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Obama declares national state of emergency over Libya

President Obama issued an executive order Friday evening that imposes immediate sanctions on Libyan ruler Muammar al Qaddafi, his sons and his accomplices in the slaughter of civilians. In a letter accompanying the order, Obama declared a national emergency over the situation. "I have determined that the actions of Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, his government, and ...

President Obama issued an executive order Friday evening that imposes immediate sanctions on Libyan ruler Muammar al Qaddafi, his sons and his accomplices in the slaughter of civilians. In a letter accompanying the order, Obama declared a national emergency over the situation.

"I have determined that the actions of Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, his government, and close associates, including extreme measures against the people of Libya, constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. The order declares a national emergency to deal with this threat," Obama wrote in the letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).

The executive order itself condemns the "wanton violence against unarmed associates" perpetrated by Qaddafi, his sons, his government, and his close associates. Effective immediately, all U.S.-based assets of Qaddafi and his four sons are to be frozen and transactions intended to move those assets are prohibited. The order allows the measures to be expanded to include any member of the Libyan government who are determined to be complicit in Qaddafi’s brutality.

In a personal statement issued by the White House at the same time as the order, Obama referenced what he called the Libyan government’s continued violation of human rights, brutalization of its people, and outrageous threats.

"By any measure, Muammar el-Qaddafi’s government has violated international norms and common decency and must be held accountable," the statement read. "We will stand steadfastly with the Libyan people in their demand for universal rights, and a government that is responsive to their aspirations. Their human dignity cannot be denied."

Earlier Friday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that more punitive measures against the Qaddafi regime were on the way. "The steps we take in the near future are not the only steps we are prepared to take, if further steps are necessary," Carney said.

Possible next steps include a no fly zone over Libya, as has been advocated by senators, Washington experts, and over 200 Arab organizations.

The last members of the U.S. embassy staff in Libya were evacuated Friday and the embassy building was shuttered, although the Obama administration still has not broken off relations with the Qaddafi regime or publicly called for Qaddafi to step down.

"The flag is still flying, the embassy is not closed, but operations are suspended," said Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy. "We did not break diplomatic relations."

There’s no word yet on how the sanctions will affect the $100 million investment by Al-Saadi Qaddafi, one of the sons, in a film company that’s producing a movie entitles "The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer," with Mickey Rourke.

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin