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Humor in the Face of Fear

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The National Photographic Imagery Center photo interpreters had been charged by Kennedy to find a better way of describing the threat in terms of how many missiles could be quickly fired from Cuba at any given point in time. In preparing briefing boards of imagery for Kennedy throughout the crisis, analyst Dino Brugioni took the occasional opportunity to work humor in the somber imagery analysis routine.  After a low level photo reconnaissance mission inadvertently captured a photo of a 2-stall field latrine in Cuba that depicted one unoccupied stall and one clearly occupied by an unidentified Cuban soldier, Brugioni including the latrine photo on a briefing board for the President.  The image clearly distinguished in the President's mind the difference between "occupied" and "unoccupied", a metaphor that translated to his understanding of the state of readiness of the Cuban missile sites themselves, prompting Kennedy to laugh and quip, "why didn’t I have this primer earlier."