev thinking?

You have any indication of this from your KGB pal Bolshakov?

Any possible warning, sense of motivation?

Complete snow job.

And then we went out and told the country they weren't putting missiles into Cuba.

Jesus, I...

I feel like we caught the Jap carrier steaming for Pearl Harbor.

Good morning, gentlemen. Good morning, Mr. President.

Mr. Secretary. Mr. President.

Bob, I'll bet you had a late night.

Sleep is for the weak, Mr. President.

Max. Mr. President.

The CIA's been notified.

McCone's on his way back from the West Coast.

He's been burying his stepson.

General Carter is here, though.

Ted. Kenny.


Let's have it.


Gentlemen, as most of you now know, a U-2 over Cuba Sunday morning took a series of disturbing photographs.

Our analysis at NPIC indicates that the Soviet Union has followed up its conventional weapons buildup in Cuba with the introduction of surface-to-surface medium-range ballistic missiles, or MRBMs.

Our official estimate at this time is that this missile system is the SS-4 Sandal.

We do not believe that the missiles are as yet operational.

Ironbark reports that the SS-4 can deliver a 3-megaton nuclear weapon 1000 miles.

So far, we've identified 32 missiles serviced by about 3,400 men, undoubtedly all Soviet personnel.

Our cities and military installations in the Southeast as far north as Washington, D.C.

Are in range of these weapons and in the event of a launch would have only 5 minutes of warning.

5 minutes, gentlemen.

In those 5 minutes, they could kill 80 million Americans and destroy a significant percentage of our bomber bases, degrading our retaliatory options.

The Joint Chiefs' consensus, Mr. President, is that this signals a major doctrinal shift in Soviet thinking to a first-strike policy.

It is a massively destabilizing move.

How long until they're operational?

General Taylor can answer that question better than I can.

GMAC... Guided Missiles Intelligence Committee... estimates 10 to 14 days.

A crash program could limit that time, however, I must stress that there may be more missiles that we don't know about.

We need more U-2 coverage.

Gentlemen, I want first reactions here.

Assuming for the moment that Khrushchev has not gone off the deep end and intends to start World War Ill, what are we looking at?

Well, Mr. President, I believe my team is in agreement.

If we permit the introduction of nuclear missiles to a Soviet satellite nation in our hemisphere, the diplomatic consequences would be... too terrible to contemplate.

The Russians are trying to show the world they can do whatever they want, wherever they want, and we're powerless to stop them. If they succeed...

It'll be Munich all over again.

Yes. Appeasement only makes the aggressor more aggressive.

And the Soviets will be emboldened to push us even harder.

Now, we must remove the missiles one way or another.

Now, it seems to me the options are either some combination of international pressure and action on our part till they give in, Or...

We hit them...

An air strike.


We worked up several military scenarios.

Before I ask General Taylor to take us through the various options, I'd like for us to adopt a rule.

If we decide to strike, we must agree now to do it before the missiles become operational, because once they are, I don't think we can guarantee getting them all before at least...

At least some of them are launched.

Well, it's clear we cannot permit Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba.

We have to get those missiles out.

You know, I don't think it's going to matter what Khrushchev's intentions are.

I can tell you right now, I don't see any way around hitting them.

If we hit 'em, kill a lot of Russians, they'll move against Berlin.

All right, they attack Berlin, that's NATO, and we're at war.

We're damned if we do, but if we don't, we're in a war for sure somewhere else in 6 months.

Well, if there are alternatives that make sense, and I'm not saying that there are, then we need them, and we need them fast.

All right. What about Congress?

Now, I think we may need to start letting key people know, and they're all scattered across the country for the campaign.

We can get Congress back.

We're gonna need to get the U.N. stomping and warmed up.

What about the allies?

We can't start worrying about everything.

Right now we got to figure out what we're gonna do before we worry about how we're gonna do it.

We've got a bunch of smart guys.

We lock 'em in a room and kick 'em in the ass until they come up with some solutions.

I'll do it.

It's too politicized with you in there anyway.

They need to be able to stick their necks out.

Yeah. It'll be the principals, a couple of the key guys from each Department...

The Executive Committee of the National Security Council.

Call it EXCOM.


So, I'm only gonna show for the meetings that you call me into.

And impress us.

Do it fast.

And, Kenny, you're gonna be in charge of keeping this thing quiet.

I mean, if word gets out before we know what we're gonna do, there's gonna be panic.

And it's gonna ruin any chance we might have at surprise if we decide to hit them.

We're gonna need to do a few things right away.

No Pierre.

He knows, the press knows.

And you're gonna have to keep up your schedule.

Your movements are followed too closely.

Well, George Ball's got a conference room at State.

Good. You meet over there this afternoon.

We'll figure out some way to sneak you guys back in here tonight.

I think we should bring in Dean Acheson.

Kenny, he was fighting Soviets while we were still playing ball together at school.

Find him, Kenny.

We're gonna need all the help we can get.

Screw secrecy.

You try having that fat ass sit on your lap all the way from Foggy Bottom.

You were excited. I say no more.

Everybody agrees the diplomatic route won't work.

It's too slow, and they'll have the missiles finished while we're still talking.

I hear old Warren Harding used to get his girls in through here.

We have 850 planes assembling at Homestead, Eglin, Opa Locka, MacDill, Patrick, Pensacola, and Key West.

Due to the tropical foliage, the OPLAN calls for high explosive and napalm load-outs for our ground-attack sorties.

I still think there are diplomatic approaches we haven't considered yet.

Jesus, Adlai, peace at any price?

We have a gun to our head.

We have high confidence in the expanded air-strike option, Mr. President.

The problem is, sir, is that it's a short-term solution.

Khrushchev can send in more missiles next month.

The Chiefs and I believe we should follow up the air strikes with a full version of OPLAN 316.

An invasion? Yes, sir.

We can be sure we get all the missiles, and we remove Castro so this can never happen again.

Is this the Joint Chiefs' recommendation?

Yes, sir. Our best option, as Bob pointed out this morning, would be to commence the strikes before the missiles become operational.

The invasion happens 8 days later.


What do you think?

Gentlemen, for the last 15 years, I've fought here at this table alongside your predecessors in the struggle against the Soviet.

Now, I do not wish to seem melodramatic, but I do wish to impress upon you a lesson I learned with bitter tears and great sacrifice.

The Soviet understands only one language... Action.

Respects only one word... Force.

I concur with General Taylor.

I recommend, sir, air strikes followed by invasion, perhaps preceded by an ultimatum to dismantle the missiles if that is militarily viable.

So, it appears we have 3 options.

Number one... A surgical air strike against the missiles themselves.

2... A much larger air strike against their air defenses along with the missiles, and 3...


So, we're certainly gonna do number one.

We're gonna take these missiles out.

It seems to me we can't wait very long.

We should at least be making those preparations.

We're preparing to implement all 3 options, though I must stress again, sir, there are risks to the strikes without the follow-on invasion.

You want to be clear, Mr. President, that we've definitely decided against a political track.

Dean, uh...

How does this all play out?

Your first step, sir, will be to demand that the Soviet withdraw the missiles within 12 to 24 hours.

They will refuse.

When they do, you will order the strikes, followed by the invasion.

They will resist and be overrun.

They will retaliate against another target somewhere else in the world, most likely Berlin.

We will honor our treaty commitments and resist them there, defeating them per our plans.

Those plans call for the use of nuclear weapons.

So what is the... What is the next step?

Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail before we reach the next step.

Thank you, gentlemen.

What happened in there?

I thought he was gonna give us his decision.

Look, I know them. They just need to make sure there's no other way.

They'll get there.

Remember that Kennedy's father was one of the architects of Munich.

There's only one responsible choice here, so let's hope appeasement doesn't run in families.

I fear weakness does.

Jesus Christ.

Call... Call me Irish, but I don't believe in cooler heads prevailing.

You know, they think I froze in there. You didn't freeze.

You did exactly what you should've done. You stayed out of the corner.

You didn't decide.

Well, Acheson's scenario is just...

It's unacceptable, and he's got more experience than any of them.

There is no expert on the subject.

I mean, there is no wise old man. There's...

Shit. There's just us.

The thing is that Acheson's right.

Talk alone is not gonna accomplish anything.

Well, let's bomb the shit out of 'em.

Everybody wants to. I mean, even you.

I mean, even me.

Right? It sure would feel good.

And, Jack, I'm as conniving as they come, but a sneak attack is just wrong.

