everything is never quite enough (mikeijames) wrote,
everything is never quite enough
mikeijames

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last night.

Daily Single's Horoscope for Tuesday, November 22

Out with the old and in with the new! Make a change in your approach at romance. If online personals aren't working, try meeting people the old fashioned way: in person! Accept all party invitations!


"what have i walked into.....sodom and gomorrah?!" well, most would not get greeted with such a shocked exclamation on the day after thanksgiving, but there i found myself with jeans half unbuttoned sprawled across some ostentation red suede couch in the middle of a mcmansion-sized townhouse having stumbled down the stairs still swirling from the imbibitions from the night (and day), having stumbled across the if-i-only-had-a-brain lankiness of that supervisor, who, with pants equally unbuttoned and shirt half-tucked, had sillinesses glistening in the eyes and peeking through the teeth, had me wondering what got heard and what got done even as the friend with whom i had spent the night before came downstairs in sheer underthings, eyes fixated on a constantly vibrating phone, plopping around the kitchen for reading glasses and coffee filters, and on this couch, i lifted my head, mortified and proud at once, to realize that i had wandered into this odd thatch of incest and inappropriateness and had done things i should perhaps not have. it brought into sharp relief this idea that i had bandied about like a ping pong ball nugget of twenty four karat gold: that the height of happiness remains but one winking breath away from a life of utter loneliness. for the past few weeks, i could not shake the juxtaposition of the first bold face clenching kiss of a true romance against the ubiquitous image in contemporary news type of that of a brutal dictators in their final moments of life dying alone on the floor. assassinated. felled by disease. murdered. going quietly. of course, at its genesis, one can blame the tom ford film, "a single man," which brought together that hot flesh-toned idea of youthfulness and chance and possibility with that hollowed still frame of someone collapsed bedside reaching out to memories washed away and the thoughts of what could have. it began not even one full day after i last posted when the brazilian decided to end all communication posthaste. de-friended on facebook. phone calls, voice mails, and text messages all unanswered. unplugged. unhooked. detached. dethorned. forbidden. forgotten. and before i had the balls to block the profile for my own good, i got left nothing but a trail of cryptic wall posts (from someone who barely used facebook to check into locations or post pictures) -- messages like, "a man had better starve at once than lose his innocence in the process of getting bread. GM to all" -- which i spent days unpacking and dissecting only to find myself more confused than if i had read nothing at all. and it wouldn't have bothered me if i had the closure i sought out or even the neverending quest for closure i have sought for years in this journal with the exsomeone. and ironically, i believe, two weekends ago, i may have finally gotten as part of the digestion of this latest jilt. i sat their in the dim glow of holiday lights with the exsomeone's feet crossed casually and perhaps evocatively across my lap as we talked and caught up on our lives and i kept babbling on and babbling on like some crying brook about how i've lost even what little motivation that i once had to even try again or to seek out that dream or to ride that dream trip (girl) and i found myself just stalled out after this last one because it didn't feel perfect, but it felt so right, and i know it fell on deaf ears and sleepy eyes as i repaired to my car, thankful for the small kindness of the exsomeone who invited me to the holiday party out of pity really, but proving a true friend. finally, without any other agenda at this point. at least from my side. but that creek of thought kept flowing, bubbling, ebbing: over thanksgiving afternoon, as i sat over a cold omelet at denny's with my sister (both of us tired-hungover from a night at the only bar in town the night before with my sister's new eckerd college friend), and as i guzzled a family size bottle of wine with the p.r. girl that thanksgiving evening, that i'm not really pursuing people wildly wrong for me anymore. as much as my sister held reservations and as much as i saw warning signs of my own, it still felt right. it felt good. it felt easy. the conversation flowed right. something i find myself increasingly refusing to live without. and the kisses flowed right, which, i mean, isn't hard to come by, but nice to have. like a good billfold. even the sex, which i use to carry around in my satchel of contradictions as both a badge of honor and a pearl of insecurity, just came about so easy. so good. so non-chalantly. morning breath. late night. drunken. sober. before dawn. afternoon. from the side. cowgirl. jack hammer. in the tub. on the couch. as the cats watched on. and who knows what could've come. but it's come into devastating contrast as i have sought recently -- a drunken night after too many cocktails at tryst with the dirtiest person i have ever slept with; an ugly emotional acting out on the morning after the brazilian stopped communicating with me; and the chuck-e-cheese's child's play i had upstairs that morning after thanksgiving as i threw myself into a thistle of incest with someone as well-versed and well-practiced in sex as michiko kakutani finds herself in contemporary literature -- and finally, the personality. that odd eccentric little curiosity of a personality that delighted me so and made me cleve to the brazilian so. something as rare and endearing as that of the exsomeone. something unique enough to always keep me guessing and out of my comfort zone. something i have not found in what sad few dates -- some greek chef i met the next week for dinner at ceviche (fail); some basketball coach from sarasota who i met at ellenton outlet mall only to find myself shocked and disgusted by the discrepancy between the ideal nature of pictures posted and the post-stroke-paralysis-of-face ugliness of the person in real life -- and something i found myself even missing when i bounced between the friends and co-workers on thanksgiving night. after i had had too many glasses of wine, i let the p.r. girl convince me to go to the only bar in town (she lives at the apartment tower on the next block) in cargo shorts, a banana republic polo shirt, and tom ford optical glasses. three things i'd never wear on a night out LET ALONE all three together. and after a few too many cocktails, i ran into the supervisor, who actually had a birthday, and the manager (who actually i know through the exsomeone and who recently had a heart attack which dumbfounded me seeing as most people in that type of recovery don't hang out at bars), and a previous co-worker, who i've had flirtations with before, and the one person i didn't know from work who, i thought, making a wise decision, i could sleep with without consequence and did: but who would've thought i'd end up there when after my last post, i found myself twittering around my apartment waiting by the phone, waiting for the brazilian to get off work even as daylight turned to nightfall and my impatience sitting at home became my impatience sitting at cassis having a cocktail. and another. then, sending a text. then, another. ordering food. having a cocktail. then, another. inviting my sister to keep me company. having a cocktail. de-camping outright to go to a new bar, tryst, up the street. having a cocktail. and finally, going home. not fuming, but emotional, for sure, going online to sites i shouldn't and seeing the brazilian online. writing the brazilian. only to set off a calvacade of blocks, de-friendings, unanswered calls, unrequited feelings. and then, the next morning, even as i wiped away the guilt of my acting out encounter, i found myself face-to-face with the reality of that thing. and for the next two nights, since i worked, i found myself driving by, with no satisfaction, no resolution. just more confused. what exactly had happened? that friday, i enlisted the help of my friends, with the p.r. girl and her old coworker (the p.r. girl finds herself out of a job lately), and we went to a fashion show downtown and my sister joined us at the garden and we all ended up at a big round table at ceviche stuffing ourselves only for my sister and i to stop by tryst -- where we saw the deposed school superintendent -- once again with my wailing refrain, "i just want closure," and after that night, and that weekend, and that hectic amazing race of a week, i found myself midweek watching the film, "last night," and drenched with the idea that the distance from outright happiness to despair remains a short one. the moment of reconciliation in the film comes within seconds of the moment of ultimate doubt and deceit. and the film ends. it's the unhappy parenthesis to my old favorite "heights." but also an interesting parenthesis to the news of the day what with qhaddafi's death and the birth of the obama doctrine. and then, i went deeper into this pit with a viewing of the independent feature, "i am love," only to find myself reflecting on the news of the saudi prince dying in the midst of conspiracy theories syriana movie plots news items about iran seeking to assassinate a saudi prince by blowing up a restaurant. again, the glistening of a great night out to dinner with the image of a saudi prince dead in the street. and the next couple of days didn't help. my sister buying me wine at cassis to hear me rehearse the same thing once again after my bad greek chef date at ceviche. my sister buying me a steak dinner at sam seltzer's. and little-to-nothing changed or morphed. i found myself peeking through an un-blocked profile to see how the brazilian did. and then, applying retail therapy to the wound. finally, immersing myself in travel planning, which between chicago, then perhaps birthday wishes in buenos aires, and seasons changing in shanghai, i find myself worried about money and stations in life and whether i have the verve to carry off this much disappointment even as i live a life as full as i find it with the joys that this life can bring. so when that old coworker launched into the townhouse casting aspersions with the "what have i walked into....sodom and gomorrah?" i found myself wondering then, and even later that morning, as my hook up described the contours of my flesh and as i laid on that old coworker's lap as seductions dripped from those lips and even as that supervisor intimated the same, "what have i walked into?"

