Thirteen Days (2000)
President Kennedy: Well, who the hell authorized this missile test?
Robert Kennedy: Who do you think? God knows what this is gonna communicate to the Soviets!
Kenny O'Donnell: Communicate with the Soviets? We can't communicate with the Pentagon - and it's just across the goddamn river!
Kenny O'Donnell: 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.
Dobrynin: [to RFK] 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.
President Kennedy: Goddamn it! How the goddamn hell could this happen? I'm gonna have Powell's head on a platter - next to LeMay's. Kenny, you hear me give the order to go to DEFCON 2? 'Cause I remember giving the order to go to DEFCON 3 but, y'know I must be suffering from amnesia! I've just been informed our nuclear forces are at DEFCON 2.
Gen. Max Taylor: They were limited, Mr. President. The orders were limited to our strategic forces...
President Kennedy: Max!
Gen. Max Taylor: ...in the continental United States. General LeMay is correct. Technically, SAC has the statutory authority...
President Kennedy: [slams fist] *I* have the authority! I am the commander in chief of the United States, and I say when we go to war!
Kenny O'Donnell: The sun came up. Every day the sun comes up says something about us.
John F. Kennedy: If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can make the world safe for diversity. 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.
President Kennedy: [last lines]
President Kennedy: What kind of peace do we seek? am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living. Not merely peace in our time but peace for all time. Our problems are manmade - 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.
Robert Kennedy: We gave up so much to get here... I don't know; sometimes I think, "What the hell did we do it for?"
Kenny O'Donnell: Well, I don't know about you, but... I'm in it for the money.
Kenny O'Donnell: That's going to be tough - you know how these guys are about their chains of command.
President Kennedy: Listen, you tell 'em those chains of command end at one place: *me*.
President Kennedy: Bobby, you gotta go in there and you gotta make them understand... that we have to have an answer tomorrow... because Monday, we go to war.
President Kennedy: Acheson's scenario is just, it's unacceptable, and he's got more experience than anybody.
Kenny O'Donnell: There is no expert on the subject; I mean, there is no wise old man. There's - shit, there's just us.
President Kennedy: The thing is that Acheson's right, 'cause talk alone's not gonna accomplish anything.
Kenny O'Donnell: 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.
Kenny O'Donnell: They look warlike? Jesus Christ, we're lighting off nuclear weapons like its our own private Fourth of July!
Journalist: So... tell me about this military exercise that's going on down in Puerto Rico.
Kenny O'Donnell: [sharply] What?
Journalist: It's called "ORTSAC", I believe. "Castro" spelled backwards.
Kenny O'Donnell: "ORTSAC"? I... I don't know what you're talking about.
Robert F. Kennedy: Me either. Why?
Journalist: Because maybe the President and Gromyko are gonna talk about it.
Kenny O'Donnell: 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.
[Johnny the Journalist nods and walks away. On a pad, Bobby writes the word "ORTSAC"]
Kenny O'Donnell: ... Does it?
Robert F. Kennedy: [writes "CASTRO" underneath it] Mm-hm.
Kenny O'Donnell: I'll be damned.
Kenny O'Donnell: Kind of simple for the Pentagon.
President Kennedy: 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 One; there's thirteen 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. And your man in the field, his family at home, they couldn't even tell you the reasons why their lives were being destroyed.
President Kennedy: But why couldn't they stop it? What could they have done? Here we are, fifty years later. Think 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, and they attack Berlin, so we invade Cuba.
President Kennedy: And they fire their missiles... And we fire ours.
Robert McNamara: A blockade is technically an act of war; therefore we recommend calling the action a quarantine.
Kenny O'Donnell: Let's hope that translates into Russian the way we want it to.
President Kennedy: [Kenny eats a piece of the president's breakfast as the president reads the newspaper] I was eating that.
Kenny O'Donnell: No, you weren't.
President Kennedy: I was.
Kenny O'Donnell: No, you weren't.
President Kennedy: I was... I was... Bastard.
General Curtis LeMay: You're in a pretty bad fix, Mr. President.
President Kennedy: What did you say?
General Curtis LeMay: You're in a pretty bad fix.
President Kennedy: Well, maybe you haven't noticed: You're in it with me.
