Defense secretary Robert McNamara endorsed the blockade but admonished the president that “there were differences among his advisers.” JCS chairman General Maxwell Taylor insisted that attacking the missiles was less dangerous than allowing the sites to become operational. RFK argued that this might be the last chance “to destroy Castro.” The president finally made his position clear: a blockade was the least provocative first step. He again suggested that it might be necessary to remove U.S. missiles from Turkey “if this issue were raised by the Russians.” He also ordered that American personnel in Turkey be instructed not to fire the Jupiter missiles, even if attacked, without a direct presidential order. Kennedy directed Ted Sorensen to prepare a speech to the nation announcing the blockade.
Sunday, October 21, early morning and 2:30 p.m.
The discussions turned to the implementation and enforcement of the blockade, defined as a "quarantine of offensive missile equipment.” The president expressed the hope that the Soviets would “turn their ships back rather than submit to inspection.” But he still feared that Khrushchev might instead rush the missile sites to completion, announce that “Soviet rockets will fly” if the U.S. attacked Cuba, and move to force the U.S. out of Berlin. Kennedy also ordered the evacuation of U.S. dependents
from the Guantánamo naval base within twenty-four hours; 2,500 military family members were given fifteen minutes to pack one bag each before boarding navy transport ships for Norfolk, Virginia.