Love and Passion!

In a week when many people behave in ways they later wish they hadn't, love planet Venus joins powerful Pluto in commitment-focused Capricorn on December 1 -- an aspect that can create an unshakable love connection. And once feisty Mars squares the Sun on December 2, be sure to keep an eye out for those who act in ways that don't represent the best of who they are.


"Set Fire To The Rain" - Adele

I let it fall, my heart,
And as it fell you rose to claim it
It was dark and I was over
Until you kissed my lips and you saved me

My hands, they're strong
But my knees were far too weak
To stand in your arms
Without falling to your feet

But there's a side to you
That I never knew, never knew.
All the things you'd say
They were never true, never true,
And the games you play
You would always win, always win.

[Chorus:]
But I set fire to the rain,
Watched it pour as I touched your face,
Well, it burned while I cried
'Cause I heard it screaming out your name, your name!

When I lay with you
I could stay there
Close my eyes
Feel you here forever
You and me together
Nothing is better

'Cause there's a side to you
That I never knew, never knew,
All the things you'd say,
They were never true, never true,
And the games you play
You would always win, always win.

[Chorus:]
But I set fire to the rain,
Watched it pour as I touched your face,
Well, it burned while I cried
'Cause I heard it screaming out your name, your name!

I set fire to the rain
And I threw us into the flames
Where I felt something die
'Cause I knew that there was the last time, the last time!

Sometimes I wake up by the door,
That heart you caught must be waiting for you
Even now when we're already over
I can't help myself from looking for you.

[Chorus:]
I set fire to the rain,
Watched it pour as I touched your face,
Well, it burned while I cried
'Cause I heard it screaming out your name, your name

I set fire to the rain,
And I threw us into the flames
Where I felt something die
'Cause I knew that there was the last time, the last time, oh, oh!

