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Boardman writes: "What do you say about the blameless man who was held at the Guantanamo concentration camp for 13 years, without trial, without charges against him, without credible evidence that he had done anything remotely deserving of 13 years of torture and isolation, with no hope of anything remotely like justice? If you happened to be US senator Dianne Feinstein, you might write a chilly op-ed piece for The New York Times."

Senator Dianne Feinstein. (photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Senator Dianne Feinstein. (photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

US Senator Defends the Empire Against Freeing the Innocent

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News

08 November 15


US goes on punishing Younous Chekkouri for, well, nothing really….

hat do you say about the blameless man who was held at the Guantanamo concentration camp for 13 years, without trial, without charges against him, without credible evidence that he had done anything remotely deserving of 13 years of torture and isolation, with no hope of anything remotely like justice?

If you happened to be US senator Dianne Feinstein, you might write a chilly op-ed piece for The New York Times, calling for the umpteenth time since 2007 for closing the festering moral abscess you previously supported. In your op-ed you won’t mention those eight years of failure to close the human rights crime scene in Cuba because, after all, you never tried very hard to get it closed. You just tried hard to get on the record appearing to try to get it closed. In 2008, you even sounded critical of Guantanamo, without actually challenging any of its underlying assumptions:

Cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners under American control violates our nation’s laws and values….

It damages America’s reputation in the world and serves as a recruitment tool for our enemies….

Perhaps most importantly, it has also limited our ability to obtain reliable and usable intelligence to help combat the war on terror, prevent additional threats and bring to justice those who have sought to harm our country.

So now, in late 2015, do you stand up for the freedom of a former Guantanamo prisoner jailed in Morocco, after US promises of freedom were betrayed weeks ago? Not even close – instead you write this torpid op-ed in which you fester first over the way jihadists use Guantanamo as a recruiting tool (and why wouldn’t they? Even you sort of admit that our torture camp is “a violation of the rule of law” – and has been since the beginning, when you supported it). Then you fret over the expense of running a lawless prison camp (you don’t call it “lawless”) and you never, never mention any victim by name or acknowledge the ghastly injustices they have suffered. You certainly show no concern for Younous Chekkouri and his continued abuse with US complicity. Instead you only note, appallingly casually, that:

During the Bush administration, 779 people were brought to Guantánamo, all without charge. Over time we’ve learned that many were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time and shouldn’t have been detained in the first place. [emphasis added]

Feinstein, as a 1% rich California Democrat, has neatly portrayed herself as an ugly example of the worst of America’s callous disregard for the humanity of others. Feinstein has expressed the icy, imperial view with the familiar moral numbness, the hardened indifference that has characterized US national behavior in its extreme form since 2001. Anyone with an open mind, paying the slightest attention to the emergence of the Guantanamo gulag, learned quickly at the start that the place was a moral black hole and a vicious judicial sham. Guantanamo was created precisely to allow the US to operate outside the law, as literally an outlaw nation. The US was paying bonuses for prisoners, any prisoners, regardless of evidence, regardless of the credibility of the accuser, regardless of any rational process in the midst of the nation’s narcissistic post-911 panic.

For all her lack of humanity, Senator Feinstein is hardly the worst of Congress

Feinstein does not acknowledge her role in the crime of Guantanamo, nor does she acknowledge directly that it is a crime at all. Her appeal is to others in Congress who continue to insist that the US continue committing Guantanamo crimes in perpetuity. In this context, her suggestion that Congress allow the US to set free the 53 Guantanamo hostages already cleared for release is an almost radical idea. Yes, she almost calls outright for the US to free the innocent. But not quite. Her Guantanamo “solution” reads like an Andy Borowitz column, except the senator is serious:

In particular, we need a proposal for bringing detainees to the United States and holding them securely for as long as necessary.

That’s exactly the problem with Guantanamo! “Detainees” are extra-legal prisoners, they are hostages, they can be held indefinitely, without charges, without evidence of wrongdoing, with no more against them than “simply being at the wrong place at the wrong time” (a rather apt description of Feinstein as a senator). This solution is a corrupt manipulation that does nothing to restore the rule of international law, the principle of due process of law, or any of the other affronts to justice the US continues to make with impunity.