Things are happening too fast. I mean, this is starting to smell like the Bay of Pigs all over again.

Well, tonight, listening to Taylor and Acheson, I kept seeing Lemnitzer and Dulles telling me all I had to do was sign on the dotted line, and the invasion would succeed, and Castro...

And Castro would be gone.

Just... easy... Just like that.

You know, there's something...

immoral about abandoning your own judgment.

We just can't let this get out of hand.

And we're gonna do whatever we have to do and make this come out right.

I'm gonna stay here tomorrow. No, you can't.

Remember, we talked about this, your schedule.

The best thing you can do tomorrow is go to Connecticut.

He's right.



Doesn't anybody in Connecticut have to work today?

I love you, JFK!

The full spectrum of air strikes is the minimum response the Joint Chiefs will accept.

No, no, no!

Now, there is more than one option here, And if one isn't occurring to us, it's because we haven't thought hard enough.

Bobby, sometimes there is only one right choice, and you thank God when it's so clear.

You're talking about a sneak attack.

How will that make us look?

A big country blasting a little one into the Stone Age.

Oh, we'll be everyone's favorite.

Come on, Bobby, that's naive.

This is the real world.

You know that better than anybody.

And you weren't so ethically particular when we were talking about options for removing Castro over at CIA.


If we go ahead with these air strikes, you know what it'll come to in the end.

There has got to be something else.

Give it to me.

Now, I don't care how crazy, inadequate, or stupid it sounds.

Give it to me.

6 months ago, we gamed out a scenario.

It's slow. It doesn't get rid of the missiles.

It's got a lot of drawbacks.

The scenario calls for a blockade of Cuba.

The situation is worse than we thought.

We now count 40 missiles.

40 missiles.

Longer range IRBMs.

They can hit every place in the country except Seattle.

Mr. President, you give me the order right now, my planes will be ready to carry out the air strikes in 3 days time.

All you gotta do is say go.

My boys will get those red bastards.

General, how long until the Army's ready?

We've just begun the mobilization under cover of a pre-arranged exercise, sir.

We're looking at another week and a half.

But you can order the strikes now.

The plans call for an 8-day air campaign.

It'll light a fire under the Army's ass to get in place.

General LeMay, do you truly believe that's our best course of action?

Mr. President, I believe it is the only course of action.

America is in danger.

Those missiles are a threat to our bomber bases and the safety of our nuclear deterrent.

Now, without our deterrent, there's nothing to keep the enemy from choosing general nuclear war.

It's our duty, sir, our responsibility to the American people to take out those missiles and return stability to the strategic situation.

The big red dog is digging in our backyard, and we are justified in shooting him.

Sir, we have a rapidly closing window of opportunity where we can prevent those missiles from ever becoming operational.

The other options do not guarantee the end result that we can guarantee.

However, as more time goes by, the less reliable the choice we can offer you becomes.

Mr. President, the motto I chose for SAC is "Peace is our Profession."

Now, God forbid we find ourselves in a nuclear exchange, but if launched, those missiles from Cuba would kill a lot of Americans.

The very presence of those missiles gives the Soviets first-strike capability.

Those missiles make a nuclear exchange more likely, and that is why I'm being such a pain in the ass about destroying them and dstroying them immediately.

Hell, even Mac agrees.

And, sir, given your own statements about Cuba, I think a blockade or a bunch of political talk would be considered by a lot of our friends and neutrals as a pretty weak response.

I suspect that many of our own citizens might feel the same way.

You're in a pretty bad fix, Mr. President.

What did you say?

You're in a pretty bad fix.

Maybe you haven't noticed you're in it with me.

Now, General, what are the Soviets gonna do when we attack?



Nothing, because the only alternative open to them is one they can't choose.

You know, they're...

They're not just missiles we're gonna be destroying, General.

If we kill Soviet soldiers, they're gonna respond.

I mean, how would we respond if they killed ours?

No, they're gonna do something, General. I can promise you that.

Those goddamn Kennedys are gonna destroy this country if we don't do something about this.

We're headed out to the backyard to take a look for that big red dog.

Thanks, Bob.

I was hoping LeMay pushed you, because I was ready to knock that son of a bitch across the room.

We knew it was coming. And I'll tell you one thing, Kenny, those brass heads have one big advantage.

That is, if we do what they want us to do, there's none of us gonna be left alive to tell 'em they were wrong.

Mr. President, we need to go over what you're going to say.

Gromyko should be on his way by now.

Now, there's still no sign that they know that we know about the missiles.

Well, we're gonna keep it that way.


I'll be right there.

I'm getting funny questions from the guys.

Yeah? What sort of questions?

About some sort of military exercises?

You want me to do my job handling the press, I need to know what's going on.

Military exercises? Yeah, military exercises.

Haven't heard anything about it.

Ask Bundy.

I did. He said to ask you.

Mr. Gromyko, this way, please.

Mr. Dobrynin, what are your hopes for the meeting?

Mr. Gromyko, can you give us a statement, please?


Hugh, how are you? Good.

Excuse me, Joan.

So, tell me about this military exercise that's going on down in Puerto Rico.


It's called ORTSAC, I believe. Castro spelled backwards.

ORTSAC? I... I don't know what you're talking about.

Me, either. Why?

Well, because maybe the President and Gromyko are gonna talk about it.

If you're trying to drum something up, Johnny, forget it.

This meeting's been on the books for months.

Far as I know, it's just a friendly talk on U.S.-Soviet relations.

Sir! Sir!

Mr. President!

All right, hold it, guys. Hold it. You'll get your pictures.

Does it?


I'll be damned.

Kind of simple for the Pentagon.

What is this meeting about, sir?


Mr. Gromyko, thank you for coming.

Hold on, guys. One minute.

Gentlemen, would you mind shaking hands?

So that there should be no misunderstanding the position of the United States, which has been made clear by the Attorney General to Ambassador Dobrynin here, I shall read a sentence from my statement to the press dated September 13th.

"Should missiles or offensive weapons

"be placed in Cuba, "it would present the gravest threat to U.S. national security."

Mr. President, as Premier Khrushchev's own statement of September 13th assured you, our military assistance to Cuba is of a defensive nature only.

So I do not misunderstand you, There are no offensive weapons in Cuba?

Premier Khrushchev's statement of September 13th remains the position of the Soviet Government.

To that, I have nothing to add.

Well, that's good enough for me.

Thanks so much.

Thank you.

Gentlemen, if you'll come with me, please.

A most constructive meeting.

What happened? Lying bastard.

Lied right to my face.

We're split down the middle.

If I held a vote, I think air strike would beat blockade by a vote or two.

I want a consensus. I mean, either air strike or blockade, but something everyone's going to stand by, even if they don't like it.

I need it by Saturday. Make it happen.

What if I can't?

We go into this split, the Russians will know it.

They'll know it and use it against us.

Have you canceled Chicago and the rest of the weekend yet?

If you don't show for Chicago, everyone'll know there's something going on.

I don't care. Just cancel it. Forget it!

I'm not calling and canceling on Daley.

You call and cancel on Daley.

You're scared to cancel on Daley?

You're damn right I'm scared.

Well, I'm not.

Watch this.

Welcome to Chicago, Mr. President.

Mr. Mayor, I wouldn't miss this event for the world.

Mr. President, over here!

Mayor Daley!

Let's go.

Tonight, you're going to experience some true Midwest...

Kenny! What's going on?

Now the guys are hounding me about some troop movements in Florida?

What are you telling them?

The truth... I don't know.

Am I out of the loop on something? No.

Tell them you've looked into it, and all it is is an exercise.

Oh, and, Pierre, Tomorrow, the President may have a cold.

A what? A cold.

Kenny, do I get any input around here?


How bad it is is up to you.

You know, there are major rail disruptions in the South.

2 Airborne Divisions are on alert.

Sounds to me like that exercise is an invasion.

Well, you know how Bobby has it in for the state of Mississippi.

We're invading Cuba.

Damn it, we are not invading Cuba.

Are you crazy?

Nobody gives a rat's ass about Cuba...

Not now, not ever.

If you print something like that, all you're going to do is inflame the situation.

Nobody talks to assholes who inflame situations.

Assholes like that can find themselves cut out of the loop.

That's the first time you've ever threatened me.

All right.

I won't print anything until I have another source, But I promise you, I'll get one.


We've got a consensus for a blockade, but it won't last past tomorrow, Kenny. You have to bring him back.

Oh, by the way, China invaded India today.

You're kidding, aren't you?