Let it burn
Oh oh ohhhh
Let it burn
Oh oh ohhhh
Let it burn
Oh oh ohhhh

###

First time's a charm for 'Last Night' director
http://articles.latimes.com/print/2011/may/07/entertainment/la-et-last-night-director-20110510

Director Massy Tadjedin corralled financing, stars Keira Knightley and Eva Mendes, and the key crew.

May 07, 2011|By Nicole Sperling, Los Angeles Times

Landing your first gig as a director often requires treading a bumpy road, but Massy Tadjedin began by throwing some extra stones into her own path.

First, the then-31-year-old screenwriter set out to make her directorial debut, "Last Night," with a genre that's become endangered in Hollywood: independent adult drama. Second, the script, her own, focused on infidelity, a well-worn subject that requires near-perfect execution. Third, she needed $7 million at a time — around the start of the global financial crisis — when funds for indie films had all but dried up.


"I think it was always a difficult film to pitch, to persuade. For the actors, for the financing.... Especially for a first-time director," says Tadjedin, 34, sipping her fourth cup of coffee of the morning at a diner in Los Feliz. "You [create story] boards and you sell and you peddle your wares that you've spent so much time crafting, but it was a risk for everyone. What if I was a nut job?"

That Tadjedin succeeded in making "Last Night," about a married couple apart for an evening and tempted to stray, is testament to more than her lack of nutiness. Harvard-educated, tenacious, winsome — producer Nick Wechsler calls her personality "enchanting" — Tadjedin not only got her movie made, she got it made with stars Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington, no less. (She cast Worthington after he shot "Avatar," but before it hit theaters.) But it wasn't enough to keep the film from almost stalling indefinitely.

"Last Night" was one of a several films caught in the middle of Disney's decision to dismember its specialty unit Miramax before selling it off last summer. That left the suspenseful drama in limbo for a couple years.

Thankfully for Tadjedin, her cast — which includes Eva Mendes and French actor Guillaume Canet — doesn't seem to age. The film finally had its theatrical debut Friday, courtesy of Tribeca Films, more than two years after production wrapped. (It debuted on video-on-demand on April 20.)

"Last Night" may be Tadjedin's directorial debut, but her time in Hollywood stretches back almost a decade. Born in Tehran and raised in Yorba Linda, Tadjedin was raised on a steady diet of films her dad loved, those from John Wayne, John Ford and John Huston. She landed her first job in Hollywood working for a literary agent at CAA, and writing in the evenings. She spent a year absorbing every script she could get her hands on, then quit to try it herself. She co-wrote her first script with her brother in San Francisco, a drama called "Leo" that starred Joseph Fiennes and Elisabeth Shue.

Tadjedin was then given a chance to rewrite the thriller "The Jacket," starring Adrien Brody and Knightley. Still naïve to Hollywood's ways, she turned in her first studio script to Warner Bros. in Microsoft Word format, not knowing that every screenwriter in town uses Final Draft software.

"The studio executive called me and said, 'This is a Word document, you idiot,'" Tadjedin says, laughing. "I remember being so frustrated pressing the tab button while trying to write dialogue."

Her journey on "Last Night" began in earnest in summer 2008 when she boarded a plane to Paris to goad her pal Knightley into signing on. The British actress was taking a break after back-to-back movies burned her out.

"She said, 'What do you mean you're coming to Paris?' " Tadjedin says, recalling Knightley's reaction. "But I just knew. I remember waking up and thinking it's Keira.... I just chiseled away."

The two were sitting at the touristy Café Flor on Saint Germain when Tadjedin, aided by some fruity champagne cocktails, finally wore down Knightley. "I think it took to the second Kir Royale for me to say yes," Knightley says.

That determination also landed Tadjedin her "other woman" in Mendes. Fearing the part would lack originality, the actress was reluctant to play the co-worker who seduces Worthington's character on a business trip.

"I would have turned it down" if I didn't meet with Massy, says Mendes of her role as Laura, which she thought read too seductive in the script. "It was great to connect with a female director and talk about this woman and not objectify her as the other woman but give her a real true life and make her honest…. Thank God I did."

Wechsler was struck by Tadjedin's confidence and intuition. He had met her years before and tried to get a few of her scripts to the screen before "Last Night" came along. "I've rarely seen a director with enough savvy to pull together the elements of film the way she did. She pulled the cast together, pulled the key crew together. She's a force of nature and knows exactly what she wants. They all fell in love with her."

Filming ended in summer 2009, but the movie sat on the shelf until Disney allowed the film's financier, Gaumont, to take it to the 2010 Toronto Film Festival. Early this year, Tribeca and the new Miramax, now owned by Ron Tutor and Colony Capital, made a deal to release it. In the meantime, Tadjedin continued doing studio work, including a movie she's writing for DreamWorks, and her own projects, one of which she hopes to make her next film.

The anxiety of not knowing where "Last Night" would land wore on Tadjedin for a while but she took comfort in one thing. "I've made my first film — the first one is always the hardest one to set up. That means I can make my second film," she says. "There is always that solace."

nicole.sperling@latimes.com



Genesis 18:20-19:38
King James Version (KJV)
20And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;

21I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.