Kenny O'Donnell: Commander, my name is Ken O'Donnell, special assistant to the President.
Commander William B. Ecker: Yes sir.
Kenny O'Donnell: The President has instructed me to pass along an order to you. You are not to get shot down.
Commander William B. Ecker: Uh, we'll do our best sir.
Kenny O'Donnell: I don't think you understand me, Commander. You are 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.
Commander William B. Ecker: Excuse me sir, what the hell is going on here?
Kenny O'Donnell: 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 can go very badly out of control.
Commander William B. Ecker: What about my men? We don't have anyone to protect us, I don't want to be writing letters home to parents.
Kenny O'Donnell: If the President protects you, Commander, he may have to do it with the bomb. Now I've known the man for fifteen years. The problem is... he will protect you. So I'm asking you, don't make him protect you. Don't get shot at.
Commander William B. Ecker: Okay Mister O'Donnell, we'll do what we can.
Kenny O'Donnell: I know you will.
Lt. Bruce Wilhemy: Oh man! Shit! Did you see it?
[Examining bullet holes in Cmdr. Ecker's wing]
Lt. Bruce Wilhemy: You were lucky skipper.
Commander William B. Ecker: Damn sparrows! Must have been migrating.
Petty Officer: Sparrows?
Commander William B. Ecker: I probably hit a couple of hundred of them. How many did you hit Bruce?
Lt. Bruce Wilhemy: Sparrows? A few I guess.
Petty Officer: Are these twenty millimeter or forty millimeter sparrows, sir?
Robert McNamara: This is not 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!
Kenny O'Donnell: Adlai! It's Ken; how you doin'?
Adlai Stevenson: Busy, Ken. What do you need?
Kenny O'Donnell: The president told me to pass the word to you: Stick it to them!
Adlai Stevenson: I hear you. I'm glad it's you calling; I thought it would be Bobby.
Kenny O'Donnell: 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 gotta be tough, Adlai. You need to find it, buddy.
Adlai Stevenson: If they're still sticking to their stonewalling stategy, I'll get them. I'm an old political cat, Kenny, but I've got one life left.
Kenny O'Donnell: I know you do.
[about the Joint Chiefs of Staff]
Kenny O'Donnell: They want a war, Jack, and they're arranging things to get one.
General Curtis LeMay: Those goddamn Kennedys are gonna destroy this country if we don't do something about this!
Adlai Stevenson: [asking the Russian ambassador if there are any Soviet missile bases in Cuba] Sir, I am prepared to wait for your answer till Hell freezes over, if that's your decision.
Robert Kennedy: By the way, China invaded India today.
Kenny O'Donnell: You're kidding, aren't you?
Robert Kennedy: Yeah, I wish I were. Galbraith is handling it in New Delhi. Makes you wonder what's coming next.
Kenny O'Donnell: Geez. What is it about the free world that pisses the rest of the world off?
Robert Kennedy: I don't know. We have Tupperware parties.
General Curtis LeMay: The 'big Red dog' is diggin' in our backyard, and we are justified in shooting him!
Robert McNamara: We're heading out to the backyard to take a look for that 'big Red dog'!
Kenny O'Donnell: 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.
Robert Kennedy: 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.
Dean Acheson: Gentlemen, for the last fifteen years, I've fought 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.
President Kennedy: Dean, how does this all play out?
Dean Acheson: 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.
President Kennedy: Those plans call for the use of nuclear weapons. So what is the next step?
Dean Acheson: Hopefully cooler heads will prevail before we reach the next step.
Kenny O'Donnell: Call me Irish, but I don't believe in cooler heads prevailing.
General Curtis Lemay: Mr. President, you give me the order right now, my planes will be ready to carry out the air strikes in three days time. All you gotta do is say "go," and my boys will get those Red bastards.
Robert F. Kennedy: Jack, I'm as conniving as they come, but a sneak attack is just wrong.
Kenny O'Donnell: Listen, things are happening too fast - I mean, this is starting to smell like the Bay of Pigs all over again.
President Kennedy: 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 -
[pauses in a wave of pain and sits down]
- and Castro would be gone, just, easy, just like that.
[Soviet ships turn away from the U.S. blockade of Cuba]
Dean Rusk: We were eyeball to eyeball and I think the other fella just blinked.
