Kennedy Tapes Released

Thirty-five years ago this Tuesday, Americans were filing past the coffin of John f. Kennedy, on the eve of his funeral. Now, we have new insight into his presidency on audio tapes released by the Kennedy Library, reports CBS News Correspondent Harry Smith.

The Cuban Missile Crisis brought America a dare away fom nuclear war. But when Soviet missiles were agreed to be removed from Castro's island, a relieved President Kennedy apprised his predecessor, Harry Truman.

"I'm just pleased to death the way these things came out," said Truman.

President Eisenhower was equally pleased but warned the young president that the Cubans might attack America's military base.

"That's why I don't think the Cuban story can be over yet. I think we will retain sufficient freedom to protect our interests if they engage in subversion, if they attempt to do any aggressive acts and so on, then all bets are off. In addition, my guess is that by the end of next month, we'll be toe to toe in Berlin anyway," remarked Kennedy.

One year later and days before he was assassinated, Kennedy recorded his thoughts about the assassination of the Vietnamese president and his brother.

Kennedy was dismayed because America had cabled his tacit approval to the Vietnamese generals who brought Diem down.

"I feel that we must bear a good deal of responsibility for it beginning with our cable of early August in which we suggested the coup. I should not have given my consent to it."

Kennedy was regretful and second-guessed himself: a prophetic prelude to America's tortured decade to come in Vietnam.