22And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.

23And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?

24Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?

25That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

26And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.

27And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the LORD, which am but dust and ashes:

28Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.

29And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty's sake.

30And he said unto him, Oh let not the LORD be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there.

31And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the LORD: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty's sake.

32And he said, Oh let not the LORD be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake.

33And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.

Genesis 19

1And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;

2And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night.

3And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.

4But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:

5And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.

6And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him,

7And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.

8Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.

9And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door.

10But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door.

11And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door.

12And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place:

13For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.

14And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.

15And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city.

16And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.

17And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.

18And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my LORD:

19Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:

20Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live.

21And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken.

22Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do anything till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.

23The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar.

24Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven;

25And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.

26But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

27And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD:

28And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.

29And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt.

30And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters.

31And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth:

32Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.

33And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.

34And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.

35And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.

36Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.

37And the first born bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day.

38And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Benammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day.



Iran behind alleged terrorist plot, U.S. says

By Jerry Markon and Karen DeYoung, Published: October 11 | Updated: Wednesday, October 12, 9:32 AM

U.S. officials on Tuesday accused elements of the Iranian government of plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington, allegations that aggravated the tense relationship between the United States and the Islamic Republic.

The Justice Department unsealed charges against two Iranians — one of them a U.S. citizen — accusing them of orchestrating an elaborate murder-for-hire plot that targeted Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi envoy to Washington and a key adviser to King Abdullah. The Iranians planned to employ Mexican drug traffickers to kill Jubeir with a bomb as he ate at a restaurant, U.S. officials said.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said that “the United States is committed to holding Iran accountable for its actions,” but other officials indicated that it was not yet clear who in the Iranian government was behind the alleged plot.

“There’s a question of how high up did it go,” said an administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal White House thinking. “The Iranian government has a responsibility to explain that.”

Federal authorities said they foiled the plan because the Iranian American, Mansour Arbabsiar, happened to hire a paid informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration to carry it out. Arbabsiar, 56, was arrested Sept. 29 in New York and later implicated Iranian officials in Tehran in directing the plot, U.S. officials said.

In addition to Jubeir, officials said, the plot envisioned later striking other targets in the United States and abroad, including a Saudi embassy, though those plans appeared preliminary at best. Arbabsiar has acknowledged that he was recruited and funded by men he understood to be senior officers in the Quds Force, an elite division of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps responsible for foreign operations, court documents say.

An Iran-based member of that force, Gholam Shakuri, is also charged in federal court in New York with conspiracy to murder a foreign official and to commit an act of international terrorism, along with other counts.

The Iranian government denied the accusations, calling them a new round of “American propaganda” and saying they were fabricated to divert attention from U.S. economic troubles and the Occupy Wall Street protests.

“The U.S. government and the CIA have very good experience in making up film scripts,” Ali Akbar Javanfekr, a spokesman for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said in Tehran. “It appears that this new scenario is for diverting the U.S. public opinion from internal crises.”

Ali Larijani, Iran’s former top nuclear negotiator and current head of parliament, described the U.S. allegations Wednesday as “silly and mischievous.” He told the semiofficial Mehr News Agency: “They made noises that they arrested those who wanted to bomb the Saudi Embassy. Foolish words that, by using expanded media coverage, were clearly meant to cover up their internal problems.” He added: “We have normal relations with the Saudis. There is no reason that Iran wants to do these childish things they accuse us of.”

Quick U.S. reaction

The Treasury Department also announced financial sanctions against Shakuri, three other Quds Force officials and Arbabsiar, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the administration would work with allies to devise more actions to isolate the Islamic Republic.

The State Department also issued a worldwide travel alert for U.S. citizens over the suspected Iranian plot.

“The U.S. government assesses that this Iranian-backed plan to assassinate the Saudi ambassador may indicate a more aggressive focus by the Iranian government on terrorist activity against diplomats from certain countries, to include possible attacks in the United States,” the department said in a statement on its Web site. The travel alert expires Jan. 11, 2012.

Arbabsiar appeared Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan and was ordered held without bail in a proceeding that did not require him to enter a plea. His court-appointed attorney, Sabrina Shroff, said outside the court that he would plead not guilty, Bloomberg News reported. Shakuri remains at large in Iran.

Shiite-dominated Iran and Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia are longtime rivals for regional dominance, a contest that moved into high gear with the U.S. elimination of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein as a powerful buffer between them and began to play out in proxy battles in Lebanon, Bahrain and elsewhere.

But some specialists on Iran expressed skepticism that the Islamic Republic would resort to killing a prominent Saudi official — a virtual act of war against that country — in the U.S. capital.

“Why would Iran want to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington?” said Alireza Nader, an Iran expert at the Rand Corp. “I’m not discounting the evidence necessarily, and Iran has a long history of supporting terrorism. But plots against the Saudi ambassador in Washington, D.C., would be outside that norm.”

Other experts said the seemingly unusual method of carrying out the assassination — recruiting what the plotters thought was a Mexican drug trafficker — made sense. “Let’s face it: The level of scrutiny in Mexico is less,” said Fred Burton, a former State Department security specialist who monitors threats in Mexico for the Stratfor group.

