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October 25, 2004

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Slartibartfast
Looks like the stuff was looted later.

Cite, please. Did I miss it when the presence of the HMX was verified?

Rob W

Sorry about the lack of a link, its on Josh Marshall's site. But he pulled it off of Nexis. But from what I understand, the last time it was verified as being there was on April 4 by 3 ID, the first troops in the area.

Cecil Turner

"We could have used more troops by deploying more troops. You claim that the supply line was choked off? Why was it choked off? Because there were no troops guarding it."

Rob, there's a practical limit to the amount of supplies and materiel that can be moved over a single supply route. It's not "choked off," it's just less efficient as it gets longer (each vehicle takes longer to make each trip, more breakdowns and traffic tie-ups, less stuff gets through--this is pretty basic logistics). Adding more troops (assault, guard, or whatever) just adds more load.

Cecil Turner

"The political constraints are something the President is supposed to handle. He bungled Turkey."

I'm sure Kerry could have batted his eyelashes and spoke French at 'em. Color me unconvinced.

Slartibartfast

You mean this part:

UN weapons inspectors went repeatedly to the vast al Qa Qaa complex, most recently on March 8. But they found nothing during spot visits to some of the 1,100 buildings at the site 40 kilometres south of Baghdad.

Col. John Peabody, engineer brigade commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, said troops found thousands of five-centimetre by 12-centimetre boxes, each containing three vials of white powder, together with documents written in Arabic that dealt with how to engage in chemical warfare.

You don't store 350 tons of HMX in little 2"x5" boxes, in vials. Or at least, I'd really, really doubt that'd be the preferred mode of storage. At 100ml per vial (that's assumed, but you're not going to get much bigger than that in a box that size. Unless the third, unspecified dimension is in meters), that's 0.2 kilograms HMX per vial, approximately, or 0.6 kg per case, or 600 kg per thousand. We're talking about 350,000 kg, which would be 600,000 of these little boxes.

Seems like a stretch, to me. Still, there's nothing in this story that says that this particular batch of stuff is in fact the 350 tons of HMX that the IEAE had under seal. Unless I'm missing something, which is a definite possibility.

Rob W

I agree with the vials part. I think these are bricks. But the Pentagon official who indicated they found these probably knows better.

The problem is that there is now no evidence that the stuff left on Saddam's watch. None. It went from having some basis in fact to complete speculation.

Slartibartfast

Again, Rob, I invite you to show me the last time this stuff was verifiably recorded. The last time I can see is in January of 2003. Maybe you can point me to something more recent. Yes, I know the Iraqis say it was lost after 4/9/2003, but I'd want to know how they knew it was there on 4/9.

Rob W

There are three reports as to verification. (1) Jan 2003, inspectors fully verify. (2) March, inspectors verify seals not broken (3) Pentagon official quoted yesterday that U.S. troops found it there in April. All are above.

But the problem is there is no evidence the stuff left before we got there. None. The Iraqi government seems convinced it was looted after April 9. That's it. If you can provide such evidence, please do so.

Cecil Turner

"But the problem is there is no evidence the stuff left before we got there. None. The Iraqi government seems convinced it was looted after April 9. That's it. If you can provide such evidence, please do so."

Which is precisely the same amount of evidence the stuff left after we got there. None. If you can provide such evidence . . . otherwise, I think we're back to Occam's Razor.

Slartibartfast

Cites, please, Rob.

martin

Mr. Turner, Slartibartfast et al.

-Allawi's government say the stuff was looted sometime after April 9. Less a month ago at a joint press conference-Pres. Bush said straight out that- hey if you want to know what is going on in Iraq-ask this man, i.e. Allawi.

Ok-Allawi has told us what he thinks he is going on. Was Bush wrong and Allawi is clueless or is Allawi lying, and if he's lying-why is he lying?

Slartibartfast
Allawi's government say the stuff was looted sometime after April 9.

Two things: first, it wasn't "Allawi's government", it was a particular official in the government. Second, he said it was lost after April 9, which doesn't say anything at all about its status before April 9.

Allawi has told us what he thinks he is going on.

Where?

