Monday, May 12, 2014

John Judge and the Army Inspector's Report

John Judge and the Army Inspector General’s Report

One significant event happened in the summer of 1976, the Bicentennial year in Philadelphia when Legionnaires disease struck the Belleview Stratford hotel and nation was awash in intelligence agency scandals.

John Judge was living in Philadelphia and working at a Quaker Peace action organization on Walnut Street, just a block from Rittenhouse Square, where there was an Oswald sighting in the summer of 63’ and where all the hippies hung out. It was also where the hippest radio station WMMR FM was located.

When I was in high school, MMR was by day an elevator music station, but on Sunday nights guy by the name of Dave Herman changed the world by playing entire 33 1/3 record albums – an entertaining revolution that was labeled “Album Oriented Rock – AOR.” The success of Herman’s “Marconi Experiment” show led MMR to go with AOR 24-7, and they hired University of Penn grad Bill Vitka to run the news department, and he tailored it to the young and hip target audience.

From a friend in Washington John had acquired a recently released report by the US Army Inspector General on the Use of Human Subjects in Chemical Agent Research, which documented all of the military contracts with academic institutions and corporate companies that experimented with LSD and other psychotropic chemicals, ostensibly to learn their attributes for interrogation purposes.

I recalled meeting Ken Kesey at John’s Dayton apartment a few years earlier and talking with him about his early experimentation with LSD. Kesey said he first got it from a San Francisco professor who did his experiments for the CIA and he explained that they experimented mainly on students, soldiers and prisoners, who were all paid for participating.

Among the contracts listed at the end of the Army Inspector General’s Report were some local Philadelphia institutions including the University of Pennsylvania and Ivy Labs and a Dr. Kligman was affiliated with both places.

Knowing WMMR-FM radio news director Bill Vitka was a University of Penn grad, John and I walked to Rittenhouse Square to the WMMR studios where Vitka was glad to get a copy of the report and immediately began to make some phone calls to Penn and Ivy labs and he eventually got to Kligman and interviewed him. Vitka did a segment every day for over a week on the Philly connections to the military experiments, and credited me and John Judge for supplying him with the basic research and report.

While we were working with Vitka, some bells went off and he went over to a wall of reel to reel tape recorders and turned some on, and a few moments later a major Associated Press radio wire service news report came in. Two bells, Vitka said, was important breaking news – a fire or earthquake.  He’s heard three bells but the only time he knows of five bells being used was the Kennedy assassination.

Vitka left WMMR a year or so later and began working for a San Francisco based radio syndicate before returning to Philadelphia to get married and begin working for CBS radio in New York City. He is now a radio news reporter for Fox News radio network.

Kligman later became the subject of Allen M. Hornblum’s book “Acres of Skin”  (Routledge, 1998).

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