Mexican drug cartels are now multifaceted, transnational criminal organizations that have developed increasingly sophisticated car bombs. U.S. federal agents have said the Mexican mafia’s learning curve — from crude pipe bombs to radio-triggered plastic explosives — has been rapid.

U.S. officials declined to comment on Iran’s motive for the alleged plot, saying that the information is classified and that they are continuing to investigate. They also would not specify the other possible targets, declining to confirm other media reports that they included the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington.

‘A deadly plot’

Officials described the details of the plan as chilling, with FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III saying that “though it reads like the pages of a Hollywood script, the impact would have been very real, and many lives would have been lost.’’

The plot dates to early spring, when a cousin of Arbabsiar’s, a senior member of the Quds Force, approached him while he was in Iran about a plan to kidnap Jubeir, according to court documents. The criminal complaint does not identify the cousin, but a Treasury Department release issued Tuesday said a cousin of Arbabsiar named Abdul Reza Shahlai, a Quds Force official, “coordinated the plot” and approved financial payments.

Arbabsiar allegedly told the cousin that he did business on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border and knew a number of drug traffickers. The cousin told Arbabsiar that he should hire a trafficker to carry out the plot “because people in that business are willing to undertake criminal activity in exchange for money,” according to the complaint.

It remains unclear what led Arbabsiar to the person identified only as CS-1. The confidential DEA source, referred to by Arbabsiar as “the Mexican” in meetings tape-recorded by the source, was described in court papers only as a paid informant who was once charged in the United States with a drug offense.

The charges were dropped because the informant has provided valuable information in a number of cases, and in this instance, he quickly notified federal agents that Arbabsiar had contacted him, according to court documents and federal officials.

The two began a series of meetings in Mexico in May that quickly turned to discussing the killing of Jubeir, the documents say. Jubeir, the son of a Saudi diplomat, is one of the most powerful foreign policymakers outside the royal family.

The informant told Arbabsiar that he would need four men to carry out the assassination. His alleged price: $1.5 million.

Shakuri, identified by Treasury as a deputy to Shahlai, gave Arbabsiar thousands of dollars to fund the plot, court documents say. As a down payment, Arbabsiar allegedly arranged for nearly $100,000 to be wired to an account that was secretly overseen by the FBI.

For the site of the bombing, the informant suggested a Washington restaurant where Jubeir “goes out and eat[s] like two times a week,” according to the recordings. When the informant noted that bystanders could be killed in the attack, including U.S. senators, Arbabsiar dismissed these concerns as “no big deal,” court documents say.

“They want that guy [the ambassador] done [killed],” Arbabsiar reportedly said. Federal authorities said the informant was never referring to an actual restaurant.

According to the Justice Department, Arbabsiar was arrested by federal agents while on a layover at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport after being denied entry in Mexico. Arbabsiar waived his Miranda rights against self-incrimination and has provided “extremely valuable intelligence,” according to a letter prosecutors sent last week to a federal judge in New York updating her on the status of his detention.

A team of law enforcement agents has been working “virtually around the clock since the defendant’s arrest,’’ it said.

Staff writers Jason Ukman, Scott Wilson and Greg Miller, correspondents Thomas Erdbrink in Tehran and William Booth in Mexico City, and staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

© The Washington Post Company

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Secret U.S. memo sanctioned killing of Aulaqi

By Peter Finn, Published: September 30

The Justice Department wrote a secret memorandum authorizing the lethal targeting of Anwar al-Aulaqi, the American-born radical cleric who was killed by a U.S. drone strike Friday, according to administration officials.

The document was produced following a review of the legal issues raised by striking a U.S. citizen and involved senior lawyers from across the administration. There was no dissent about the legality of killing Aulaqi, the officials said.

“What constitutes due process in this case is a due process in war,” said one of the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss closely held deliberations within the administration.

The administration has faced a legal challenge and public criticism for targeting Aulaqi, who was born in New Mexico, because of constitutional protections afforded U.S. citizens. The memorandum may represent an attempt to resolve, at least internally, a legal debate over whether a president can order the killing of U.S. citizens overseas as a counterterrorism measure.

The operation to kill Aulaqi involved CIA and military assets under CIA control. A former senior intelligence official said that the CIA would not have killed an American without such a written opinion.

A second American killed in Friday’s attack was Samir Khan, a driving force behind Inspire, the English-language magazine produced by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. An administration official said the CIA did not know Khan was with Aulaqi, but they also considered Khan a belligerent whose presence near the target would not have stopped the attack.

The circumstances of Khan’s death were reminiscent of a 2002 U.S. drone strike in Yemen that targeted Abu Ali al-Harithi, a Yemeni al-Qaeda operative accused of planning the 2000 attack on the USS Cole. That strike also killed a U.S. citizen who the CIA knew was in Harithi’s vehicle but who was not a target of the attack.

The Obama administration has spoken in broad terms about its authority to use military and paramilitary force against al-Qaeda and associated forces beyond “hot,” or traditional, battlefields such as Iraq or Afghanistan. Officials said that certain belligerents aren’t shielded because of their citizenship.