Robert F. Kennedy: 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.
Helen O'Donnell: And while you're under a rock somewhere with the President, what am I supposed to do with our five children, Kenny?
Kenny O'Donnell: Honey, we're not going to let it come to that, I promise. Jack and Bobby, they're smart guys.
Helen O'Donnell: You're smart, too.
Kenny O'Donnell: Not like them.
President Kennedy: What do you want, Kenny?
Kenny O'Donnell: I want you to sit down.
President Kennedy: Well, I'm not gonna sit down!
Kenny O'Donnell: I want you to sit down, loosen your tie, take a minute...
President Kennedy: I haven't got a a minute!
Kenny O'Donnell: You're the President of the United States. They can wait for you.
President Kennedy: Well, things can't get much worse.
Kenny O'Donnell: 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.
President Kennedy: That *was* a bad day... Hell, I thought there'd be... more good days.
President Kennedy: I'll tell you one thing, Kenny. Those brass hats have one big advantage. That is, if we do what they want us to do, there's none of us gonna be alive to tell them they were wrong.
Robert F. Kennedy: You know, 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.
Kenny O'Donnell: Well you're right... about the smart part.
Kenny O'Donnell: You sleeping?
President Kennedy: No, not much. I slept last night, though, you know, and, geez, when I woke up, I just, somehow I'd forgotten that all this had happened, you know? You know, then, of course, I remembered, and I just wished for a second that somebody else was president.
Kenny O'Donnell: You mean that?
President Kennedy: I said for a *second*.
President Kennedy: Say one of those ships resists 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, and in response to that... they attack Berlin. So we invade Cuba.
President Kennedy: So they fire their missiles... and we fire ours.
Kenny O'Donnell: I got a bad feeling about what's going on in there!
President Kennedy: In the morning I'm taking charge of the blockade from the situation room and Macnamara is gonna set up shop at the flagpot at the Pentagon and keep an eye on things there.
Kenny O'Donnell: Good. Because you've got armed boarders climbing onto Soviet ships, and shots being fired across bows!
President Kennedy: I know. I know.
Kenny O'Donnell: Well, what about these low level flights?
President Kennedy: We need the flights.
Kenny O'Donnell: They're starting them when?
President Kennedy: An hour.
Kenny O'Donnell: An hour. You realize what you're letting yourself in for?
President Kennedy: Kenny, no, we need the flights, because the minute that first missile becomes operational we gotta go in there and destroy it.
Kenny O'Donnell: 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.
President Kennedy: God damn it!
Kenny O'Donnell: They're gonna be shot at, plain and simple.
Dean Acheson: Let's hope appeasement doesn't run in families. I fear weakness does.
Robert Kennedy: 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!
John McCone, CIA Director: Bobby, sometimes there is only one right choice, and you thank God when it's so clear.
Robert Kennedy: You're talking about a sneak attack. How will that make us look? A big country blasting a little one into the stone age. Yeah, we'll be everyone's favorites.
Dean Acheson: Come on Bobby, that's naive. This is the real world. You know that better than anybody.
John McCone, CIA Director: And you weren't so ethically particular when we were talking about options for removing Castro over at CIA.
Robert Kennedy: I don't care how crazy, inadequate or stupid it sounds. Give it to me.
Adlai Stevenson: You are in the courtroom of world opinion and you can answer yes or no.
President Kennedy: [addressing the NPIC photograph analyst] Okay - let's have it.
NPIC Photo Interpreter: 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 build-up in Cuba with the introduction of surface-to-surface, medium-range ballistic missiles, or MRBMs. Our official estimate at this time is that the missile system is the SS-4 'Sandal'. We do not believe that the missiles are as yet operational. Iron Bark reports that the SS-4 can deliver a 3-megaton nuclear weapon 1,000 miles. So far we've identified 32 missiles serviced by about 3400 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 evnt of a launch would have only five minutes of warning.
General Marshall Carter: Five minutes, gentlemen.
Gen. Max Taylor: In those five 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.
Robert Kennedy: How long until they're operational?
NPIC Photo Interpreter: General Taylor can answer that question better than I can.