Cecil Turner

It looks like HMX was an issue for IAEA because some had gone missing:

The Iraqi declarations indicate that out, of the 228 tonnes of HMX available in Iraq at the end of 1998, 196 remained at the facility where the HMX was previously under IAEA seal.
The last documentation I can find is from 14 January 2003 when:
A team of five International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors went to the Al-Qa'qa State Company, some 50 kilometers south of Baghdad to weigh, sample, inspect, and seal warehouses containing HMX.
The following day they inspected two storage sites:
A team of three International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors visited the Al-Mahawheel Storages belonging to Al-Qa'qa State Company to check RDX explosive materials. . . . A team of two IAEA inspectors went to the Hitten State Company to weigh and check RDX and HMX explosives.
No data on the first, but the second site at least appears to be in a different complex. On 27 January 2003, the IAEA reported its findings:
IAEA inspectors have been able to verify and re-seal the remaining balance of approximately 196 tonnes of HMX, most of which has remained at the original storage location.
From the above, I'd say the last time this stuff was seen was on 14 January '03 (and there's also an accounting question, since they alternate between implying it's all at one site, and then talking about inspecting others for the same type of explosive--though perhaps they're talking about minute amounts at the other site[s]).

Whoever

I give you guys credit for at least being willing to look at the truth of this situation, even if your predispostion prevents you from reaching the obvious conclusion that this is one more piece of evidence of the massive INCOMPETENCE of the Bush-led operation in Iraq. At least you are not falling into the trap of Hannity and Rush of saying Big Bad MSM, Big Bad John Kerry are lying.

The biggest problem intelligent Republicans and Conservatives I know have with this administration is the fact that it is in no way an economically conservative administration AND it is no way COMPETENT in the way that hardcore Republicans in the past always demanded and respected from their leaders. The only way to support Bush now is to apologize for him and to take the very contradictory position that he's a great leader who is responsible for nothing that goes wrong. Clearly, you can't have that both ways.

Repubs in my family and circle of friends are all voting for Kerry, although some are holding their noses to do it. They just can't accept the degree of incompetence and lying from this administration. It's a clear danger to our security. It seems the only way to stay in his corner, for those who operate on brains, that is, is to just lie to yourselves.

Cecil Turner

"I give you guys credit for at least being willing to look at the truth of this situation, even if your predispostion prevents you from reaching the obvious conclusion that this is one more piece of evidence of the massive INCOMPETENCE of the Bush-led operation in Iraq."

It looks to me like one more piece of evidence that the NY Times is willing to lie to make the President look bad--and John Kerry will then swear to their story--even if it gives the enemy a propaganda victory. (Hmmm, that reminds me of something . . .)

Slartibartfast
even if your predispostion

Projection? You have no idea what my predisposition is, or if I even have one.

from reaching the obvious conclusion that this is one more piece of evidence of the massive INCOMPETENCE of the Bush-led operation in Iraq

Nothing like a completely unsurprising conclusion drawn from insufficient facts to demonstrate that you've got no predisposition. Well, I think this calibrates you fairly well. Goodbye.

Whoever

I never said I had no predisposition. I'm for Kerry, 100% , to save my country from 4 more years of becoming an outcast nation and from 4 more years of our health, safety and environment being sold to the highest bidder.

As for your paranoia about the NY Times, I wonder, what exactly do you consider unbiased media? Newsmax? Drudge? Hannity? Fox News, which has a headline "Soldiers searced al Qaqaa and found no explosives" followed by text of soldiers and reporters saying they DIDN'T search and don't know if there were explosives? Is that your idea of unbiased media?

The fact is the IAEA had these materials under control and they are now gone. Either they were stolen when we should have had the area under surveillance pre-invasion (considering we thought there were WMD everywhere) or they were looted afterwards. Either way, incompetence.