This is not an extreme rendition of Feinstein’s argument. She reiterated the lawlessness she endorses in even clearer terms a few paragraphs later, leaving it up to the US to decide what to do about people against whom there is no evidence:

Third, for those relatively few detainees who can’t be tried because of a lack of evidence but still need to be held until the end of hostilities, bringing them to the United States presents a more cost-effective option. [emphasis added]

So who decides that these people “need to be held”? And more important, who decided that we have reached “the end of hostilities”? Feinstein assumes the US is engaged in endless war, and expresses no objection to that. She wants to close Guantanamo as prison real estate. That’s all. She has no problem with continuing the lawless behavior Guantanamo represents as long as it’s more out of sight. Hers is the consensus view in national politics. Like her equally shabby peers, she’s a politician, she’s concerned only about looking good, she doesn’t care about doing good.

US bought Chekkouri as a hostage, paid good money for him

“779 people were brought to Guantanamo, all without charge,” writes Feinstein with the all-too-common official attitude: “stuff happens.” In a just world, stuff would be happening to the moral outlaws who perpetrated and still maintain the blatant criminal enterprise that Guantanamo has been from the start. If Feinstein had any compassion, she could highlight the Younous Chekkouri case as an example of the moral chaos created by US Guantanamo policy. Secret military files titled “Gitmo Files” published by Wikileaks, including Chekkouri’s case, have been available since April 2011.

In October 2005, officials at Guantanamo acknowledged in writing that Chekkouri was a relief worker who had done relief work and had no identifiable connection with any terrorist group (reiterating similar circumstantial, non-substantive findings in November 2004). Some of the assumed facts had been gathered by torturing Chekkouri and others. Nevertheless, these officials used conclusory inferences unsupported by any evidence as the basis for continuing to hold Chekkouri. The officials promised “a meaningful opportunity to be heard.” The 16-page, declassified transcript of an undated status review hearing (#002562) portrays the tribunal as merely reiterating the conclusory inferences without presenting supporting evidence. The transcript portrays Chekkouri as open, direct, responsive to all questions, and denying any terrorist activity or connection (except for fellow prisoners). After several similar hearings, Chekkouri was “recommended for further detention” in an official assessment in November 2008 that includes much more information (true or false) than was addressed in the available records of the “meaningful opportunities to be heard.”

Younous Abdurrahman Chekkouri, now 47, is represented by the UK human rights organization Reprieve, which says about its work: “We help people who suffer extreme human rights abuses at the hands of the world’s most powerful governments.” Reprieve is still pushing Chekkouri’s case because he is still not free, even though he has been released from Guantanamo 13 years after he was kidnapped:

Younous was doing charity work in Afghanistan and starting a business when he was rounded up with other Arabs and taken to a prison in Kandahar.

He was sold to US forces for a bounty and then taken to Guantánamo Bay. He was held without charge for 14 years before finally being released to his native Morocco in September 2015.

Now the US is tolerating a substitute Morocc-antanamo holding Chekkouri

In 2011, attorneys for Chekkouri challenged the supposed evidence against him in a habeas corpus hearing. The US government’s case fell apart and Chekkouri was eventually re-classified as suitable for transfer. In September 2015, the US transferred Chekkouri from Guantanamo to Morocco, where he was born in 1968. The Moroccans took Chekkouri into custody immediately and he remains in custody, under threat of a Moroccan trial based on the discredited US evidence. US officials have told Reprieve that they released Chekkouri into Moroccan custody on the understanding that he would not face charges and that he would be held no more than 72 hours for any reason. The Moroccan government says there was no such understanding. Attorney Cori Crider, who represents Chekkouri and is a director at Reprieve, said on November 5:

Someone is just not telling the truth here. Either US State Department officials misled me and my client about Morocco’s intentions when my client was in Guantánamo, or Moroccan officials have been making diplomatic promises freely and breaking them just as fast. Which is it? And if the State Department did tell Mr. Chekkouri the truth and the promises have been broken, why isn’t this being made a major issue in US-Moroccan relations now?