Gen. Max Taylor: GMAC - Guided Missiles Intelligence Committee - estimates 10-14 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.
President Kennedy: Gentlemen, I want first reactions here. Assuming for the moment that Khruschev has not gone off the deep end - and intends to start World War III - what are we looking at?
Dean Rusk: 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 consequnces will 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...
Robert Kennedy: It'll be Munich all over again.
Dean Rusk: 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 & action on our part, til they give in - or - we hit them. An air strike.
Robert Kennedy: 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 UN inspection, the United States will pledge to never invade Cuba, or aid others in that enterprise.
Dobrynin: If your Jupiter missiles in Turkey were removed also, such an accommodation could be reached.
Robert Kennedy: That's not possible. The United States cannot agree to such terms under threat. Any belief to the contrary was in error.
Dobrynin: You want war?
Adlai Stevenson: [to Ambassador Zorin] I want to ask you one simple question Mr Ambassador. Do you deny that the Soviet Union has placed and is placing missiles in Cuba? Don't wait for the translation, yes or no?
Operator Margaret: [Quickly connecting calls with three other operators] White House Operator. Yeah, Mr. O'Donnell please for Secretary McNamara, go ahead please. Yeah. I've got the President for the Attorney General, go ahead please. What the crap is going on today?
Commander William B. Ecker: Commander Ecker.
Operator Margaret: Commander Ecker , this is the White House Operator. Please hold...
Commander William B. Ecker: Shit.
Operator Margaret: Honey, you don't know what shit is.
Kenny O'Donnell: [attempting to connect Fomin to Khruschev] That's it! They know each other - they're war buddies!
Walter Sheridan: That's pretty thin, Kenny.
Kenny O'Donnell: Well, real life usually is, Walter.
Kenny O'Donnell: Tomorrow the President may have a cold.
Pierre Salinger: A what?
Kenny O'Donnell: A cold.
Pierre Salinger: Kenny do I get any input around here?
Kenny O'Donnell: Yeah, um... how bad it is is up to you.
Robert Kennedy: [about evacuation plans for their family in the event of a missile attack] They're being issued identity cards. When the call comes, the 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 five minutes to get here.
Robert McNamara: We'd look pretty bad shooting up a freighter full of baby food.
Kenny O'Donnell: We sure as shit would.
Kenny O'Donnell: [to President Kennedy] 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.
Jacqueline Kennedy: And I want my kids to stop eating the candy in the Oval Office.
Kenny O'Donnell: That's not me.
Jacqueline Kennedy: Then who is it?
Kenny O'Donnell: I don't rat on my friends.
Jacqueline Kennedy: Well, I'm going to take this whole list thing up with your "friend."
Kenny O'Donnell: Are you trying to go around me?
Jacqueline Kennedy: Go around you, over you, through you - whatever it takes.
Kenny O'Donnell: You're starting to bug me.
Jacqueline Kennedy: Good.
McGeorge Bundy: I need to see the president, Kenny.
Kenny O'Donnell: All right: 2:30 to 2:45 or 4:30 to 5:00 - take your pick.
McGeorge Bundy: No, I need to see him now, Ken.
Kenny O'Donnell: Then go on up - I'll let him know you're coming.
Kenny O'Donnell: Jesus, I... I feel like we caught the Jap carrier steaming for Pearl Harbor.
Robert McNamara: We've 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.
President Kennedy: You know they think I froze in there.
Robert Kennedy: You didn't freeze.
Kenny O'Donnell: You did exactly what you should've done - you stayed out of the corner. You didn't decide.
President Kennedy: 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 to make this come out right.
General Curtis LeMay: 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 destroying them immediately.
President Kennedy: Have you canceled Chicago and the rest of the weekend yet?
Kenny O'Donnell: You don't show for Chicago, everyone'll know there's something going on.
President Kennedy: I don't care! Just cancel...
Kenny O'Donnell: Forget it!
[Kennedy glares at him]
Kenny O'Donnell: I'm not calling and canceling on Daley!
[Kennedy glares again]
Kenny O'Donnell: You call and cancel on Daley!
President Kennedy: You're scared to cancel on Daley?
Kenny O'Donnell: You're damn right I'm scared.
President Kennedy: Well I'm not.