I've listened to hannity bleat away about Kerry denigrating soldiers, when any idiot can understand he is talking about their leadership. I've listened to him cackle on and on about how the media is against the Bushies. But what I enjoyed most today was how Drudge, Rush, Hannity and Fox tried to pull a fast one on the public and fell on their faces...Did you catch this one? ABC got sent a video from a "terrorist" who spoke in American accent saying he would attack America because Bush "destroyed the Taliban and made war with Al Queda". Funny how Al Queda has never gone straight to an American media outlet before, let alone the only MSM the Cons seem to think they have any pull with. Funny how he's American (Karl Rove perhaps). And MOST funny how he parrots a Bush stump speech. You guys need to get a little outside your echo chamber. NO Islamic terrorist is going to claiim Bush "destroyed the Taliban". Geez, you guys are thick....Anyway, big surprise. The CIA didn't bite. "Low concern". Of course, the freepers think ABC MUST air it anyway - naturally, considering one of them made the damn thing. MUST excite fear of terra, or Bush might lose! Doesn't matter if its an abuse of the airwaves, or unethical in the extreme to incite fear on no basis. I'm starting to wonder if Repubs have any fondness left for our democratic traditons at all.

Slartibartfast
As for your paranoia about the NY Times

You know, I don't think I've so much as mentioned the Times, here or anywhere. Much less suggested that anything printed in the Times must be wrong.

I've listened to hannity bleat away about Kerry denigrating soldiers

You could always stop. I can only take a few consecutive minutes of him before I do.

I'm starting to wonder if Repubs have any fondness left for our democratic traditons at all.

I'm starting to wonder whether you've got the attention span to justify a continued conversation with. So far, you've managed to get wrong just about every issue you've picked with me.

Whoever


It looks to me like one more piece of evidence that the NY Times is willing to lie to make the President look bad--and John Kerry will then swear to their story--even if it gives the enemy a propaganda victory. (Hmmm, that reminds me of something . . .)

Sorry, Slartibartfast, I was referencing Cecil's post. How in HAIL this gives "the enemy" a propaganda victory is beyond me. Since I'm guessing the enemy already knows they have the stuff they looted from Al Qaqaa.

One of the most egregious assaults on the democratic process I've seen this election is the continuous inference from the right wing that opposition to our government, to our president, to his policies...amounts to treason. It begs the question what are our soldiers dying for, if the freedoms they supposedly protect are viewed with such disdain and contempt by those who claim to most support them.

Kerry is running AGAINST Bush, Cecil. He has the right and the sacred responsibility to call attention to Bush's failings. Otherwise, why would he need to be unseated? Clearly, the foundation of the Kerry campaign is that Bush is wrong for America. And in the process of proving that, it is absolutely germane to draw attention to his incompetence in both foreign and domestic policy. That is WHY we have a free and open democracy. Why does this even need to be stated? It was obvious to me back in 2nd grade, when our teachers taught it to us.

Slartibartfast
amounts to treason

Haven't indulged in it, myself. I'd say that most of the barrage of crap coming from parts leftward amounts to stupidity, but treason? That requires intention.

Flipside of your argument is, we also have complete freedom to open fire on anything Kerry says that we think is incorrect. That's freedom, isn't it?

Cecil Turner

"How in HAIL this gives "the enemy" a propaganda victory is beyond me. "

Oh, no, the enemy (scare quotes unnecessary) doesn't spend time and effort claiming the US is incompetent or anything. Because that wouldn't make their chances look any better, or anything like that. [/sarcasm]

"Kerry is running AGAINST Bush, Cecil. He has the right and the sacred responsibility to call attention to Bush's failings."

Except he doesn't seem to be able to do that. All he manages is to claim soldiers in the middle of an assault didn't do enough to guard a pile of minimally useful HE stocks. Again, he slanders soldiers en masse and pretends he's making a larger point. (Like the President would give a good crap where one-tenth of one percent of Iraq's explosives stockpiles were.)

He's demonstrated yet again that he's totally unqualified to be Commander-in-Chief.

Whoever

Of course you should fire away at Kerry when you find him incorrect, Slartibartfast. That's why I'm not one who likes to stay pinned down in the echo chamber that merely repeats my own prejudices. I like to hear both sides. I even spend time considering both sides. Sometimes on this site, I've been impressed with the attention to factual detail. I've also noticed that it's usually incomplete, intended only to buttress one side of the argument. It's the same on left leaning sites.

My problem is more with something I've encountered in right wing media - namely, Fox News and Clearchannel radio. This explosives story is a perfect example. Hannity insists that Kerry is repeating outright LIES. Now, whether or not the facts are inconvenient for the President, saying that the US Army command did not adequately secure these explosives, which they had been forewarned about by the IAEA, is not a lie. It's not. Yet Hannity repeats this and reminds his viewers that only he is covering "the truth", refers them to no source other than himself, and informs them in no uncertain terms that the MSM is biased against Bush and will never report the truth. He fields a series of calls from adoring "great Amurricans" who tell him they can't listen to the bias of news outlets like National Public Radio, and get all their info from him.