“As a general matter, it would be entirely lawful for the United States to target high-level leaders of enemy forces, regardless of their nationality, who are plotting to kill Americans both under the authority provided by Congress in its use of military force in the armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces as well as established international law that recognizes our right of self-defense,” an administration official said in a statement Friday.

President Obama and various administration officials referred to Aulaqi publicly for the first time Friday as the “external operations” chief for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a label that may be intended to underscore his status as an operational leader who posed an imminent threat.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment. The administration officials refused to disclose the exact legal analysis used to authorize targeting Aulaqi, or how they considered any Fifth Amendment right to due process.

Robert Chesney, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin who specializes in national security law, said the government likely reviewed Aulaqi’s constitutional rights, but concluded that he was an imminent threat and was deliberately hiding in a place where neither the United States nor Yemen could realistically capture him.

Last year, the Obama administration invoked the state secrets privilege to argue successfully for the dismissal of a lawsuit brought in U.S. District Court in Washington by Aulaqi’s father, Nasser, seeking to block the targeting of his son. Judge John Bates found that in Aulaqi’s case, targeting was a “political question” to be decided by the executive branch.

The decision to place Aulaqi on a capture or kill list was made in early 2010, after intelligence officials concluded that he played a direct role in the plot to blow up a jet over Detroit and had become an operational figure within al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen.

“If you are a dual national high in the Japanese operational group responsible for Pearl Harbor, you’re not exempt, and neither was” Aulaqi, the administration official said.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights argued on behalf of Aulaqi’s father last year that there is no “battlefield” in Yemen and that the administration should be forced to articulate publicly its legal standards for killing any citizen outside the United States who is suspected of terrorism.

Otherwise, the groups argued, such a killing would amount to an extrajudicial execution and would violate U.S. and international law.

“International human rights law dictates that you can’t unilaterally target someone and kill someone without that person posing an imminent threat to security interests,” said Vince Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. “The information that we have, from the government’s own press releases, is that he is somehow loosely connected, but there is no specific evidence of things he actualized that would meet the legal threshold for making this killing justifiable as a matter of human rights law.”

ACLU lawyer Ben Wizner said that Aulaqi had been targeted for nearly two years and that the government would appear to have a very elastic definition of imminent threat.

The former senior intelligence official said the CIA did reviews every six months to ensure that those targeted for possible killing remained threats as defined by law and presidential findings.

The administration describes al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula as an associated force of the original terrorist group that was led by Osama bin Laden until he was killed, making AQAP subject to congressionally authorized military force. Officials said Aulaqi was part of an enemy force and posed an ongoing, immediate danger.

Staff writer Mary Beth Sheridan and staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

© The Washington Post Company

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Moammar Gaddafi is captured, killed as last loyalist holdout in Libya falls
By Mary Beth Sheridan, Published: October 20

TRIPOLI, Libya — Former Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi was killed Thursday after being seized in a sewage tunnel in his home town — the final triumph for pro-democracy fighters who have struggled for eight months to take control of the country.

Gaddafi’s death came on a day of intense military activity in Sirte, the last loyalist holdout in Libya, where his supporters had fended off better-armed revolutionaries for weeks. Before his capture, a U.S. drone and French fighter jets fired on a large, disorganized convoy leaving the city that he appears to have been in. It was not clear whether the airstrikes hit Gaddafi’s vehicles, NATO officials said.

Gaddafi was shot in the head during an exchange of gunfire between his supporters and revolutionaries as he was being whisked away from the tunnel in a truck, according to Mahmoud Jibril, the interim prime minister. But cellphone videos played on Arab-language TV stations showed an already bloodied and dazed Gaddafi being escorted to the truck, raising questions about exactly when he was hit. One of Gaddafi’s sons, Mutassim, and his army chief of staff were also killed, officials said.

The taking of Sirte and Gaddafi’s death marked the climax of a war that was backed by an unprecedented NATO air campaign aimed at protecting civilians. Thursday’s events clear the way for the appointment of a temporary government that is to steer the country toward elections.

Gaddafi, thought to be 69 when he died, ruled the country for 42 years, and he had vowed to fight to the death in Libya rather than concede defeat to a popular uprising. He was a brutal, and often unpredictable, autocrat and led this oil-rich nation virtually single-handedly, banning opposition parties and a free press and mandating study of his “Green Book,” which prescribed a supposed rule by the masses.

Gaddafi was the first leader to be killed in the Arab Spring uprisings, and photos of his blood-smeared face quickly spread across the region, sending a powerful message to both dictators and demonstrators elsewhere, much like photos of former Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak being hauled before a court.

Libya erupted in joy as word of his capture and death flashed across Arab-language channels. In Tripoli, celebratory gunfire was so heavy that airspace over the city was closed to traffic.

“This is the moment we were fighting for. Finally we got rid of the dictator!” exclaimed Sharif Hakim, 37, who wore the camouflage uniform of the revolutionaries and joined a singing, dancing crowd in downtown Tripoli.

Jibril said Gaddafi was not slain upon capture. Officials and fighters in Sirte, however, gave varying details during the day of how the killing occurred.