I wish I were. Galbraith's handling it in New Delhi.

Makes you wonder what's coming next.

Jesus, what is it about the free world that pisses the rest of the world off?

I don't know. We have Tupperware parties?


I'll see you tomorrow.


The President has a cold.

He's canceling the remainder of this trip and returning to Washington on the advice of his doctor.

President Kennedy!

Is it true you have a cold, sir?

How do you feel, Mr. President?

Mr. President!

What's the next step going to be, Mr. President?

Mr. President, our deliberations have led us to the conclusion that a blockade of offensive weapons to Cuba is our best option.

A strong showing of support from the Organization of American States would give us an umbrella of legitimacy.

A blockade is technically an act of war.

Therefore, we recommend calling the action a quarantine.

Let's hope that translates into Russian the way we want it to.

There are between 20 and 30 Soviet ships underway to Cuba at this time.

800 miles out, the Navy will stop them, board, and any vessels containing weapons will be turned back.

A quarantine prevents any more missiles from reaching Cuba, but it doesn't remove the missiles already there.

It gives the Soviets a chance to pull back without a war.

If they refuse to remove the missiles, we retain the option to strike and invade.

A sneak attack would be counter to what the United States stands for.

It leaves us no room to maneuver, and the inevitable Soviet response would force us into a war.

Mr. President, there are still those of us who believe we should proceed with the strikes.

Sir, with a blockade, we lose strategic surprise.

We also run the risk of the Soviets launching a first strike against us if they decide they have to use the missiles or lose them.

So, quarantine or air strike.

Ahem. There is a third option.

With either course, we undertake the risk of nuclear war.

So it seems to me that maybe one of us in this room should be a coward, So I guess I'll be.

A third course is to strike a deal.

We trade Guantanamo and our missiles in Turkey, get them to pull their missiles out.

We employ a back channel.

We attribute the idea to U Thant.

U Thant then raises it at the U.N.

I don't think that's possible, Adlai.

I've not yet made my final decision.

I'll be asking the Networks for airtime on Monday night.

We'll announce our course of action then.

Ted, I want you to get working on speeches for both quarantine and air strike.

Well, thank you for all your advice, gentlemen.

I did hear Adlai.

Jesus, you'd think nobody learned anything from World War II.

Somebody had to say it.

I respect Adlai for having the guts to risk looking like an appeaser.

We have to pull him.

He's not going to be able to handle the Soviets in front of the U.N.

Zorin will eat him alive.

We've got bigger problems right now.


No, thank you.

Honey, I'll be right back.


Ah. I just can't seem to get away from you guys.

Escaping for a night on the town, eh?

As D.C.'s most popular playboy, the President felt my presence would be sorely missed, so in the interest of National Security, here I am.

Yes, gotta keep up appearances.

Of course, I don't anymore.

I'm a political dead man.

Did you ever see anyone cut his own throat like I did today?

No, no.

It's all right.

And by the way, I spoke to a friend.

Reston and Franco have the story.

The Times is going to run it tomorrow.

We're not gonna make it to Monday.


We can get Sorenson to lean on Reston, But you're gonna have to call Orville Dryfoos.

This is the sort of decision a publisher makes himself.

All right. Thanks, Kenny.

Yes, sir, I understand, but, you know, we held on the Bay of Pigs, and it was the biggest mistake of my life. What makes this different?

Orville, I'm asking you to hold the story until I can present our course of action on Monday night.

All right, but I'm gonna need a reason to give my boys.

They're gonna be screaming for my head on a plate.

Listen, Orville, you tell them this...

That they'll be saving lives... including their own.

Yes, Mr. President.

How many Congressmen have not responded yet?


Boggs is in the Gulf fishing? Yes, sir.

I thought he was supposed to be campaigning.

Well, he's not gone for long.

Jesus. Get a plane out there and get him back.

He wants to talk to LeMay again.

He's still considering air strikes.

None of this works tomorrow.

Figure out how to cancel it. Yes, sir.

We're on the phones.

Cam, can you guarantee me you'll get all the missiles?

Sir, I guarantee we'll get all the missiles we know about.

Mr. President, we can get better than 90%of them.

I'll brief the Congressional leadership tomorrow evening at 5:00.

At 7:00, all United States Armed Forces worldwide will stand up to DEFCON 3.

I have a brief statement to make.

President Kennedy will address the nation tonight on radio and television on a subject of the highest national urgency.

He has requested airtime on all 3 Networks for 7 p.m.

Thank you very much.

I am not willing to support anything but the toughest possible...

Congress cannot give you the support you're looking for.

Mr. President! Sir?

If they want this goddamn job, they can have it.

It's no great joy to me.

Mr. President, here's the speech.

I made those changes you wanted.

I need a minute. Kenny, no.

A minute.

Look, I don't want a goddamn pep talk.

You're not the Harvard quarterback anymore.

We're on the brink here!

They're trying to second-guess me into World War 3. Well, it's not gonna happen.

What did you think Congress was gonna do? Well, I...

Offer you unconditional support?

Kiss your Catholic ass?

They don't think we even deserve to be here.

Well, what the hell do you think?

I think we haven't been that impressive today.

They have good reason to question our judgment.

What do you want, Kenny?

I want you to sit down.

Well, I'm not going to sit down!

I want you to sit down, loosen your tie, and take a minute...

I haven't got a minute!

You're the President of the United States.

They can wait for you.

Well, why not?

Things can't get much worse.

Oh, I don't know. We could have to... go down to Lyndon's ranch again dressed up as cowboys.

Shoot deer out of the back of his Convertible.

That was a bad day.

You know, I thought there'd be... more good days.

You know, back when we were in the wards, that day Bobby made me come down and meet you?

I didn't get you at first.

I thought you were lucky.

Your father had a lot of money.

You were skinny. Girls loved you.

I thought I could beat you and Bobby up together.

But he just kept going on and on about you.

I thought it was because he was your brother.

But I was wrong.

I was wrong.

You sleeping?

No. Not much.

But I slept last night, though, you know, and...

Jeez, I...

When I woke up, I just...

Somehow I'd forgotten that all this had happened, you know?

Then, of course, I remembered, and...

I just wished for a second somebody else was President.

You mean that?

I said, for a second.

Boy, there is a lot of noise out there, Kenny.

You know what you're doing, Mr. President.

You're going to make the best call you can, and you know they're going to second-guess you.

So what?

We're just gonna have to take our beatings as we go.

So, what are we going to do now?

I'm going on TV.

You know, maybe the American people will go with me.

Even if their... elected representatives won't.

You wear something nice for the TV.

Make sure Jackie picks it.

Excuse me.

Oh, right. Thanks, Pierre. Now, I just changed...

OK, everybody, I think we're ready.

No, I'm fine. Thank you.

Mr. President, in 5, 4, 3, 2...

Good evening, my fellow citizens.

This Government, as promised, has maintained the closest surveillance of the Soviet military buildup on the island of Cuba.

Within the past week, unmistakable evidence has established the fact that a series of offensive missile sites is now in preparation on that imprisoned island.

The purpose of these bases can be none other than to provide a nuclear strike capability against the Western Hemisphere.

Acting therefore in the defense of our own security and under the authority entrusted to me by the Constitution, I have directed that the following initial steps be taken immediately.

First, to halt this offensive buildup, a strict quarantine on all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba is being initiated.

All ships of any kind, bound for Cuba, from whatever nation or port, will, if found to contain cargos of offensive weapons, be turned back.

Second, I have directed the continued and increased close surveillance of Cuba and its military buildup, and should these military preparations continue, further action will be justified.

I have directed the Armed Forces to prepare for any eventualities.

And third, it shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.

Good speech, Teddy.

Yeah, well, I guess I get to keep my job.

No. It was a really good speech.

I can't imagine what you did with the air strikes version.

I wasn't able to write it, Kenny.

It's kind of hard to write the unthinkable.

I tried. I just...

I couldn't.

We're getting the Soviet response.

It's coming in on the teletype.

"The community of nations recognizes the fundamental right of freedom of the seas..."

It's horseshit.

I agree.

They don't know how to respond yet.

So now you're Khrushchev. What do you do?

You run the blockade.

They'll run the blockade.

Which is exactly what they appear to be preparing to do, Mr. President.

We're tracking 26 ships inbound for Cuba.

They show no sign of changing course.

The closest ships, the Gagarin and the Kimovsk, will make the quarantine line by this time tomorrow.

Admiral Anderson, if the ships do not stop, exactly what are our rules of engagement?