Next day, Drudge tries to implicate ABC news in hiding a purported Al Queda video that sounds like it was made by a 15 year old Bush supporter wearing his mother's towel on his face. He is immediately shot down. The CIA states unequivocally that it is not a concern and appears not to be real. Yet Hannity continues to cover the story, continues to imply the terrorists will be killing us in our beds unless Bush is elected and continues to imply the MSM is hiding this for Kerry's benefit.

A complete lack of ethics, journalistic or otherwise. A complete overload of bias. Yet all I read about from conservatives is the sins of the MSM.

I listen to this guy the same reason I read you guys. I want to know why my country, founded on the principles of independent thought and reason, has become intellectually enslaved to the concept of an all powerful leader, accountable to no one, who must never be criticized even when he drives our country into a ditch. I want to know how this happened to us and why so many people want to see it continue.

Whoever

Cecil, your post crossed mine. Please. Kerry is unfit to command (love how Bush has been working that code into his speeches lately), but the guy who failed to heed the warnings that preceded the gravest terrorist attack on our soil, drove us into a wasteful, unnecessary war, conducted it with flaming incompetence, drove our deficit through the roof, lost jobs, lost health care and put more Americans into poverty - now THAT'S a guy who's fit to lead.

Your argument would only hold water if you could acknowledge that Bush is also unfit. Have you ever attempted to make your argument outside of the echo chamber? That would show some courage.

Cecil Turner

"drove us into a wasteful, unnecessary war, conducted it with flaming incompetence"

Sorry, Whoever, but I'm not buying either that the war was unnecessary or that it was conducted incompetently--and I'm quite certain from previous conversations that you are not qualified to comment on the latter.

"Have you ever attempted to make your argument outside of the echo chamber? That would show some courage."

I don't normally worry about showing courage. But I do use my name.

Slartibartfast
Now, whether or not the facts are inconvenient for the President, saying that the US Army command did not adequately secure these explosives, which they had been forewarned about by the IAEA, is not a lie. It's not.

Not a lie, precisely. More a statement whose veracity cannot be determined from the current state of knowledge. Otherwise known as making shit up.

Oh, and I ought to have acknowledged this:

Sorry, Slartibartfast, I was referencing Cecil's post.

Remiss of me, I know. I rectify the situation here.

Whoever

OK, Cecil, point taken. I don't have credentials to speak to military competence. Perhaps you'd find Wes Clark's words today more compelling. (Though I'm sure not, as I'm sure your consider your military credentials superior to his.)

Today George W. Bush made a very compelling and thoughtful argument for why he should not be reelected. In his own words, he told the American people that "... a political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your Commander in Chief".

President Bush couldn't be more right. He jumped to conclusions about any connection between Saddam Hussein and 911. He jumped to conclusions about weapons of mass destruction. He jumped to conclusions about the mission being accomplished. He jumped to conclusions about how we had enough troops on the ground to win the peace. And because he jumped to conclusions, terrorists and insurgents in Iraq may very well have their hands on powerful explosives to attack our troops, we are stuck in Iraq without a plan to win the peace, and Americans are less safe both at home and abroad.

By doing all these things, he broke faith with our men and women in uniform. He has let them down. George W. Bush is unfit to be our Commander in Chief.

I'm not sure what my name would mean to you, as yours means nothing to me. I'm not planning on looking you up in the phone book. My point was merely that if you never test your arguments outside of your own comfort zone, it's far too easy to assure yourself of your constant correctness. I think George Bush would be a fine example of that, actually.

Whoever

For good measure, General Anthony McPeak also weighed in on this today:
"The President failed to adequately plan to secure the tons of explosives, munitions and weapons in Iraq and ignored the military commanders who told him he'd need more troops to both secure these explosives, take Baghdad and win the peace.

"The American people deserve answers. The troops deserve answers. Their families deserve answers.

"This is the same President who sent our troops in to battle without the body armor and without armored Humvees.