Fighters on the ground told Reuters that Gaddafi and a handful of his men appeared to run from their convoy after the NATO bombing and take shelter in two drainage pipes.

“At first we fired at them with antiaircraft guns, but it was no use,” Salem Bakeer said while being feted by his comrades near the road. “Then we went in on foot.”

The prime minister said Gaddafi was discovered with a group of supporters in a sewage pipe in Sirte, armed with a pistol and wearing pants and a long-underwear shirt — a far cry from his famously flamboyant outfits. He did not resist arrest.

As Gaddafi was being walked to a truck, however, he was shot in the right arm in an exchange of gunfire between his supporters and revolutionaries, Jibril said.

The truck then got caught in crossfire as it headed toward a hospital, and Gaddafi was shot in the head, Jibril said.

“That was the deadly shot,” he said in an interview. The former leader died shortly thereafter, he said.

But cellphone videos showed Gaddafi being loaded on a truck, blood spattered on his face and chest, suggesting he was wounded before boarding the truck.

“We got you!” revolutionaries in camouflage yelled as they crowded around the wounded former leader.

A doctor took samples from Gaddafi’s body, including blood and saliva, to confirm his identity, Jibril said. The doctor also clipped off pieces of the former dictator’s hair — only to discover he was wearing a wig, according to the prime minister.

Gaddafi’s reign ended in late August, when revolutionaries flooded the capital.

Now, the question is whether forces united in their hatred of Gaddafi can come together and govern a country that has never known democracy.

“The challenge was, and still is, to regain security in the cities,” which are effectively under the control of local militias and awash in arms, Jibril said in an interview.

Gaddafi leaves such a vacuum that interim leaders are not even sure what kind of laws they can use to try the thousands of pro-
Gaddafi prisoners detained during the conflict. Different tribes may jockey for power, and conflicts are likely between Islamists and more secular Libyans.

A NATO official said Gaddafi’s death would not necessarily mean an immediate end to alliance action in the country, adding that NATO has not yet held formal discussions on ending the mission.

“It’s not like walking out of a room and switching off the light,” the official said, speaking under alliance ground rules that he not be named. But, the official said, “now that the last area has fallen, we’re not going to see any strike missions, are we?”

President Obama called Gaddafi’s death “the end of a long and painful chapter for the people of Libya, who now have the opportunity to determine their own destiny in a new and democratic Libya.”

World leaders on Thursday called on Libyans to reconcile and not resort to revenge killings. While Gaddafi’s slaying eases fears he might be able to mount some sort of insurgency from captivity, his son and right-hand man, Saif al-Islam, remains on the run, officials said.

Gaddafi’s body was at a mosque in the city of Misurata, west of Sirte, on Thursday night. He will be buried in an undisclosed location, officials said.

The interim government is expected to officially declare the country liberated on Saturday, triggering the appointment of a new temporary government and a timetable for elections, expected in about eight months.

Officials said the ceremony may occur in Benghazi, the eastern city that was the birthplace of the revolution. There has already been tension between that city’s revolutionaries and those from other parts of the country who worry they are not getting their due in a new government.

The new government has made slow progress because of the prolonged siege of Sirte, where Gaddafi supporters put up unexpectedly strong resistance.

“We’ve been in a political no-man’s land” waiting for Sirte to fall, said Peter Cole, a Middle East analyst in Libya. That has fed infighting among the militias, he said.

Jibril said he was relieved that Gaddafi was dead. Still, he said, he would have preferred that the former leader had survived to stand trial

“I wish he was caught, and I would be the prosecutor,” he said. “I just want to ask him one question: Why?”

Staff writers Greg Jaffe in Washington and Michael Birnbaum in Berlin and special correspondent Ayman al-Kekly in Tripoli contributed to this report.

© The Washington Post Company

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Death of Saudi crown prince puts succession spotlight on critic of reforms
By Associated Press, Published: October 22

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia’s ruling monarchy moved into a critical period of realignment Saturday after the death of the heir to the throne opened the way for a new crown prince: most likely a tough-talking interior minister who has led crackdowns on Islamic militants but also has shown favor to ultraconservative traditions such as keeping the ban on women voting.

A state funeral is planned for Tuesday in Riyadh for crown prince Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, who died in New York at the age of 80 after an unspecified illness, the official Saudi Press Agency said.

Now, Saudi rulers are expected to move quickly to name the new king-in-waiting — which royal protocol suggests will be Sultan’s half brother, Prince Nayef.

Moving Nayef to the top of the succession ladder would not likely pose any risks to Saudi Arabia’s pro-Western policies and, in particular, its close alliance with Washington. But Nayef cuts a much more mercurial figure than Saudi’s current leader, the ailing King Abdullah, who has nudged ahead with reforms such as promising women voting rights in 2015 despite rumblings from the country’s powerful religious establishment.

Nayef, 78, has earned U.S. praise for unleashing the internal security forces against suspected Islamic extremist cells in Saudi Arabia, which was home to 15 of 19 of the Sept. 11 hijackers. Yet he brought blistering rebukes in the West for a 2002 interview that quoted him as saying that “Zionists” — a reference to Jews — benefited from the 9-11 attacks because it turned world opinion against Islam and Arabs.