Well, Russian-speaking personnel have been transferred to all our ships.

When the quarantine takes place in the morning, our ships will attempt to make radio contact with the approaching vessels.

They'll be ordered to reduce speed and standby for inspection.

An inspection team will then board and search the vessel.

If weapons are found, the ship will be ordered out of the quarantine area, or if they refuse, they'll be towed into the nearest port.

What happens if the ship doesn't stop for inspection or want to be towed?

We fire a warning shot across their bow.

And what happens if the ship ignores the warning shot?

We then fire at its rudder, disable it, and carry on our inspection.

There will be no shooting without my explicit orders.

Is that understood?

Yes, sir.

Well, Admiral, looks like it's up to the Navy.

The Navy won't let you down, sir.

There's one other thing, Mr. President.

We're commencing low-level photography runs over Cuba this morning.

It'll be more detailed than the U-2 photography.

This way, we'll be able to firm up our estimates of the missiles' readiness and develop target packages for strikes, if you should order them, sir.

To protect our pilots, we're prepared to retaliate against any SAM site or anti-aircraft battery that may open fire.

We have a flight of Thunderchiefs that'll be able to respond within minutes to any attacks on our planes.

I got a bad feeling about what's going on in there.

In the morning, I'm taking charge of the blockade from the Situation Room, and McNamara is going to set up shop in the flag plot at the Pentagon and keep an eye on things there.

Good, because you'll get armed boarders climbing onto Soviet ships, with shots being fired across bows...

Well, what about these low-level flights? We need the flights.

They're starting in what? An hour.

You realize what you're letting yourself in for?

We need the flights, because the minute that first missile becomes operational, we gotta go in there and destroy it.

Fair enough, but Castro's on alert, and we're flying attack planes over their sites on the deck!

There's no way for them to know we're carrying cameras, not bombs.

God damn it!

We're going to be shot at, plain and simple.

I'm your political advisor.

I'm giving you a political analysis here.

This... This is a set-up.

The Chiefs want to go in.

They need to redeem themselves for the Bay of Pigs.

They gotta go in this time. They got to do it right.

I'm going to protect those pilots.

They're boxing us in with these rules of engagement.

If you agree to them and one of our planes gets knocked down or one of the ships won't stop for inspection, the Chiefs will have us by the balls and will force us to start shooting.

They want a war, Jack, and they're arranging things to get one.

How does a man get to a place where he can say, "Throw those lives away," so easily?

Maybe it's harder for them to say than they let on, but at the very least, they believe it's in our best interest.

And you know what?

At the end of the day, they may well end up being right.

Well, I'll tell you one thing, we're going to have to triple-check everything the Chiefs say to us with the guys that actually have to do it.

And nobody's to know about this, because I... but Bobby.

I need redundant control over what happens out there.

And if things aren't as advertised, then you're going to make sure they come out the way I want them to come out.

That's gonna be... Starting with this low-level flight thing.

That's gonna be tough.

You know how these guys are about their chains-of-command.

Listen, you tell them those chains-of-command end at one place... Me.

Go ahead, sir.

Speak up, lady. I cannot hear you. I got a train to catch, and I'd like to be home by Christmas. Yeah?

That's the one. Mr. O'Donnell.

What's her name? Margaret.

Margaret. Give me a break. I'm doing the best that I can.

Yes, sir. I understand exactly what you're talking about.

I speak the language, too. What?

Margaret, would you mind helping me with something?

What do you need, honey?

That tone of voice specifically.

What tone of voice? What the hell is he talking about?

I told you, sir... I'm sorry. You're outta here.

Ready Room.

Hey, Skipper, what are you doin'?

Lookin' out the door. I'll get him for you.

For what? Cuba.



Commander Ecker. Commander Ecker?

This is the White House operator. Please hold for...


Honey, you don't know what shit is.

Commander? My name's Ken O'Donnell, Special Assistant to the President.

Yes, sir.

The President's instructed me to pass along an order to you.

You are not to get shot down.

Uh... We'll do our best, sir.

I don't think you understand me, Commander.

You're not to get shot down under any circumstances.

Whatever happens up there, you were not shot at.

Mechanical failures are fine.

Crashing into mountains, fine...

But you and your men are not to be shot at, fired at, or launched upon.

Excuse me, sir. What the hell is going on here?

Commander, if you are fired upon, The President will be forced to attack the sites that fire on you.

He doesn't want to have to do that.

It's very important that he doesn't, or things could go very badly out of control.

What about my men?

If we don't have anybody to protect us, I'm gonna be writing letters home to parents.

If the President protects you, Commander, he may have to do it with the bomb.

Now, I've know the man for 15 years. The problem is...

He will protect you.

So I'm asking, don't make him protect you.

Don't get shot at.

OK, Mr. O'Donnell, we'll do what we can.

I know you will.

Good luck, you guys. Find your way back!

Stay close.

Hey, Joey.

See ya, Joey. Thanks, Joey.

Ready to go, Jeremy?

Hey, Bruce. Skipper?

Never mind. Just do what I do. Hand signs only?


You are clear and ready to go, sir!

Good luck, Skipper!

Oh-ho, man! Shit! Did you see it?

Man, you were lucky, Skipper.

Damn sparrows. Must've been migrating.


Probably hit a couple hundred of 'em. How many did you hit, Bruce?


A few, I guess.

These, uh, 20 millimeter or 40 millimeter sparrows, sir?

Those are bird strikes.

Sparrows, to be precise.

It's the way it is, guys.

Get that film pack done.

Commander Ecker.


Sir. Commander.

Mr. O'Donnell, I've been ordered to deliver the film to the Pentagon personally.

What's going on here?

The Chiefs must want to talk to you.

They're gonna want to know if you were fired on. Were you?

You could say that, sir.

Commander, listen to me.

Now, I know this must fly in the face of everything you've come to serve, but I'm asking you to look through this to the other side.

Commander William B. Ecker reporting as ordered.

Commander. Sir.

Put your gear down over here.

Would you like a glass of water or anything?

No, thank you, sir.

Sir. Commander.

Have a seat.

Now, Commander, I assume you know why you're here.

Son, I want to know just one thing.

Those bastards shoot so much as a BB gun at you?

It was a cakewalk, sir.

Mr. President, the O.A.S. meeting starts in less than an hour.

Well, good. I think we need this one, Dean.

We can't expect miracles.

Listen, the quarantine is legal if we get a mandate.

Otherwise, it's an act of war in the eyes of the world, so you gotta get me the vote, and, you know, make it unanimous.

Mr. President, the Organization of American States hasn't had a unanimous vote...

Unanimous... Dean.

In accordance with this afternoon's vote at the Organization of American States, the quarantine will hereby be effective as of 10:00 tomorrow morning.

At 8 a.m. This morning, the United States detonated a hydrogen bomb above Johnston Island in the South Pacific.

The blast was quickly condemned by the Soviet Union, who called upon all nations to denounce the United States for bringing the world to the brink of destruction.

Who the hell authorized this test?

Christ, what is this gonna say to the Russians?

They look warlike?

Jesus Christ. We're lighting off nuclear weapons like it's our own private Fourth of July.

You know what we should have done?

We should've brought in the guys from the Atomic Energy Commission and talked this through, you know?

Looked at these tests a little harder before just givin' the go-ahead.

You know, last summer I read a book, "The Guns of August".

I wish every man on that blockade line had read that book.

It's World War I, 13 million killed.

It was all because the militaries of both alliances believed they were so highly attuned to one another's movements and dispositions, they could predict one another's intentions, but all their theories were based on the last war, and the world and technology had changed, and those lessons were no longer valid, but it was all they knew, so the orders went out.

Couldn't be rescinded.

The man in the field, his family at home, they couldn't even tell you the reasons why their lives were being destroyed.

But why couldn't they stop it?

What could they have done?

Here we are 50 years later.

If one of their ships resists the inspection and we shoot out its rudder and board, they shoot down one of our planes in response, so we bomb their anti-aircraft sites. In response to that...

They attack Berlin.

So we invade Cuba.

Then they fire their missiles.

And we fire ours.

Helen, I want you to keep the kids close tomorrow.

I want you to leave the TV on.

I want you to sleep with it on in the bedroom until I call you and tell you you can turn it off.

What's happened?

Nothing. Nothing you don't already know about.

Just have the car ready to go in case I call... or the Civil Defense Warning comes on.

What happens to you?

I'm not leaving without you.

I'll be evacuated with the President.