Attorney Crider also wrote to US attorney general Loretta Lynch, who was then visiting Morocco, asking her to “urgently intervene” to persuade Moroccan authorities to honor the assurances made by the US in order to get Chekkouri to agree to go to Morocco. So far, Attorney General Lynch is not known to have acted to honor her government’s promises. US ambassador to Morocco Dwight Bush has refused to offer any assistance. Officials at the US State Department have apparently done nothing for Chekkouri, even though they had assured him he would be held no more than 72 hours and he has in fact been imprisoned since September 15 in Morocco, where his next hearing is scheduled for December 3.

This is all of a piece of official US bad faith on Guantanamo. Let Morocco look bad doing American dirty work (like exporting prisoners for torture). The US can claim clean hands and no responsibility, and it’s all a degenerate lie in service of Dick Cheney’s version of American exceptionalism.

And Dianne Feinstein, along with most of the rest of Congress, is part of the corrupt charade. With all the moral fervor of a profitable plantation owner trying to weasel her way onto the right side of history, Feinstein calls for closing Guantanamo, sooner or later, some day, like the President says he wants, and “Congress should be working with him to finally shut it down.” Sure, the President ordered Guantanamo closed his first day in office, then dithered fecklessly from January 2009 till now, while Congress was led by fear-mongering torture-tolerating toadies who were determined to punish someone, anyone, regardless of guilt, so long as the person was some third world color. Feinstein speaks no truth to that power, she does not acknowledge that Guantanamo is an American outrage that is entirely of America’s making, entirely of America’s perpetuation, and entirely to America’s shame, were America capable of feeling shame any more.

By any reasonable standard, Guantanamo and the rest of the US secret torture and incarceration network represent a continuing, collective crime against humanity. Meanwhile, at Guantanamo, the US is again inflicting genital searches on prisoners before they can meet with their attorneys, sometimes keeping such simple due process from going forward. In all fairness, America is not at all exceptional in such crimes.

William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


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+37 # PeacefulGarden 2015-11-08 12:10
Psychologists call this enabling.
+10 # PeacefulGarden 2015-11-08 19:03
Well, I think no one gets this, but me thinks she grew up in an abusive house; where one parent complained and complied to a abusive one.

This kind of psychological object is perfect for being a senator. The senate is mom and the military (and police) are the alcoholic dad (the rich dad).

Doesn't she do some weird ritualistic hour long prayer before senate or something like that?
+8 # Rick Mason 2015-11-09 11:10
Most Psychologists call it Psychopathy.
+7 # PeacefulGarden 2015-11-09 11:44
Well, sociopath is more like it. And, yeah, congress is one large collective social pathology.
+63 # newell 2015-11-08 13:48
in the last few days she has been calling for more boots on the ground in syria. i think she had many on the left fooled. she is the oldest senator, 82 and married a neurosurgeon and an investment banker. she is also a big supporter of the nsa.
+68 # Blackjack 2015-11-08 14:27
Feinstein's expiration date is long overdue!

Does anyone have any idea how HRC stacks up on this issue? Especially during her tenure as Senator? Maybe we should start finding out, since she and Feinstein are quite chummy.
+58 # grandlakeguy 2015-11-08 14:47
How does HRC stack up upon this issue? It matters little what she says since she will say ANYTHING that advances her thirst for power. In the end HRC is a hawk having always voted in support of the Bush wars of terror. I do not believe any statement or position that she claims to make.
As a constituent of Sen. Feinstein I agree that she is long overdue to be replaced by someone who actually represents the liberal values of the San Francisco Bay Area!
+19 # wantrealdemocracy 2015-11-08 20:57
I too live in the Bay Area and can no way understand why people keep sending Not So Feinstein back term after term. So too with Nancy Pelosi well know for not allowing Single payer, Medicare for all to even come up for a vote. 74% of the people nation wide wanted it to be made into law. I have no idea how much the pharmaceuticals "donated' to her campaign. We all know those 'donations' are bribes.

I think it is the mistaken idea that the Democrats are better than the Republicans. While that have been true decades ago, it is not longer the case. Since Clinton took the party to what he called the 'center' it was really to the right. Now the two corporately funded parties are playing leap frog each trying to be the farthest right.