Kenny O'Donnell: [to Bobby] Watch this.
[cut to Kennedy's arrival in Chicago]
Robert McNamara: 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.
Robert Kennedy: 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.
President Kennedy: [summarizing their options] So quarantine, or air strike?
Adlai Stevenson: [clears throat] There, uh, 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 UN.
President Kennedy: I don't think that's possible, Adlai.
Kenny O'Donnell: I need a minute.
President Kennedy: Kenny, no.
Kenny O'Donnell: A minute.
[they enter the Oval Office]
President Kennedy: Look, I don't want a god-damn 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 III - well it's not gonna happen!
Kenny O'Donnell: What did you think Congress was gonna do?
President Kennedy: Well, I, you know...
Kenny O'Donnell: Offer you unconditional support? Kiss your Catholic ass? They don't think we even deserve to be here.
President Kennedy: Well, what the hell do you think?
Kenny O'Donnell: Well, I think we haven't been that impressive today; they have good reason to question our judgment.
President Kennedy: Boy, there is a lot of noise out there, Kenny.
Kenny O'Donnell: You know what you're doing, Mr. President. You're gonna make the best call you can, and you know they're gonna second-guess you. So what? We're just gonna have to take our beatings as we go... So what are we gonna do now?
President Kennedy: I'm going on TV... You know, maybe the American people will go with me, even if their elected representatives won't.
Kenny O'Donnell: You wear something nice for the TV - make sure Jackie picks it!
Kenny O'Donnell: Good speech, Teddy.
Ted Sorensen: Yeah, well, I guess I get to keep my job.
Kenny O'Donnell: No - it was a *really good speech*. I can't imagine what you did with the air-strikes version.
Ted Sorensen: I wasn't able to write it, Kenny. It's kind of hard to write... the unthinkable. I tried, just, I couldn't.
Kenny O'Donnell: You know the pictures upstairs, pictures of Lincoln? He looked so old near the end. When we got here, I said, "That's not gonna happen to us... We were too young."
Robert Kennedy: [the military has gone to DEFCON 2 without the president's approval] Rescind the order! Can all the chiefs! Put Nitze, Gilpatric, and the undersecretaries in charge.
Kenny O'Donnell: We can't do that, Bobby.
Robert Kennedy: Yes, we can!
Kenny O'Donnell: 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.
McGeorge Bundy: 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 amount of...
Kenny O'Donnell: You mean the president of the United States-?
McGeorge Bundy: They are good men...
Kenny O'Donnell: -and the attorney general?
McGeorge Bundy: Kenny, they're good men but it takes a certain character - moral toughness - to stand up to the Soviets.
Kenny O'Donnell: [whispering] 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.
McGeorge Bundy: You know I don't mean that they're weak.
Kenny O'Donnell: [shouting] No, they just lack a "moral toughness"? Jesus Christ, Mac! And 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!
President Kennedy: [watching accusations at the UN on TV] What is it that Sun Tzu says? "Wars are moral contests and they're won in the temples before they're ever fought."
[listens to the UN accusations for a moment]
President Kennedy: 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!
Kenny O'Donnell: Adlai can handle Zorin. He knows the inning; he knows the score.
Robert Kennedy: He better, because nobody believes he's up to this - nobody.
Dean Rusk: The FBI has identified this Alexander Fomin as the Soviet Resident - 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.
Ted Sorensen: All the trademarks of a back-channel overture.
Kenny O'Donnell: Yeah, some back channel! ABC news guy, my god-damn next-door neighbor...
President Kennedy: [Responding to a possible back-channel Soviet proffer] So they'll remove the missiles, and we'll pledge not to invade Cuba or destabilize Castro, or assist anyone who plans on doing so.
Robert Kennedy: I think this may be our first real message from Khruschev.
Robert Kennedy: [Scali has relayed a possible Soviet proffer] Oh, by the way, Scali, your activities now fall under the secrecy codicils of the National Security Act.
Kenny O'Donnell: Sorry, John - no Pulitzer.
Kenny O'Donnell: How do you become the KGB top spy in the United States?
Walter Sheridan: You gotta know someone.
Kenny O'Donnell: [nods] You gotta know someone.