And while you're under a rock somewhere with the President, what am I supposed to do with our 5 children, Kenny?

Honey, we're not gonna let it come to that.

I promise.

Jack and Bobby, they're...

They're smart guys.

You're smart, too.

Not like them.

Well, hi, Ken.

Helen just asked me what sort of arrangements we have for the families.

Yeah, I just checked that myself.

They're being issued identity cards, and the call comes, evacuation officers meet them at pre-arranged departure areas.

They go by helicopter to Mount Weather.

We meet them there.

Of course, that's for morale.

Missiles only take 5 minutes to get here.

The President has asked Jackie and the children to come back from the country and be with him.

You know those pictures upstairs?

Pictures of Lincoln?

He looked so old near the end.

When we got here, I said, "It's not gonna happen to us."

We were too young.

Why don't you go home tonight?

Go on home.

No. It's too much trouble to get the car.

Ken, we can get your car in 15 minutes.

No. Go ahead.


I'll let her sleep.

I'll let 'em sleep.

It almost seemed today as if time stood still.

The shooting hadn't started yet, but there weren't any really encouraging signs that it could be avoided, but worried, alarmed, afraid, perhaps even, the American public, nonetheless, appeared determined and resolved.

This is Walter Cronkite.

Good night.


Yeah, thanks. Here you go, sir.

Gentlemen, can you hear me?

Yes, we can hear you fine.

I've got one minute till 10:00 here.

The quarantine commences in one minute.

And no sign of them stopping.


Quarantine is now in effect.

And it looks like our first customers are the Gagarin and Kimovsk.

Chief, I've got something at zero-three-zero.

X.O., take a look at this.

New contact, Skipper.

What do we got?

A Russian sub.

General Quarters, General Quarters!

All hands man your battle stations!

General Quarters, General Quarters!

All hands, man your battle stations!

General Quarters, General Quarters!

All hands, man your battle stations!

Bracket 231 correlates to our submarine at 9,000 yards.

It's protecting the freighters.

Bob, is there any way we can avoid stopping a submarine first?

I'm afraid not, Mr. President.

The sub has positioned itself between the Pierce and the Soviet ships.

Admiral Anderson insists it's too much of a risk to proceed with stopping the freighters.

The Pierce would be a sitting duck for the sub.

Put me through to the Pierce. Yes, sir.

Admiral Anderson!

The President wishes to speak directly to the Captain of the Pierce.

Is that a problem?

No, it isn't, sir.

He's putting you through, sir.

Sir, I'm patching you through to the bridge now.

This is the Captain of the Pierce.

Captain, this is the President speaking.

Mr. President.

Is there any way you can force that sub to the surface without damaging it or yourself?

I can bring it up, Mr. President, but whether it's damaged or not is up to the sub.

Even if they do force it up, that sub will be inspected over the crew's dead bodies.

They'd be executed for allowing it when they got home.

Captain, force the sub to the surface.

Yes, Mr. President.

Prepare to fire torpedoes. Prepare to fire torpedoes. Aye, sir.

Prepare to launch ASROC. Prepare to launch ASROC. Aye, sir.

Watch your fingers!

Watch your fingers.

What are they up to?

They're slowing down.

Mr. Secretary, I'm receiving reports. The Russian ships appear to be stopping.

Mr. President, Reports are coming in here to the Pentagon that the ships appear to be stopping.

Captain, belay that order. Belay that order!

Hold your fire!

Bob, where's that coming from? One second, Mr. President.

Somebody find out what's going on.

Those ships are definitely stopping.

Some are turning around.

Are they stopping?

I don't know what the hell they're doing.

Admiral. Admiral, what's happening!

Yes, sir, they are stopping.

Mr. President, reports are coming in from all around.

The ships are stopping.

Some are turning around.

Some are turning around.

We were eyeball to eyeball, and I think the other fella just blinked.

Yes, sir.

Yes, sir. We have that information.

Mr. President. Mr. President, sir.

We have the tally from NSA.

We have 20 ships stopping and /or turning around.

6, however, appear to be continuing for the line.

It's a, uh, it's a mistake.

They must not have gotten their orders yet. I'd-let 'em go.

No. That's unlikely, Bobby.

We've been monitoring the radio transmissions from the Gagarin and the Kimovsk.

Their radios are working just fine, Mr. President.

One ship, an accident maybe.

6, Mr. President? This is intentional.

Mr. President, let 'em go.

Oh, you're still here, Bob?

4 of the 6 continuing ships are still a day away from the line.

They've stopped the ones we suspect have weapons aboard.

We'd look pretty bad shooting up a freighter full of baby food.

We sure as shit would.

Captain, I want you to maintain contact with those ships and do nothing until I order otherwise. Is that clear?

Yes, Mr. President.

Contact only.

At its beginning, this day looked as though it might be one of armed conflict between Soviet vessels and American warships on the sea lanes leading to Cuba.

Find out how close our exercises are coming to their anti-ship missiles.

God damn it!

How the goddamn hell did this happen?

I'm gonna have Powers' head on a platter...

Next to LeMay's.

Kenny, you hear me give the order to go to DEFCON 2?

Because I remember giving the order to go to DEFCON 3, but I must be suffering from amnesia.

I've just been informed our nuclear forces are at DEFCON 2.

They were limited, Mr. President.

The orders were limited to our strategic forces... Max! the continental United States.

General LeMay is correct.

Technically, SAC has the statutory authority...

I have the authority!

I am the Commander in Chief of the United States, and I say when we go to war.

We're not at war, sir... Not until DEFCON one.

General, the Joint Chiefs have just signaled our intent to escalate to the Soviets.

You signaled an escalation which I had no wish to signal, and which I did not approve.

Just get out of here, Max.

Yes, sir.

Rescind the order. Can all the Chiefs.

Put Nitze, Gilpatrick and the Under Secretaries in charge.

Can't do that, Bobby. Yes, we can.

We can't fire the Chiefs, Bobby.

Our invasion talk would look like a bluff.

Or even worse, that there's been an attempted coup.


Kenny, give me... a couple minutes alone with Bobby, would you?

Just... Just try this on for size.

We get a hold of Walter Lippmann, And we leak the idea of pulling our Jupiter missiles out of Turkey, and the Soviets pull their missiles out of Cuba.

Act through the U.N.!

K and K must talk!

End the arms race, not the human race!



What did you think of the Lippmann column this morning?

I think it's a bad idea.

Thank God. Look, everybody's furious about it.

We trade away our missiles in Turkey, and we're dead, politically.

You've got to stop it.

We know it was Jack and Bobby's idea. They leaked it to Lippmann.

The military guys are going ape...

Then they should speak up.

Christ, Ken, it's not that easy.

It is. No, it isn't.

They don't trust the people who feel this way, but these people are right, and the Kennedys are wrong.

We need you to talk to them.

They'll listen to you.

Jack and Bobby are good men, but it takes a certain...

You mean the President of the United States?

And the Attorney General?

Kenny, they are good men, but it takes a certain character, moral toughness, to stand up to the Soviets.

You listen to me.

You're in the White House right now because of the Kennedys.

Now, they may be wrong, they make mistakes, but they are not weak.

The weak ones are these people who can't seem to speak their own minds.

You know I don't mean that they're weak.

No, they just lack a moral toughness.

Jesus Christ, Mac.

You... You think I'll play your Judas for you?

You've never understood us, your kind.

We've been fighting with each other our whole lives, but nobody plays us off each other, and nobody ever, ever gets between us!

It's a goddamn trial balloon, Kenny.

Well, then somebody better publicly deny it, 'cause there's only one way the world's gonna read this.

We sell out one of our friends for our own safety.


Jesus Christ, they're just killing us.

...and enter into negotiations in order to normalize this confrontation and avert the threat of a World War.

What is it that Sun Tzu says?

War's a moral contest, and they're won in the temples before they're ever fought.

...this enormous danger for all mankind which exist at this moment...

It's right here. It's right here. This is where we turn it around.

You call Adlai, you tell him to stick it to this son of a bitch.

...diplomatic resolution.

The U.S. believes that with their economic boycott, by pressuring other countries to cease trade with Cuba, we would surrender due to hunger.

How does it feel, Mr. President, to be this heroic and force a country to surrender...

Am I still on hold here?

They're trying to find him right now.

Ken, Adlai's too weak.

We have to convince Jack to pull him. Get McCloy in there.

You can't take him out this late in the game, Bobby.

Zorin will eat him alive.

Then talk to your brother, god damn it.