No way do these two macho women represent the people of the Bay Area. They need to be put out to retire in their mansions. (they probably have many of them)
0 # Henry 2015-11-09 12:57
"Macho?" Pelosi? Come on ...
+78 # PABLO DIABLO 2015-11-08 15:11
'if you have a knife in my back five inches and you take it out two inches, you haven't solved the problem." --- Malcom X
"We don;t care, we don't have to". --- Lily Tomlin as an ATT operator.
Not really funny. More sad. Why do liberals always accept crumbs and conservatives refuse to compromise? WAKE UP AMERICA. Vote Bernie. He may be our last chance.
+1 # gdsharpe 2015-11-08 15:24
May I assume you meant "... accept crumbs... "?
+55 # walt 2015-11-08 15:13
To understand it all one has to ask the big question: Why has Congress never even conducted a formal investigation into the lies told by the Bush administration to invade Iraq?

That lawless invasion, the authorization of torture, secret prisons, and more are war crimes. Yet folks like Feinstein simply look the other way. In fact, it was Speaker Pelosi who squelched the impeachment motions for Cheney and Bush in 2006.

Failure to uphold the oath of office ought to put the likes of these Congressional wafflers out of office. Or maybe even in jail!
+64 # gdsharpe 2015-11-08 15:28
That's because the Republicans and the Democrats have been bought and paid for by the same people.
Maybe we need a new kind of progressive... perhaps a democratic socialist? One who is not bought and paid for by anyone except the populace? With some true progressives in Congress to back him up?
+8 # dquandle 2015-11-08 18:19
Good old filthy rich, war-mongering "Democrat" Pelosi, who has spent all the time she wasn't pushing for war, attempting to shred Social Security.
+47 # ChrisCurrie 2015-11-08 15:31
Senator Feinstein also voted the "fast track" Obama's dishonestly promoted TPP/TTIP/TiSA (dishonestly labeled) "trade agreements" (they are actually TREATIES which require at least a two-thirds majority US Senate vote in order to be constitutionall y ratified) which would effectively REPLACE our constitutional form of democracy with a what would be essentially a world government run by multinational corporations that "have no god but money" and don't give a damn how many people they impoverish and/or kill in order to "maximize their profits." The MORAL DEPRAVITY of her support for the US prison in Guantanamo pales in comparison to the MORAL DEPRAVITY of her support for Obama's TPP/TTIP/TiSA initiatives.
+19 # dquandle 2015-11-08 18:24
Of course she did, just as she supported every bill enabling the NSA/CIA to spy on everyone, until it came to spying on her, and just as she supported every war the US regime ever wanted to engage in. She is a fascist, just like the majority of the "Democrats" in congress. She's the west coast's Hillary Clinton. Rich, power hungry, and vicious.
+26 # Shorey13 2015-11-08 15:34
Our so-called democracy is in the toilet--no, already flushed down. I'm more certain every day that democracy is just another utopian scheme that is doomed to fail.

Maybe the religious fanatics can pray to their god to send us a benevolent dictator. All of the problems here and around the world are a direct result of inadequate structure and too much "freedom" for the wrong people. For the record, though, we really don't have a problem with "Human Nature," but we do have a horrific problem with the nature of some humans. Any suggestions?

BTW, as a long-time resident of San Francisco, I can only agree that Dianne is long past her "use date." But, then, she has always been a classic DINO, one of the semi-moderate Republicans (including both Clintons and Obama) who were summarily dismissed from the Republican Party after Reagan was elected and proceeded to hijack the Democratic Party.
+20 # Bruce Gruber 2015-11-08 16:04
Our principles were worth fighting the greatest power (England) at the time. The concept was the most enlightened assimilation of compromise in the interest of egalitarian humanism at the time.

Despite the intrusion, time and again, of oligarchy and plutocratic wresting of the wealth and the power it attends, this American experiment in representative democracy remains WORTH fighting for.

If that means armed confrontation with the programmed militarized 'defenders' of our (alleged) liberty whose REAL job is to protect the accumulated "capital" of the 1%, then so be it. When they realize that we are all 'supposed' to be 'equal' before the law (including THEM as conscripts) perhaps admonitions by Jefferson will take substance. Kent State was a despicable example of the righteousness of protection of the status quo. It is not unlikely that we may experience a similar, but much greater, expansion of that unAmercan policy.

