- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 21, 2001

Awaiting Clinton?

The State Department, due to "conflicting" reports on the citizenship status of presidentially pardoned fugitive Marc Rich, has issued a "sensitive" internal memo on Mr. Rich's citizenship status showing he chose to ignore an offer to relinquish his U.S. citizenship in 1992, the year President Clinton was elected.

The memo, obtained by this column and dated this month, advises that Mr. Rich's citizenship status was officially addressed in 1992 by the State Department, which concluded he chose to remain a U.S. citizen despite the fact that he acquired Spanish nationality in 1982.

"While Rich acquired Spanish nationality," the memo states, "we concluded that he did not intend at that time to relinquish his U.S. nationality based on evidence that he continued, after that date, to travel on his U.S. passport and hold himself out as a U.S. citizen.

"We informed him of our finding in 1992," says the memo, "and advised him that he nevertheless could relinquish his U.S. citizenship by taking an oath of renunciation before a U.S. consular officer. He has never done so."

A separate State Department letter obtained by this column, dated in 1992, said Mr. Rich wrote to the U.S. Embassy in Madrid on Nov. 23, 1984, shortly after President Reagan was elected to a second term, stating he "did intend to divest himself of U.S. citizenship when he became a Spanish citizen …"

"Our records also contain a purported renunciation of U.S. citizenship executed by Mr. Rich before a Swiss notary," says the State Department letter.

Chinese giants

Working in the government-affairs field in Washington crosses all continents and courts.

Glenn Hamer and Michael Paranzino, two former chiefs of staff to now-retired Rep. Matt Salmon, Arizona Republican, have just started a government-affairs company, PPC Strategies, and among the earliest clients is a top basketball agent seeking to bring China's No. 1 basketball star into the NBA.

Yao Ming, a 7-foot-6-inch basketball superstar in China, could go first in the NBA draft this June, provided he receives the proper permission from both Chinese and American authorities to play in America.

That's where PPC Strategies comes in. The firm is arguing that Mr. Yao's entry into the United States would not only spark new interest in the NBA, but be a boon for U.S.-China relations.

"Now that's worth fighting for," says Mr. Hamer.

Didn't know basketball was big in China, you say?

One poll found that the two most recognized Americans among the Chinese people are, oddly enough, inventor Thomas Alva Edison and basketball legend Michael Jordan.

Another mission

F. Andy Messing Jr., retired Special Forces major and executive director of the National Defense Council Foundation, who has advised President Bush on defense and foreign affairs, was buying up all the lollipops he could afford yesterday.

"It's how I keep from getting shot in the back," Mr. Messing explains, pointing during an interview yesterday to one of many photographs on his office wall showing children in tattered clothes rushing after him along a dusty road in some Third World nation.

"I'm passing out lollipops in that picture," he explains.

Mr. Messing, 54, has volunteered to fly medical relief missions into 27 areas of conflict, including Somalia, Haiti and Bosnia. This week, he's carrying crates of medicine into El Salvador, rocked by four earthquakes since Jan. 13, the latest yesterday.

All 245 types of medicine aspirin to heart pills were donated in recent weeks by doctors in the Mount Vernon area of Northern Virginia.

"I do it for the grins, to see them smile for once," says Mr. Messing. "Of the 5 million people in El Salvador, 1 million are homeless. These are our neighbors, and we need to be doing more."

Upon landing in El Salvador, Mr. Messing and his medicine will be flown by a Salvadoran military helicopter to the Agape Mission near Sonsonate, where he will be met by Catholic Franciscan priest Father Flavin Mucci.

"This priest left Boston 29 years ago, turning down a draft offer by the Boston Red Sox to play baseball," Mr. Messing says. "This guy is like the Mother Teresa of El Salvador. He's pulled kids out of trash cans. People come up to him just to touch him. He's the holiest guy I've ever met, and I'm a Protestant."

Moses production

Shelia Moses, who with comedian and social activist Dick Gregory co-authored "Callus on My Soul: A Memoir," has signed on with Showtime to take the book to television.

Ms. Moses, who lives here in Washington, has written several books and plays. Under her agreement with Showtime, she'll be executive producer of the televised special.

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