Nayef also has expressed displeasure at some of Abdullah’s moves for more openness, saying in 2009 that he saw no need for women to vote or participate in politics. It’s a view shared by many Saudi clerics, who follow a strict brand of Islam known as Wahhabism. Their support gives the Saudi monarchy the legitimacy to rule over a nation holding Islam’s holiest sites.

“Nayef is more religious, and is closer to the Saudi groups who are very critical of the king’s decisions regarding women and other steps he’s taken to balance out the rigid religious practices in society,” said Ali Fakhro, a political analyst and commentator in Bahrain.

But it remains doubtful that Nayef — if ever made king — would outright annul Abdullah’s reforms, which include the establishment of a coed university where both genders can mix. More likely, Nayef would put any further changes on hold, said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a political affairs professor at Emirates University.

“It’s not good news for Saudis or for the region,” he said. “(Nayef) is the security guy. He is the mukhabarat (secret police) guy. He is the internal affairs guy.”

Although it’s not certain that Nayef will be selected to succeed Sultan, the signs point clearly in that direction.

After Sultan fell ill two years ago, Nayef was named second deputy prime minister, traditionally the post right behind the crown prince. For the first time, however, the mechanism of picking the next No. 2 in the royal succession is not entirely clear.

Traditionally, the king names his successor. But this time it is possible that Abdullah will put the decision to the Allegiance Council, a 33-member body composed of his brothers and cousins. Abdullah created the council as part of his reforms and gave it a mandate to choose the heir.

Abdullah formed the council in order to modernize the process and give a wider voice. When it was created, it was decided that the council would choose the heir for the first time when Sultan rose to the throne, and his crown prince would need to be named. But it was not specified whether it would be used if Sultan died before the king.

The choice of whether to convene the council now will likely be made by the 87-year-old Abdullah, who is currently recovering from his third operation to treat back problems in less than a year.

“It is with deep sorrow and grief that the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah mourns the loss of his brother and Crown Prince, His Royal Highness Prince Sultan,” the palace said in a statement announcing Sultan’s death.

The announcement did not elaborate on his illness. According to a leaked U.S. diplomatic cable from January 2010, Sultan had been receiving treatment for colon cancer since 2009.

Sultan was the kingdom’s defense minister in 1990 when U.S. forces deployed in Saudi Arabia to defend it against Iraqi forces that had overrun Kuwait. His son, Prince Khaled, served as the top Arab commander in the 1991 operation Desert Storm, in which U.S.-led troops drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait.

As defense minister, Sultan closed multibillion-dollar deals to establish the modern Saudi armed forces, including land, air, naval and air defense forces. On more than one occasion, the deals implicated several of his sons in corruption scandals — charges they have denied.

Sultan is survived by 32 children from multiple wives. They include Bandar, the former ambassador to the United States who now heads the National Security Council, and Khaled, Sultan’s assistant in the Defense Ministry.

U.S. President Barack Obama called the prince “a valued friend of the United States” in a statement of condolence. “He was a strong supporter of the deep and enduring partnership between our two countries forged almost seven decades ago.”

“He will be missed,” said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a visit to Tajikistan. “Our relationship with Saudi Arabia is strong and enduring and we will look forward to working with the leadership for many years to come.”

Britain’s foreign secretary, William Hague, said Sultan served his country with “great dignity and dedication.”

Saudi Arabia has been ruled since 1953 by the sons of its founder, King Abdul-Aziz, who had more than 40 sons by multiple wives. Sultan was part of the aging second generation of Abdul-Aziz’s sons, including Nayef, the full brother of the late King Fahd, who died in 2005.

While Nayef has taken only minor roles in foreign affairs, he has been outspoken in one of Saudi Arabia’s chief regional concerns: ambitions by rival Iran to expand its influence in the Middle East.

Earlier this year, he blamed the Shiite power for encouraging protests among Saudi Arabia’s minority Shiites.

Nayef also was involved in the kingdom’s decision in March to send military forces into neighboring Bahrain to help crush pro-reform demonstrations led by tiny island nation’s majority Shiites against its Sunni rulers — which Gulf Arab leaders accuse of having ties to Iran.

With Yemen, he has called for Saudi Arabia to take a harder line with embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was treated in Saudi Arabia after surviving a blast in June and later returned to Yemen.

In August, Nayef accepted undisclosed libel damages from Britain’s newspaper The Independent over an article which accused him of ordering police chiefs to shoot and kill unarmed demonstrators in Saudi Arabia.

Nayef has chaired Cabinet meetings in place of Abdullah and Sultan. He also draws considerable prestige from being among the sons of Abdul-Aziz’s most prominent wife, known as the Sudeiri Seven. Abdullah’s predecessor Fahd also was among the seven.

“Nayef’s closer links to the Wahhabi establishment may see a reversal of some recent reforms, especially regarding women,” said Christopher Davidson, a lecturer at Britain’s Durham University and an expert on Gulf affairs. “But more likely business as usual, I think, with no further major reforms.”
___

Murphy reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writers Maggie Michael in Cairo and Barbara Surk in Manama, Bahrain, contributed to this report.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

© The Washington Post Company


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