We don't have to ... but wealth buys immorality along with self-justificat ion. It is not a product. Accumulation and greed can easily poison the heart and mind.

A much better solution is to elect Bernie and many like him. Start the revolution of goals and purpose that America WANTS to be.
+27 # cecilepineda 2015-11-08 15:39
Feinstein acts from the prison of her own mind; the prison of her (and dick blum's) financial interests, and from the prison of her sforza castle-like redoubt at the top of San Francisco's Pacific Heights.
+20 # chuckvw 2015-11-08 15:48
Such are these monsters that we ritually anoint every 2-6 years...
+22 # Rockster 2015-11-08 15:49
Jared Diamond's book, Collapse, published a few years ago carefully details many actual civilizations which effectively selfdestructed . I suspect it was just too true and close to the bone to become popular. The most concise description of the processes this; young cultures respect group values above selfishness, they work with " what actually Is" as opposed to magic or propaganda based reaction. As the culture ages the money manipulators and greed masters take over and suck the life out of the procucing people. Then any virus type problem kills the culture. Sound familiar?
+28 # bardphile 2015-11-08 16:01
Though it may be too late for a human rights "legacy," President Obama could do his country a great service by releasing and repatriating the remaining detainees, dismantling the prison and the entire base--and returning Guantanamo to Cuba. What military need can there possibly be for a naval base 90 miles away from the tip of Florida? (If someone has an answer, I'd like to hear it.) The continued existence of the prison and the detainees there kills more Americans indirectly than any of the prisoners ever could if we let them all go. The reason they're still there after 13 years has little to do with national security and everything to do with the politics of fear.

Come on, Mr. President. Show us a flash of leadership and principle before your presidency ends in a whimper.
+18 # jwb110 2015-11-08 16:22
The real danger of Gitmo that is never ever mentioned is the possibility that American Citizens could be made to disappear to that installation never to be heard from again. The real danger to democracy with Gitmo is its misuse on an dissenters who jus happen to be Americans.
The Day the Planes hit the Trade Center bin Laden had won because the first thing that the Bush Administration did was to reduce the Constitutional rights and privileges of all Americans in the name of "Security". As a nation we need to re-secure those rights and make sure that places like Gitmo that could eventually be housing innocent Americans are closed down.
A first step in that process might be getting rid of Senator Feinstein.
+11 # Desiderata 2015-11-08 16:40
Guantanamo will be returned to Cuba sooner rather than later but not for altruistic reasons. Corporate American resort hotel chains are just one group impatiently pawing the ground waiting for the in door to swing open there. This will be the new tropical resort destination for American tourists . Canadians & Europeans have been enjoying Cuban beaches & hospitality for decades but the American market promises to be huge. Follow the money. Guantanamo will become a tourist attraction like Alcatraz & Auschwitz.
+13 # Nigeldp 2015-11-08 17:14
HOME OF THE BRAVE is the way US describes itself, but with the whole deplorable continuation of the distinctly COWARDLY action of grabbing suspects and detaining them for years out of FEAR that the MIGHT BE dangerous is the ultimate of NON BRAVE. FEAR has ruled too long in America "the brave' .
+16 # Nigeldp 2015-11-08 17:25
Strike BRAVE off the description. Today we are NOT BRAVE we are COWARDS that hunt and kill with stealth and Drones and accept the collateral loss of lives. We accept the murder of supposed terrorists; no trial, no jury. Now our Police too often bring the same instant 'justice' onto our streets. FEAR rules and because of FEAR and lack of bravery innocents like Sara Bland die. FEAR is a POISON that needs to be contained.
+4 # corals33 2015-11-08 19:29
Why democracies have such vital need for "secrecy" is beyond me especially when all the other "secret services" are all products of those very same "democracies".W hy do we have to have spies and "investigative journalists" and "freedom of information acts" should tell any fool that somebody is taking the proverbial "P" and that's no secret.
0 # ahollman 2015-11-08 20:52
Methinks William Boardman doth protest too much. I'm not a big Feinstein fan, but Feinstein is a pragmatist, lacking Boardman's moral outrage. Sometimes, though we hate to admit it, pragmatism is more effective than moral outrage.