The two of you don't need my advice to get into trouble.

What's gotten into you?

Are you still sore about this Lippmann thing?

That's something your father would have done right there.

My father?

I'm just trying to make a point.

This idea is that fucking bad.

Adlai can handle Zorin. He knows the inning, he knows the score.

He better, because nobody believes he's up to this...



Adlai? Yes.

It's Ken. How you doing?

I'm busy, Ken. What do you need?

The President told me to pass a word to you.

Stick it to them.

Cuba together...

I hear you. I'm glad it's you calling.

I... I thought it would be Bobby.

Adlai, the world has to know we're right.

If we're gonna have a chance at a political solution, we need international pressure.

You got to be tough, Adlai.

You need to find it, Buddy.

Well, if they're still sticking to their stonewalling strategy, I'll get them.

I'm an old political cat, Kenny...

But I've got one life left.

I know you do.

See you, Ken.

We'll be able to find together a proper...


We call upon the world to condemn this purely American provocation.

We, the people of Romania, are standing in solidarity with the people of the Republic of Cuba and the revolution in the face of this American threat to world peace.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

We're very glad that you could join us, Mr. Stevenson.

For the last 2 hours, the entire world here is asking only questions.

The United States is pushing the entire world to the brink of catastrophe.

The people of the whole world want to know why.

We are told again and again about some incontrovertible evidence of offensive weapons in Cuba...

But no evidence can be shown to us.

Perhaps your spy planes are so secret that you are simply incapable to present such evidence. Some planes.

I make the call, Adlai is out. McCloy goes in.

Let's just hope it doesn't come to that.

...simply don't have such evidence.

Perhaps the United States of America is simply mistaken.

Yes, the United States of America does not have any facts in hands, only falsifications.

John, get ready to send your staffer in.

He's gonna be coming out.

The Chair recognizes the representative from the United States of America.

Well, let me say something to you, Mr. Ambassador.

We do have the evidence.

We do have it, and it is clear and incontrovertible.

And let me say something else.

Those weapons must be taken out of Cuba.

You, the Soviet Union, have created this new danger...

Come on, Adlai.

Not the United States.

Mr. Zorin, I remind you that the other day you did not deny the existence of these weapons, but today, again, if I have heard you correctly, you now say they do not exist.

All right, sir, let me ask you one simple question.

Come on, Adlai, don't let him off.

Do you, Ambassador Zorin, deny that the USSR has placed and is placing medium and intermediate-range missiles in sites in Cuba?

Yes or no?

Don't wait for the translation.

Yes or no?


I am not in the American courtroom, and I do not wish to respond to questions... questions that a prosecutor would put to the defendant.

You will get... all the answers to your questions as this session progresses.

You are in a courtroom of world opinion right now, and you can answer yes or no.

You have denied they exist, and I want to know if I have understood you correctly.

Continue... Continue your statement.

You will get your answers in due course.

Don't worry. Don't worry.

I'm prepared to wait for my answer until Hell freezes over, if that's what is needed.

John, I'll get back to you.

I'm also prepared to present the evidence in this room proving that the Soviet Union has lied to the world.

If you have decided not to continue your statement, the Chair recognizes the representative from Chile.

I yield my time on the floor to the representative of the United States.

Well, then, ladies and gentlemen, since it appears we're going to be here for a while, shall we have a look at what the Soviets are doing in Cuba?

May we have the presentation, please?

Ladies and gentlemen, if you will observe in photograph "A"...

Yeah. Yeah.

...taken approximately August 29...

Old Adlai had it in him after all.

Zorin must not have gotten instructions.

Somebody in their Foreign Ministry is blowing it big time.

In photograph "B", we have October 14th. The photograph taken then...

Mr. President.

There are at least 3 missile sites being constructed.

There are bunkers...

The ship is called the Grozny.

We lost track of it yesterday at nightfall.

We thought we gave it plenty of room when we moved the quarantine line back.

We just reacquired it.

It crossed the line hours ago.

Well, how the hell do you lose a goddamn tanker?

What the hell's going on over there?

Hail 'em again.

I want you to try 'em again.

We are kidding ourselves.

New coordinates for the Pierce.

Pierce coordinates, 25 degrees, 30 minutes north, 78 degrees, 10 minutes west.

Not responding, Chief.

Tell the Skipper.

They're not responding, sir.

General Quarters, General Quarters!

All hands, man your battle stations.

All hands, man your battle stations.

Very well. Load your guns.

Guns are loaded, sir.

What was that, Admiral?

We've been hailing the Grozny for the last hour, Mr. Secretary.

The Grozny refuses to stop.

What are you doing?

Carrying out our mission, Mr. Secretary.

Now, if you don't mind, we're very busy right now.

We need to be able to do our jobs.

Admiral, I asked you a question.

We're going to follow the rules of engagement...

The rules of engagement which the President has approved and signed in his order of 23 October.


Yes, you may proceed, Captain.

Clear your guns. What?

Damn it!

Stop that firing! What?

Stop that firing!

Cease fire. Cease fire!

God help us.

The ship was firing star shells. What?

Star shells! Flares, Mr. Secretary.

God damn it! I've got a job to do here.

Now, you've been camped out out there since Monday night.

You're tired, you're exhausted, and you're making mistakes.

You interfere with me and you will get some of my men killed, and I will not allow that!

Star shells.

Get out of our way, Mr. Secretary.

The Navy's been running blockades since the days of John Paul Jones.

I believe the President made it clear that there will be no firing on ships without his express permission.

With all due respect, Mr. Secretary, we were not firing on that ship.

What the hell was that?

Firing on a ship means attacking a ship.

We were not attacking that ship.

We were firing over it.

That was not the President's intention when he gave that order.

What if the Soviets don't see the distinction?

What if they make the same mistake I just made?

There will be no firing anything near any Soviet ships without my express permission.

Now is that understood, Admiral?

Is it?!

Yes, sir.

And I will only issue such instructions when ordered to by the President.

John Paul Jones!

You don't understand a thing, do you, Admiral?

This isn't a blockade!

This is language... A new vocabulary the likes of which the world has never seen.

This is President Kennedy communicating with Secretary Khrushchev.

Well, who the hell authorized this missile test?

Who do you think?

God knows what this is gonna communicate to the Soviets.

Communicate with the Soviets?

We can't communicate with the Pentagon, and it's just across the goddamn river.

LeMay must think you're afraid of him.

I'm not taking that bait.

The right move here is to move on.

The United States Destroyer Joseph P. Kennedy...

This is the point at which we are concerned that there might be shooting among the ships at sea, the possibility that invasion might have to be undertaken to assure that those bases are eliminated.

If invasion is undertaken, the Russians have said that they would retaliate with rocket fire.

We have said if there's rocket fire from Cuba, we will retaliate, and there goes the whole ballgame.


What's this?

Can anyone just walk in here now?

Ken, don't worry. I'm not here to do an interview.

Well, if you're looking for a cup of sugar, John, you got the wrong door.

Kenny, we need to see the President.

Something's happened.

The point of the crisis... This is the point at which...

I have lunch with him, maybe once a month.

The way he talks, he acts like he knows Khrushchev personally, but he's never elaborated.

I've used him as a source in a couple of stories.

The FBI has identified this Alexander Fomin as the Soviet resident, um, the KGB equivalent of one of our Station Chiefs.

He's their highest-ranking spy in this country, and he knows John's a friend of mine.

All the trademarks of a back-channel overture.

Yeah. Some back channel.

ABC News guy, my goddamn next-door neighbor.

So they'll remove the missiles, and we'll pledge not to invade Cuba or destabilize Castro or assist anyone who plans in doing so.

I think this may be our first real message from Khrushchev.

The alternative, Mr. President, is that this could be a trap.

Mm-hmm. And how is that exactly?

Dangle a settlement.

Tie us down in negotiation. We come up short.

Why else would they approach us this way?

It's deniable.

The Soviets have done nothing but lie to us.

This could just be more of the same.

That may be why Khrushchev's introducing this guy.

We've been burned by his usual players in the formal channels, so he brings in an honest broker.

That may be what they want us to think.

The truth is, Mr. President, we don't even really know who Fomin speaks for.

It could be Khrushchev.

It could be some faction of the Politburo or the KGB itself. We just don't know.

Oh, by the way, Scali, your activities now fall under the secrecy codicils of the National Security Act.

Sorry, John. No Pulitzer.

Mr. President, we haven't much time.

I'm scheduled to meet with him again in 31/2 hours.