"We have the best trained, best fighters in the world.  They need a new commander-in- chief who understand that the buck stops in the Oval Office and knows the meaning of responsibilities he has to our troops.  This President has failed that test repeatedly.

"The President seems to think Senator Kerry could not possibly be criticizing him since the President thinks he has never made a mistake.  Let's be perfectly clear: it is the President who dropped the ball.  Senator Kerry is being critical of George Bush, not the troops.  By embarking on the line of attack, George Bush is deflecting blame from him over to the military.  This is beneath contempt."

I don't often see these esteemed Generals referenced in the right wing echo chamber. What is the proper spin on their behavior? Are they also traitors and propagandists like Kerry? Or mere opportunists? I remember one of the lines during the Swiftboat Disgrace was that none of those men could be accused as the liars they were because of their noble service to the country. I see then how it's a problem to dismiss truly great Americans like General McPeak and General Clark. So how exactly do you discredit them, and how do you absolve yourselves when you do it?

Cecil Turner

"I don't have credentials to speak to military competence. Perhaps you'd find Wes Clark's words today more compelling."

I think if you examine Wes's words carefully, you'll find very little to support the "conducted it with flaming incompetence" bit. He's stuck on the "wasteful, unnecessary war" part . . . which is subjective.

"(Though I'm sure not, as I'm sure your consider your military credentials superior to his.)"

Hmm, don't know. They taught us an officer's primary qualification was integrity. And while I'm sure Clark knows more about most military issues, I'm not at all sure about what's coming out of his mouth. To quote his former boss:

"I've known Wes for a long time. I will tell you the reason he came out of Europe early had to do with integrity and character issues, things that are very near and dear to my heart. I'm not going to say whether I'm a Republican or a Democrat. I'll just say Wes won't get my vote."

Cecil Turner

"I remember one of the lines during the Swiftboat Disgrace was that none of those men could be accused as the liars they were because of their noble service to the country."

Actually, the reason the "liar" label didn't stick is because they were a bit more reliable than Kerry when it came to verifiable facts (e.g., Christmas in Cambodia, Alston/Peck engagement, Purple Hearts, etc.)

Whoever

Good one, Cecil. Let's just say there really will never be any question about your credentials stacked up against either of these great men, and you've just proved the hypocrisy of your partisan brand of "patriotism" once again. I think the Republican tactic of making arguments through innuendo and rumor has been their most significant contribution to our declining political discourse. When in doubt, slander a man's character without proof. The contradictions of this, coming from a party that thinks political opposition to a sitting president amounts to slander...the implications are freaky, terrifying. When I come here, I am reminded of the reasons behind the passion the Democrats have this election to take our country back from the brink of fascism it is teetering on.

One of the biggest misperceptions in the echo chamber right now, perpetrated for you very graciously by your hated MSM, is that Democrats don't have this passion. Don't be fooled by that for a second. I've found instead it's the Republicans who feel really queasy voting for Bush, saying "if only the Dems had a good candidate", etc. You won't find many Democrats saying that. We are behind this guy. We are proud of him for being brave enough to take on the Bush/Rove machine. If anyone needed evidence of his extraordinary courage, they've gotten it by watching him fight this fight like the man little coddled George Bush could only dream of being. They thought they could slander him, ridicule him and lie about his record, and he would just slink away. How shocked are they less than a week outside of the election to see him standing tall, full of fight, leading or tied in every important poll...and all the Repub hopes now are pinned on how much voter intimidation they can drum up, how slow they can make lines move, how many voters they can disenfranchise. They are a disgrace to our country right now, but hopefully this election will teach them to clean up their acts and bring back a fair two party system in the future. Our democracy needs that to happen.

Whoever

Actually, the reason the "liar" label didn't stick is because they were a bit more reliable than Kerry when it came to verifiable facts (e.g., Christmas in Cambodia, Alston/Peck engagement, Purple Hearts, etc.)

Cecil, trust me on this. Outside of your echo chamber, these men are now famous as politically motivated liars. They've got their place in history. Hope they enjoyed their 15 minutes of infamy. And hope O'Neill enjoys losing his shirt (and his law license) when this crazy season ends and he is forced to face the music.