Feinstein is fine with detaining people long-term, provided there's good reason for doing so (there isn't), but wants them detained either in the US or abroad, not at Gitmno, somewhere cheaper. She wants people tried, released if no charges will stick, or, for a few, held indefinitely, but in the US.

Feinstein's biggest objections are twofold: 1) Gitmo is outrageously expensive, and 2) federal courts have done a far faster and better job of trying and convicting individuals than have military commissions. Both objections are pragmatic; they ignore the inherent injustice of shipping people there in the first place and denying them (for years) their day in court.

Nevertheless, Feinstein's objections may be more effective objections than moral outrage. In 1905, when Upton Sinclair wrote "The Jungle", about immigrants working in Chicago's meatpacking plants, he wanted to create outrage about their treatment. Instead, Americans didn't give a damn about immigrants, but were revolted by how their food was processed, and created the FDA. As Lewis put it, "I want to hit America in the conscience; instead I hit it in its stomach."

I can imagine Americans being far more concerned about Gitmo's cost than its lack of human rights.
+2 # Kootenay Coyote 2015-11-09 09:45
Pragmatism is atomistic, dealing with problems as if they are in isolation. It has no grasp of Systems. Obama is weakened by this method.
+1 # WBoardman 2015-11-10 12:52
"Methinks William Boardman doth protest too much,"
says ahollman, misusing the line from Hamlet,
which is uttered by Gertrude when confronted with her crime.

All the same, ahollman does encapsulate one of the huge
cultural issues of contemporary America,
the casual moral numbness that finds more than a decade
of Feinstein's futile "pragmatism" somehow preferable
to objecting to crimes against humanity. Well done.

Too soon to know if Feinstein's op-ed has a shred of
sincerity or is just another cya effort to appear reasonable
while acting as an accomplice. My hunch is the latter.

ahollman is sadly, tragically right, it seems, when saying:
"I can imagine Americans being far more concerned about Gitmo's cost than its lack of human rights."

Yes, that's what outrages me.

The mystery is why it seems to outrage so few others.
+2 # andyseles 2015-11-08 21:27
Please view Sheldon Wolin on "Inverted Totalitarianism " and you will understand the scope of the challenge:
+4 # lewagner 2015-11-08 21:59
Bernie will push all-out for thorough investigations, AND prosecutions of those found responsible. :)
+7 # RMDC 2015-11-09 08:01
Guantanamo is only the tip of the iceberg. The CIA runs many of these camps all over the world. A few years ago the estimate was about 100. No one knows what the estimate is now, since no one is asking the question of the CIA.

Guantanamo has always been among the smallest, but it does have the most sophisticated set up for behavioral and thought control experimentation . The CIA grew up on experimentation on humans in order to turn them into "manchurian candidates." That's the principal purpose for these camps. The CIA creates suicide bombers and people like the leader of ISIS, who was in such a camp in Iraq for 2 or 3 years while he was being brainwashed.

Brainwashing is very sophisticated now but it is still inefficient. Not everyone can be changed into a human drone. Many simply suffer permanent brain damage. Some of these are killed, others languish in prison cells forever.

Guantanamo will never be closed because it is vital for the CIA. It is the heart of what the CIA does.
+2 # elkingo 2015-11-09 12:45
Right folks, the govt.- at any level - is effectively sociopathic. Toward the souls it (overtly) gobbles, it is a giant institutional "Kafka".
Imprisoned while innocent and never released.
Which show why one should never fall into their hands: even if exonerated, they simply don't let you go. They need prisoners to maintain the system, perhaps to maintain some kind of insane credibility to themselves. Innocence is not a criterion. This obtains throughout the penal system, not just Gitmo.
+3 # angelfish 2015-11-09 19:33
shame, Shame, SHAME. Feinstein should hang her head in shame. We USED to defend innocent people, NOW? We prosecute them under the guise of "Homeland Security". Smacks of Nazi Germany, if you ask me. It is politicians like Feinstein who give us ALL a Black Eye!

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