Note Perfect, part four

Confidential Report to President Lyndon B. Johnson, Joint Chiefs of Staff, March 3rd, 1968.

Classified: Top Secret – Sensitive

Leaked as part of the Pentagon Papers, February 1971.


The situation on the ground in Saigon is slowly improving, although it is still nowhere near the standards we enjoyed here last year. The so-called Tet Offensive has vindicated everything Senator Russell ever said about Vietnam, and I hope you’ll pay more attention to him on this matter in the future.

I’m sure you have already seen many reports on that subject, and while I was commissioned to write another such, I think that would be a waste of your time and mine. Instead, I would like to take this opportunity to lay before you some ideas regarding the problem of drug use among our men here. Considering that we’re sitting next door to the biggest opium-growing area in the world, and that the Agency seems suspiciously present there and here, there’s surprisingly little heroin use – which is to say that by conventional American standards, it’s like something out of a William Burroughs book, but it’s not managing to drown out everything else. Marijuana and LSD are both also incredibly popular, as are, to a lesser extent, amphetamines, but the drug that’s most commonly in use is Note Perfect.

I’m not sure where they’re getting their supplies from, although like the heroin, I suspect our good friends at Langley know more than they’re saying about that. I assume that they’re acting you’re your blessing, although I do think they could benefit from less of a free hand than they currently enjoy – I know that myself and the men under my command could. But what I want to talk to you about today is the opportunity we have here, from a military standpoint.

Note Perfect is a filthy, disgusting drug, but considering it rationally rather than emotionally, I think that it could have its uses militarily. With the right combination of dose and music, men could fight at superhuman levels and shrug off wounds that would otherwise be mortal. Conversely, if we were to contrive for a quantity of it and precisely the wrong music to fall into enemy hands, we could conceivably destroy their effectiveness as fighting men.

I understand that this will require much careful experimentation to determine how best the drug may be used, and that this experimentation may in fact be illegal under United States law. Nonetheless, I urge you to undertake this process of discovery. Even if it should take too long to bear useful fruit in the current conflict, it is never foolish to add to our armoury.

Walter E. Kurtz,
Colonel, Green Berets

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