Cecil Turner

"Good one, Cecil. Let's just say there really will never be any question about your credentials stacked up against either of these great men, and you've just proved the hypocrisy of your partisan brand of "patriotism" once again. "

You slay me. You think this is some sort of contest to see who has more medals, or more stars, and that guy must be giving out the gospel truth. It's fairly obviously incorrect, since there are several four-star generals (and Medal of Honor winners) on each side. (And some of them, unfortunately, don't have a terrific track record for telling the truth.) But last I checked, they were running about 70% in favor of the President.

That's a distinct subject from someone with zero military experience, such as yourself, making sweeping pronouncements about the competence of a military campaign they know next to nothing about.

"these men are now famous as politically motivated liars"

Yeah, I know, it was on Gilmore Girls (or some other kids show). Get back to me when you can explain where Kerry spent Christmas in '68, why he was trying to take credit for someone else's mission on his web site, and why he got two Purple Hearts for self-inflicted wounds. And the only part that's pertinent to this campaign: why is he still lying about it 30+ years later?

Slartibartfast
So how exactly do you discredit them, and how do you absolve yourselves when you do it?

What, the Chief Executive and CINC can be exposed to criticism, but those at general rank cannot? Odd rules you've thrown together. Generals disagree amongst themselves; when they do so, which one needs absolution, in your estimate?

Whoever

OK, once again I won't use any of my lacking military knowledge to make the case that the Bush-led invasion was incompetent. (I'm sure a layman can't understand that it's hard work to invade a country and not plan for securing the infrastructure, government systems, borders, ammunition dumps or anything else.)

Lets go straight to the horse's mouth . So let's see. IAEA told US be careful with Al Qaqaa. US had satellite surveillance of Al Qaqaa, as Powell's infamous UN appearance proves. Yet the commander of the 3rd Infantry Division who is first at the site on 4/3/04 was never told that this had been a weapons site guarded by IAEA. He admits they barely searched the place, though they did find some small vials of what turned out to be explosives. They didn't do this because they were only searcing for WMDs, and lord knows, why bother searching an ammo dump for that?

There is further evidence that the commander of the 101st ALSO didn't know there were explosives stored there and ALSO did NOT search. He, like the commander of the 3rd, say that US presence on the surrounding roads (not to mention our satellite surveillance) make it unlikelly anything had been removed prior to his arrival there. Local Iraqis say the looting was an orgy that began when the Army left so quickly.

But the administration knew nut-ting (remember Hogan's Heroes?) about any of this until ten days ago supposedly. And are only now scrambling to explain themselves, picking a new excuse each day (not our fault, doesn't matter, nobody reports the good we do)...Their job is lightened within the right wing community by their propaganda brigade of Hannity & Rush, who remind their listeners that all of this reporting comes from the evil MSM, meaning it is out to persecute them, meaning it can't possibly be true. What a weapon of misinformation the right wing has in place to keep it safe in it's pattern of constant lying and avoidance of accountability.

Spin away, Cecil, oh military genius. I don't need to be a West Point valedictorian like Wes Clark to recognize incompetence when I see it. And this incompetence goes right to the heart of Bush's argument as to why he should be the one we elect.

[Slartibartfast: Again, I wasn't saying don't criticize the generals. I would NEVER say that. I believe in the benefits of an informed electorate in every way. What I was referring to was exactly what Cecil did, almost like a knee jerk - rather than address the substance of their criticisms, condemn them personally in some way. I take it from your comment that you also think Clark & McPeak are full of it. I've found in the echo chamber, analyzing a statement from an opposition member is NEVER a priority - only finding a way to dismiss it contemptuously and heap a little insults on besides. Cecil played the part to a T.]

Slartibartfast
I take it from your comment that you also think Clark & McPeak are full of it.

I didn't say that. I do think that Clark, having transmogrified himself into a political (as opposed to military) animal, will probably indulge in the occasional rhetorical excess if it helps him meet his objectives. Politics is, after all, war.

General McPeak retired nearly a decade ago (one decade ago on Monday) and isn't exactly in the know as concerns what happens in Iraq. The man reserves respect; both of them do, for their service. But having served in the military doesn't make one immune from being wrong or wrong-headed. I'd be more inclined to take the word of the fellow who's in the driver's seat about the state of the war, rather than the crowd of retirees second-guessing him.

But that's just me.

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