Kenny O'Donnell: [calling from the FBI office] They know each other, Jack - Khruschev and Fomin were war buddies.
President Kennedy: You sure?
Kenny O'Donnell: Don't take it to court, but we've got good circumstantial evidence.
President Kennedy: Well, you're there - I mean, what's your instinct? I gotta move on this.
Kenny O'Donnell: [pause] My gut's telling me that Khruschev's turning to a trusted old friend to carry his message.
President Kennedy: Ok - we're going.
Alexander Fomin: 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.
John Scali: That is correct.
Alexander Fomin: And this is from the highest authority?
John Scali: Yes - *the* highest authority. There are two conditions. The UN must be allowed to inspect the removal of the missiles.
Alexander Fomin: Of course, the UN must also be allowed to observe the redeployment of forces from the American Southeast.
John Scali: I can't speak to that.
Alexander Fomin: What's the second condition, John?
John Scali: Time is of the essence.
Alexander Fomin: How much time?
John Scali: Forty-eight hours. In forty-eight hours, there can be no deals.
Kenny O'Donnell: [reading Khruschev's message] It's ten pages of sentimental fluff, but he's saying it right here - he'll remove the missiles in return for a no-invasion pledge.
John McCone, CIA Director: Mr. President, our early analysis says this probably was written by Khruschev 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 the emotionalism go by. The analysts say it was written by someone under considerable stress.
President Kennedy: Glad to know we're not alone.
Kenny O'Donnell: [Kenny has come home late at night and found his wife awake in the kitchen] Hi.
Helen O'Donnell: Hi... You look old, O'Donnell.
Kenny O'Donnell: You don't.
Helen O'Donnell: It's 2:30 in the morning - are you flirting with me?
Kenny O'Donnell: We got a back-channel communication from Khruschev this evening, feeling us out about a deal. He confirmed it, just a little while ago in a letter.
Helen O'Donnell: Thank god.
Kenny O'Donnell: Jack kicked us out of his house for the night.
Helen O'Donnell: Darn it. For a second there, I thought you'd been fired.
Kenny O'Donnell: No such luck... I'm driving home, there was something I wanted to tell you.
[the red phone begins ringing and Kenny steps toward it]
Helen O'Donnell: Finish that thought.
Kenny O'Donnell: [answers the phone]
President Kennedy: [the president has just ordered the military to prepare for the air strikes] Well, gentlemen, if anybody's got any great ideas, now's the time.
Robert Kennedy: [Kenny and Bobby arrive at the USSR embassy] You smell that?
Kenny O'Donnell: They're burning their documents.
Robert Kennedy: They think we're going to war... God help us, Ken.
President Kennedy: You know, it's been a long two weeks and, uh - 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, 'cause it was just as much a victory for them as it was for us... Enjoy your morning.
President Kennedy: [dictating] Dear Mr. and Mrs. Anderson: I was deeply shocked when advised your son was lost on an operational mission on Saturday, October 27th, 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.
President Kennedy: [talking about the missiles in Turkey] It's a goddamn trial balloon, Kenny!
Kenny O'Donnell: Well, somebody better publicly deny it! Because there's only one way the world's gonna read this: we sell out one of our friends for our own safety!
President Kennedy: [angrily yanks his tie off] Fuck!
President Kennedy: [after a combative meeting with Congress] If they want this goddamn job, they can have it. It's no great joy to me.
Walter Cronkite: [News broadcast] It almost seemed today time stood still the shooting hadn't started yet but there weren't any encouraging signs that it could be avoided but worried, alarmed, afraid perhaps even the American public nonetheless have feared determined and resolved. This is Walter Cronkite, good night
President Kennedy: [President Kennedy addressing the nation on television] Good evening my fellow citizens, this government as promised has maintained the closest surveillance on 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 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 in The Constitution, I have directed the following initial steps be taken immediately, first, to halt this offensive build up a strict quarantine on all offensive military equipment on shipment to Cuba is being initiated, all ships of any kind bound for Cuba from whatever nation or port, will it found cargos of offensives weapons will be turned back, second, I've directed the continued and increased close surveillance of Cuba and it's military buildup, should these military continue to build up further action will be justified, I've directed the armed forces to prepare for any eventualities and third, it shall be the policy of this nation 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