So it seems the question of the day is, is the offer legitimate?

And if it is...

Well, if it is, we can't afford to ignore it.

So, John...

We'll have instructions for you in a couple of hours.

Thank you.

Thank you, John.

Sir, we don't have much time to play out back-channel communiqués.


I need you to get over to your old stomping grounds and go through everything the FBI has on Fomin, And I need your best call... Is the guy legit, and is he speaking for Khrushchev?

OK, so what we got here is this guy Alexander Feklisov, aka Alexander Fomin, declared Counsel to the Soviet Embassy, but in reality the KGB Papa spy.

An illustrious tour of duty during the Great Patriotic War gets him on the Party fast track.

Various tours of duty in KGB.

American postings. He's an expert on us, and that is all that we got on Papa spy.

How do you become the KGB top spy in the United States?

You gotta know someone.

You gotta know someone.

So, politics is politics.

Walter, get me Khrushchev's files.

Pass me that.

I want to see their career chronology side by side.

We know they're not related, right? Right.

They're not from the same hometown.

They went to different schools.


So if they were gonna meet, they should have met here.

I think they could have met.

They couldn't have.

He was an engineer stationed outside of Moscow at the end of '41.

That's it.

They know each other. They're war buddies.

That's pretty thin, Kenny.

Well, real life usually is, Walter.

They know each other, Jack.

Khrushchev and Fomin were war buddies.

You sure?

Don't take it to court, but we've got good circumstantial evidence.

Well, you're there. I mean, what's your instinct? I gotta move on this.

My gut's telling me that Khrushchev's turning to a trusted old friend to carry his message.

OK. We're going.

I've been instructed to tell you that the American Government would respond favorably to an offer along the lines that you have discussed.

If such a solution were raised at the U.N. by Ambassador Zorin, he would find a favorable reply from Ambassador Stevenson.

So, I understand you correctly.

If the missiles in Cuba were dismantled, returned to the Soviet Union and a guarantee was made not to reintroduce them, the United States would be prepared to guarantee that it would never invade Cuba?

That is correct.

And this is from the Highest Authority?

Yes, the Highest Authority.

There are 2 conditions.

The U.N. must be allowed to inspect the removal of the missiles.

Of course, the U.N. must also be allowed to observe the redeployment of forces from the American Southeast.

I can't speak to that.

What's the second condition, John?

Time is of the essence.

How much time?

48 hours.

In 48 hours, there can be no deals.

Hoo hoo.

I'll see what I can do.

I think it's very difficult to make a decision from this document.

Well, it looks to me like Fomin's overture was genuine.

That's a big "if," Bobby.

It's 10 pages of sentimental fluff, but he's saying it right here.

He'll remove the missiles in return for a no-invasion pledge.

Mm-hmm. Mr. President, our early analysis says this probably was written by Khrushchev himself.

It's a first draft. It shows no signs of being polished by the Foreign Ministry.

In fact, it probably wasn't even approved by the Politburo as they wouldn't let the emotionalism go by.

The analysts say it was written by someone under considerable stress.

Glad to know we're not alone.

Well, it never was my intention to invade Cuba anyway...

Until they put the missiles in there.

Gentlemen, I think we should seriously consider this deal.

Hi. Hi.

You look old, O'Donnell.

You don't.

It's 2:30 in the morning.

You flirting with me?

We got a back-channel communication from Khrushchev this evening, feeling us out about a deal.

He confirmed it just a little while ago in a letter.

Thank God.

Jack kicked us out of his house for the night.

Darn it.

For a second there, I thought you'd been fired.

No such luck.

You know, I'm driving home... there was something I wanted to tell you.

Finish that thought.


Kenny, it's Bob. We're getting another letter over the teletype from Khrushchev. I have a bad feeling.

Ok, I'll be right there.

You're beautiful.

It looks like Fomin was a ploy after all, and they were just stalling for time.

It gets worse.

Gentlemen, my specialists are in agreement.

This morning's letter is not Khrushchev.

Last night's letter was.

The evidence supports only one conclusion.

There's been a coup, and Khrushchev was replaced overnight.


At the very least, it does suggest he's been co-opted by hard-line elements.

Which at the end of the day, amounts to the same thing.

A puppet Khrushchev and a hard-line Soviet Government pulling the strings.

No deal, and the missiles are almost operational.

What if the Soviets have no intention of honoring this second deal?

Then tomorrow, they make another condition.

Meanwhile, the quarantine isn't working, and they're completing work on the missile sites.

Sir, I think we have to issue pre-invasion orders for our forces.

Mr. President, this morning's photography is in.

It appears the Soviets have commenced a crash program to ready their missiles.

The first missiles became operational last night.

We expect they'll all be operational in 36 hours.

Then we're out of time. We have to go in.

That may not be as easy as we thought, either.

We have gotten confirmation the Soviets have also deployed battlefield nuclear weapons to Cuba.

FROGs, we call 'em. Short-range tactical nukes.

Now, we don't know whether they've delegated release authority to their local commanders for use on our invasion troops, but the good news is, as of this moment, we know where the FROGs are, and we can target them, too.

But the longer we wait, the harder it's going to get.

We have no choice.

General, issue orders to our forces to be prepared to execute the air strikes Monday morning.

And the follow-on invasion according to the schedule thereafter.

I'll need the official release orders on my desk on Sunday night.

Understood, sir.

We'll need to step up our overflights, finalize our pilots' target folders in order to carry out the strikes.

Permission granted. Yes, sir.

Well, gentlemen, if anybody's got any great ideas, now's the time.

Major Anderson, there's a phone call for you.

Thank you.

All right. Give me just a second here, guys.

This is Major Anderson.


Hello, anyone there?

Major? Yes, sir?

My name is Kenneth O'Donnell, Special Assistant to the President.

Major, a few days ago, the President ordered me to help him keep control of what's going on out there.

I've been... I've been browbeating pilots, you know, Navy guys left and right to make sure you don't get us here in Washington into trouble.

But you know what?

We're pretty damn good ourselves at getting into trouble, so instead of riding your ass, I'm just gonna tell you what's going on here and let you figure out how best to help us out up here.

Go ahead, sir.

Last night, it, uh... looked like we were going to cut a deal to get us all out of this mess.

Today, the Soviets are reneging.

We're gonna try and salvage the situation, but a lot of things are going wrong today.

It's making everyone nervous.

And when things go wrong, people will become more nervous, and it will be very hard to avoid going to war.

I'm not sure what you're tying to tell me, sir.

Just my standard line I've been repeating to guys like you all week.

Don't get shot down.

Beyond that, whatever else you can do to help us I'd appreciate it.


When you're at 72,000 feet, there's a million things that can go wrong. I mean, Is your oxygen mix right? Are your cameras gonna freeze up?

Are you leaving a contrail? Those million things, they're beyond your control mostly.


You know, when you realize that, there's a kind of peace, you know?

If you're a good man and if your ground crew are good men, that is all you can ask for.

With the grace of God, that'll get you through.

Are you a religious man?

Yes, sir, I am.


The plane is missing, Kenny.

We are presuming the pilot is dead.

Well, it's hard to believe, with the Soviet centralized command structure, that this could've been an accidental launch.

The question is, does this attack on our plane represent a definitive intentional escalation on the part of the Soviets?

Mr. President, taken with the events of the past few hours, I believe this confirms our worst fears.

We're now dealing with a hard-line Soviet Government, Perhaps with Khrushchev as a puppet head, perhaps not. We don't know.

You OK?


I'm fine.

Mr. President...

What now?

A U-2 on a routine air-sampling mission got lost and penetrated Soviet airspace over Siberia.

Oh, God damn it!

Soviets scrambled MIGs in pursuit, thinking it was a bomber.

Got out OK.

Somebody forgot to cancel the mission.

You know, there's always some son of a bitch who doesn't get the word.

You know, this is just what we need.

Soviets thinking we're bombing them.

Anybody else?

Mr. President, our pilots are in danger.

We must order punitive air strikes against the SAM site that shot down Major Anderson per our rules of engagement.


I want confirmation it wasn't some sort of accident first.

Mr. President.

I think that's a good idea, Mr. President.

I can wait a day and a half.

Be safer for my boys to get the SAMs on Monday when we get the rest of the bastards.

Hut... hut!

Yeah, yeah.


That's the quarter.

Hey, Dad. Hey, Sport.

You winning? Yeah.

Is everything gonna be OK, Dad?

Everything's gonna be fine, Kenny.

