SALON Daily Clicks: Newsreal

Preoccupation with the gangsta life became a self-fulfilling prophecy for the top rapper from each coast.


Charles Jones
March 14, 1997 1:00AM (UTC)

first off, R.I.P. to Christopher Wallace BKA (better known as) Notorious B.I.G., age 24, a talented young man who died senselessly Sunday at the hands of someone who was most likely the same color as he.

Everyone knew it was true when we first heard rumors he was dead. "Aye! Somebody just killed that fool Biggie Smalls!"

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"Damn!" was the only reply.

Despite their similarities, the two, B.I.G., also called Biggie Smalls, and Tupac Shakur feuded furiously -- in songs, in interviews and in person, pulling guns, traps, setups. All heaven and earth knows Tupac accused B.I.G. of being the attacker in the first attempt on his life in 1994 and spent much of the rest of his career trying to humiliate the "Notorious" one.

Ironically, Tupac and Big were at one time close friends. What severed the friendship? To quote Tupac, "Biggie got signed." The music industry destroyed their friendship, after which both set off on their own self-destructive paths. Both ended at the same point: bullet-riddled cars with bullet-riddled young black men slumped over inside.

Check out another similarity: Both men had the same underlining theme in their music -- death.

In light of their deaths, I've pondered their recorded pasts and fought the impulse to loathe both the men and their messages. First, Tupac, because he was once a voice of hunger and purity -- of "the young black male." In his first hit, "Brenda's Got a Baby," he reminded his audience:

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I hear Brenda's got a baby, but Brenda's barely got a brain.
Damn shame the girl could hardly spell her name
That's not our problem, that's up to Brenda's family.
But let me show how it effects our whole community ...
Ayo and it's sad cuz I bet she doesn't know,
Just because you're in the ghetto doesn't mean you can't grow.

But Tupac regressed both mentally and spiritually as his financial status progressed. In his last album, "Makavelli the Don Killuminati," he moved from Brenda to:

Come with me, hail Mary Nigga! Run quick see, what do we hear now?
Do you want to ride (kill) or die? die. die. die. die. die, die, die, die.

Tupac fell from grace. Angelic, idealistic, the transformed, powerful Tupac became all too human, therefore inhuman. Whereas the B.I.G. man always saw his fate coming and voiced his fear frequently, from his first album, "Ready to Die" to his second and last, "Life After Death."

Even though both men expressed fear and resentment about their destinies, neither made the necessary changes in music, let alone lifestyle, to escape them. Their fears became self-fulfilling prophecies.

Both men have left legacies musically. Tupac's cronies are the Outlaw Immortals (once known as the Thug Life). B.I.G.'s junior mafia are now faced with the task of making good on their mentor's memories by making good of themselves. Early signs aren't good: The Outlaw Immortals just recently lost a member, the only member who was willing to assist police in finding Tupac's killers. He was shot in the head.

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Others, less famous, like Seagram and Mr. C from the San Francisco Bay Area have also been killed. Men who should be raising their children and making more millions have met violent and bloody fates. Men who, even though at times they rebelled against such senseless loss of life, chose to accept this as reality and just "tell it like it is."

By contrast, rappers like Chuck-D and KRS One, Rass Kass and Outkast tell it how it should be.

Rest In Peace Seagram, Mr. C, Tupac and his all-too-mortal comrade Notorious B.I.G, examples all for those who criticize the music and martyrs for those who follow it.

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To quote another spiritualist/edu-tainment rap group, Goodie M.D.B., "The good die mostly over bullshit."
March 13, 1997

Charles Jones writes for YO! Youth Outlook, a newspaper by and about young people.

) Pacific News Service



OUT IN THE COLD

Richard Nuccio tried to tell the State Department and the White House about CIA agents murdering an American citizen in Guatemala. They didn't want to listen. The CIA still doesn't. And nobody wants Richard Nuccio around.


BY JEFF STEIN
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beginning in 1993, U.S. State Department official Richard Nuccio started ringing alarm bells about CIA violations of human rights in Central America. In 1994, he found a document buried in State Department files tying a local CIA agent to the killing of a Guatemalan rebel leader, Efraim Bamaca, who was married to Harvard Law School graduate Jennifer Harbury. Later he discovered a CIA agent was linked to the murder of Michael Devine, an American citizen living in Guatemala. Nuccio, a former White House envoy to Guatemala, was ignored by his State Department superiors and by the White House. Refusing to go along with the Clinton administration's handling of the cases, Nuccio turned the Bamaca document over to then-Rep. Robert Torricelli, D-N.J., who promptly leaked it to the New York Times.

Nuccio won the battle but lost the war. Two senior CIA officials connected with the cases were fired, but a vengeful investigation of the leak, instigated by the agency, ended with the withdrawal of Nuccio's security clearance, effectively blocking his advancement within the foreign policy establishment. Two weeks ago, Nuccio quit the department and went to work for now-Sen. Torricelli.

In the first extensive interview since his resignation, Nuccio talked to Salon about the coverup, the current state of a "mutinous" CIA, and its nominated director, Anthony Lake.

You use the word "mutiny" to describe what's going on at the CIA. What do you mean?

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The CIA has to be the only agency in the U.S. government whose members call for the removal of its head after refusing to carry out orders that both its head and the president have issued.

What did they refuse to do?

Last year, a directive from (former CIA Director) John Deutch called on the CIA to balance the human rights records of its recruits with the quality of information they might acquire. It was the first time a CIA chief had ever decided it might not be in the interest of the United States to have people on the payroll who are committing systematic human rights abuses.