I guess you won't be coming home tonight.

I, uh...


Let's go! Second quarter!

It's OK. Go on back to your game.

All right. I'll see you around, Dad.

First down!


Damn it!

Jesus, Mary and Joseph!

Take off for 2 hours, you're gonna miss a little drama.

I told you how stupid it was to float that Lippmann article.

Now you're gonna do it for real?

The Jupiters are obsolete, Kenny.

They were supposed to have been dismantled...

I know they're obsolete! That's not the point.

The point is, you trade our missiles in Turkey for theirs in Cuba, they're gonna force us into trade after trade, until finally, a couple of months from now, they demand something we won't trade, like Berlin, and we do end up in a war.

Not to mention that long before that happens, this administration will be politically dead.

I don't care if this administration ends up in the freaking toilet!

We don't do a deal tonight, there won't be any administration.

It's the wrong move, Bobby, and it's not just me who thinks that.

Everyone on this so-called EXCOM is telling you exactly the same thing.

Well, whose side are you on now, Ken?

Oh... God damn it.

What if there hasn't been a coup at all?

What if it's you two?

What is that supposed to mean? What if it was you two who invited that second letter by raising the possibility of a trade?

Mr. President, we have only 30 hours left, and whatever response we send, it will take several hours for the wire to be received by our Embassy and delivered to the Kremlin.

So we're looking at early tomorrow morning at the earliest before Khrushchev can respond.

Which one of you geniuses is gonna tell me how to explain it to the world if we don't make this trade?

So, what are we gonna say to the Soviets about this offer?

Well, it depends, doesn't it? I mean, Do we really believe there's been a coup?

What if Fomin wasn't a ploy?

What if his message was real?

What if what is happening is a series of accidents?

Accidents like them shooting down our U-2?

Yes, accidents like that.

And the accident's making the second letter seem more aggressive and the whole situation appear worse than it really is.

"The Guns of August". That's right.

So we just reject the second letter?

No. No, no.

We don't reject it.

We accept the first letter and pretend the second letter doesn't exist.

It won't work because that's wishful thinking!

He made an offer, so I...

That's the same wishful thinking, Bobby, that blinded us all these months while the Soviets were sneaking those missiles in under our noses.

Ignore the second letter, agree to the conditions of the first.

There's no reason to believe the Soviets will let it go.

Max is right. Why will they accept it?

It can work if...

If they believe we're gonna hit 'em, and hit 'em hard. We've got time for one more round of diplomacy, and that's it.

The first air strikes start in 28 hours.

But we have to make them agree to it.

Right. So how do we do that?

Well, we give them something.

We tell 'em we're gonna remove the missiles from Turkey...

Hang on!

But we do that 6 months from now, so it appears there's no linkage.

We also tell 'em if they go public about it, we'll deny it.

Right. We deny it. The deal's off.

And we do it under the table, so we can disavow any knowledge of it.

It's transparent, Kenny. The press'll be all over it.

6 months from now, we're not gonna care, are we?

We'll deal with it then.

At the least, it'll expose whether Khrushchev has been overthrown.

We'll know who we're up against.

Well, I've been thinking about Khrushchev, and if this is a move to appease the hard-liners in his Government, then it may be just the bone he needs to regain control of his own house.

Whoever carries the message has to hit the nail on the head.

Come across as too soft, they'll push us.

Too hard, they'll be cornered, and even more dangerous.

All of you...

All of you do understand that there is an enormous risk in offering this deal.

Because if they turn us down, and we've already told them that we're coming in on Monday morning...

They'll strike first. Yes.


You know Dobrynin best.


Then you're it.

Ted, I want you to start working on the draft.

And, Bobby, you gotta go in there. You gotta make them understand that we have to have an answer tomorrow, because Monday we go to war.

What do you want? A good-bye kiss?

Hey, Joe, listen. I'll take care of him.

Go on inside. Grab some coffee. We'll be back pretty quick.

Are you sure? Sure.

What's the matter with you?

Forget how to open a car door?


You rich people.

I promised the girls I'd take them riding tomorrow.

Make sure you keep that date.

We gave up so much to get here.

I don't know. Sometimes I think, what the hell did we do it for?

Well, I don't know about you, but I'm in it for the money.

We knew we could do a better job than everyone else.


You know, I...

I... I hate being called the brilliant one, the ruthless one...

The guy everybody's afraid of.

I hate it.

I'm not so smart, you know?

I'm not so ruthless.

Well, you're right about the smart part.

I don't know if I can do this.

There's nobody else I'd rather have going in there than you...

Nobody else I'd trust Helen and... the kids' lives to.

Take a left.

You smell that?

They're burning their documents.

They think we're going to war.

God help us, Ken.

Sir, Ambassador Dobrynin is already here. He's waiting in your office.


I'll whistle up some luck for you.

Mr. Ambassador. Thank you.

Who are you?

A friend.

My brother, my friends, my countrymen, and I cannot and will not permit those missiles to become operational.

I promise you that.

Then I fear our 2 nations will go to war...

And I fear where war will lead us.

If the missiles do not become operational, if you remove the missiles, then there will be no war.

At this moment, the President is accepting the terms of Secretary Khrushchev's letter of Friday night.

If the Soviet Union halts construction immediately, removes the missiles, and submits to U.N. inspection, the United States will pledge to never invade Cuba or aid others in that enterprise.

If your Jupiter missiles in Turkey were removed also, such an accommodation could be reached.

That's not possible.

The United States cannot agree to such terms under threat.

Any belief to the contrary was in error.

You want war?


While there can be no quid pro quo on this issue, the United States can offer a private assurance.

Now, our Jupiter missiles in Turkey are obsolete and have been scheduled for withdrawal for some time.

This withdrawal should take place within, say, 6 months.

Of course, any public disclosure of this assurance would negate the deal and produce the most stringent denials from our Government.

This private assurance represents the word of the Highest Authority?


And it can be relayed beyond Comrade Khrushchev's ears to the top circles of my Government?

Our pledge can be relayed to any Government officials Secretary Khrushchev sees fit to satisfy, with the caveat that it is not to be made public in any way, shape, or form.

And we must have an answer tomorrow, at the latest.

I cannot stress this point enough.



Then you must excuse me and permit me to relay the substance of our discussion to my superiors.

Of course.

We have heard stories that some of your military men wish for war.

You're a good man.

Your brother is a good man.

I assure you there are other good men.

Let us hope the will of good men is enough to counter the terrible strength of this thing that was put in motion.

What's going to happen?

If the sun comes up tomorrow, it is only because of men of good will.

And that's...

That's all there is between us and the Devil.

This is Radio Moscow.

Premier Khrushchev has sent a message to President Kennedy today.

The Soviet Prime Minister reemphasizes the need for urgent measures to prevent a fatal turn of events and to preserve world peace.

In addition to instructions earlier transmitted to stop construction work on installations in Cuba, the Soviet Government has ordered the dismantling of weapons in Cuba, as well as their crating and return to the Soviet Union.

Is everybody ready for church?

It's a beautiful morning.

Pass the butter up to Dad.

Dad, you want your paper?

Dad, what's wrong?

The sun came up.

Every day the sun comes up says something about us.

What does it say, Dad?

What's wrong with Daddy?

This is the foreign policy trophy we were hoping for.

Mr. President, sir.

Mr. President, great job.

Hold it, hold it.

Well, Mr. President, I think I can speak for everyone here when I say, "Bring on those mid-terms, there's no stopping us now."

4 more years. All right.

You know, it's been a long 2 weeks, and... or whatever, but...

I'd like to thank you all. I think you all did a great job, and I just think...

I don't think we should be gloating too much.

It was... just as much a victory for them as it was for us.

Hear, hear.

Enjoy your morning.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Get some rest, Mr. President.

We've got a lot of new clout right now, and we can run the table on Khrushchev, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.

Right. You're right.

Dear Mr. And Mrs. Anderson, I was deeply shocked when advised your son was lost in an operational mission on Saturday, October 27, 1962.

Your son rendered distinguished and dedicated service to his country throughout his career.

He was admired... and respected for his courage, and his professional skill by all with whom he served.

His tragic loss will be deeply felt... and a grateful nation will be forever in his debt.

Ken, we're out here.

What kind of a peace do we seek?

I am talking about genuine peace...

The kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living...

Not merely peace in our time, but peace in all time.

Our problems are man-made, therefore, they can be solved by man.

For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet.

We all breathe the same air.

We all cherish our children's future, and we are all mortal.