That directive was issued as a result of your disclosures that the CIA was involved with murderers in Guatemala, right?

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There was an earlier internal CIA review in 1994 to assess whether informants were earning their money. About 1,000 agents were dismissed because they were poor producers. When the Guatemala scandal broke, Deutch ordered the review to include egregious human rights violators, and about 100 of them were dismissed on that basis. Most of them were in the Caribbean and Latin American area.

How did CIA people "mutiny" against the directive?

By continuing to protest against it, which has been described as a "morale problem." But look at it this way: If your chief of police issued a directive that cops on the beat should not use nightsticks against unarmed people, and the Policeman's Benevolent Association issues a statement saying the police chief should be fired, I don't think you would call that a "morale problem." You would more likely call it disobedience, or a failure to follow orders.

And that's what happened to John Deutch in October 1996, when people identifying themselves as senior officers in the CIA operations directorate went to U.S. News and World Report and said, "This guy can't stay."

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What was the White House response to that? Did it shoot a rocket to those people saying, "You WILL follow this directive?"

If it did, we don't know about it. And having worked at the White House for almost a year, I don't know anybody there who would've fired off such a rocket.

Before deciding to tell then-Rep. Torricelli that a CIA asset was involved in the killing and coverup of the murder of an American citizen in Guatemala, you had talked to your bosses at the State Department about it?

Yes, in fact as far back as 1993, I wrote them a memo saying I was seeing a number of things in the intelligence area that I believed were inconsistent with the human rights policies of the Clinton administration.

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Who did you give the memo to in the State Department?

Alec Watson, the assistant secretary for Inter-American Affairs. He said, "Thank you very much," and put it in a drawer.

Then what?

I took the memo to the National Security Council, at the White House.

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Who did you give it to there?

I went to Nancy Soderburger, who was a political appointee. She had come from Sen. Kennedy's office. She had a similar reaction: "Don't show me those kinds of memos."

Later, when you found out there was a connection between the disappearance of Jennifer Harbury's husband and a CIA agent in Guatemala, you took the same route?

Right. I discovered a memo buried in the State Department's files in mid-October 1994. I met with Jennifer; she was even brought to the White House for a meeting. But I never discussed that memo with anyone except my superiors in the State Department, in the National Security Council and with a couple staffers in Congress who were aware of the memo.

So for a while, you were part of the coverup, too.

Well, I kept saying to people in the State Department, "This memo makes me out to be a liar, it makes the administration out to be a liar, and we're in a vulnerable position. We need to take action." But again, I was overruled.

In early February 1995 we learned that a particular intelligence source -- who we'd been pressing to know more about and been told to ignore -- was in fact connected to the CIA; and connected not just to the disappearance of Jennifer's husband, but to the murder of an American citizen, Michael Devine. That led me to believe what has still not been adequately investigated: that the agency deliberately tried to lead us away from finding out more about Jennifer's case in order to cover up their connection to something that they knew was much more serious -- the murder of an American citizen.

In 1995, (then-Secretary of State) Warren Christopher vowed to Congress that anyone involved in the coverup would be punished. Did that happen?

Deutch fired two very senior people in the CIA who were directly responsible for lying to Congress and the White House about these matters, and he disciplined a number of others. That's unusual at the CIA. The people who screwed up the Aldrich Ames case were given letters of commendation. But at the State Department, the person who ran the Central American office -- who should have known about the existence of the report -- was promoted.

And you were essentially tossed out.

It was the first time ever in the history of the United States that there was a criminal investigation conducted against someone in the executive branch for providing truthful information to Congress. And it's the first time that the CIA has succeeded in taking away the security clearance of someone in another agency -- again, for providing truthful information.

That must have been a very painful period.

It was most painful when I couldn't talk about it publicly, because I didn't want to embarrass the administration. That was the hardest of all, to be quiet, to not defend myself, to hope that if I remained quiet, the administration would find a way to lend support. But they didn't.

Including Tony Lake, who was then national security advisor?

Let me tell you about the last conversation I had with Tony Lake, in November of 1996. He'd heard I was going to be appearing on "60 Minutes." It was the first time I'd talked to him since I left the White House for the State Department in 1995. He said he did not know that a panel had been appointed to review the denial of my security clearance -- the likely outcome of which was the denial of my clearance. He did not know that it meant, in effect, that I would no longer be able to work in the foreign policy area in the U.S. government. Nor did he know any of the grounds on which my clearance was being denied.

But he wished me well. He said, "I thought we'd reached some sort of compromise, I thought this was being taken care of. You're not happy?" And my answer was, "No, I'm not happy." It was clear that he was either pretending, or he wasn't informed at all about what was being done to someone who used to work for him -- and about whom he'd said in letters and publicly that he had the highest regard for.

Yet, when I was being ground up by an agency of his government -- which he had coordination responsibilities for as national security advisor -- it was less important to him to find out what was really going on than to put some distance between me and himself.

In other words, he wasn't about to take on the CIA on your behalf.

I guess if getting confirmed to the job of CIA director was the most important thing to me, that would be the position I'd take as well.

Really?

(Laughs) Well, if getting confirmed was the most important thing to me. But I hope other things, like loyalty and friendship, would figure on that balance as well.


Charles Jones

Charles Jones writes for YO! Youth Outlook, a newspaper by and about young people.

MORE FROM Charles Jones



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