Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 18, 2005

Judy the Source

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

There is a bit of discussion about Judith Miller's security clearance. In her Sunday piece she writes:

During the Iraq war, the Pentagon had given me clearance to see secret information as part of my assignment "embedded" with a special military unit hunting for unconventional weapons.

We know her article has been checked by her lawyer before it went public. It is not just like her notebook seems to indicate that she had a clearance, she had one.

The Pentagon issued a non-denial denial:

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said he was unaware of Miller having a security clearance. He said security clearances are covered by privacy laws, so he couldn't talk about it.

Other reporters with embedded stints in Iraq did not need Secret clearances. They signed some confidential clauses and agreed to time-limited military censorship.

Secret clearances do not fall from the sky and they can not be ordered from above. Dozens of pages of forms have to be filled out by dedicated buerocrats, facts get checked and double-checked. As of May 2004 the U.S. had a total backlog of some 360,000 clearance requests. Companies did buy other companies just to get personal with clearances.

If Miller had a Secret clearance as I believe she had, someone high up must have pushed for it to be done in record time. Why would someone do this?

Reader Pat has this:

I believe she was brought in - or put in - as a source and as a conduit.

Let me explain why I think Pat is right, why Miller was a "source".

Before the war Iraqi exiles were motivated and induced to find information about WMDs. Some things were found, some things recycled and some things were made up. Chalabi and his gang came up with something.

They pushed something through various channels. Something reached Judy and she published it in the prestigious NYT. At the same time something went to the British MI-6 which shared it with the CIA. The CIA checked the British something and found a soft single sourced confirmation in the NYT. Rewritten and with some professional caveats something was reported to Douglas Feith's OSD and to Cheney's whigs where it was rewritten again and amplified.

Various "former hill staffers" leaked the modified something to one Judith Miller who wrote another Page 1 piece to explain that a high positioned second source had confirmed her original report about something. The Iraqi exiles picked up on this report and restarted the circle with a modified something or something else.

Whispering campaigns - not one, multiple of these - each launched in multiple places and traveling multiple paths. Each with different bits of information and each, at one point or another, confirmed and reconfirmed on the front page of the "paper of the record".

This was self fulfilling prophecy, group-think and a positive feedback cycle that always led to confirmed information. After a while, all involved in this process did believe to some degree that Iraq had WMDs.

But now it was March/April 2003. The war was over. Rumsfeld had promised WMDs North, South, East and West. He had to show something, but the reports from the ground were negative. More and more questions were raised, but the troops, these idiots, could not find some thing or another.

Rumsfeld, near panic, decided to send THE expert. Someone who had written a Pulitzer prized book, GERMS, about bioweapons. Someone who had published myriads of detailed, confirmed and double-sourced articles on WMD in Iraq in the world's leading newspaper paper. Someone who knew these weapons and where they could be found. Miller was asked to help.

Judith, her publisher and/or her editor made a deal with the DoD. In order for her to help the military as a source and as an expert, they would get the exclusive on anything that would be found. A lot of Pulitzers would be made, a lot of copies would sell and the stock quotes would roar.

But for Judy to be able to help, to apply her knowledge, she would need detailed information throughout the mission. She would not be embedded, but "embedded" as a coverup for her expert mission. On Rumsfeld's order a Secret clearance was rushed through. The NYT management agreed to very restricted reporting rules. Judy went to Iraq and applied her knowledge.

On the ground she wear military clothes. She was not only "embedded", she was part of MET Alpha and its mission and she would never give up. When the troops were sure something could not be found, Judy objected their withdrawal. She knew something was there.

A few weeks later Wilson published his j' accuse. Miller, like the other WMD believers, did respond and plamegate unfolded.

It was personal. The "attack" by Wilson was an attack on their already endangered believe system. They had to fight back. They were just stupid.

Unfortunately stupidity kills.

Posted by b on October 18, 2005 at 22:35 UTC | Permalink


Someone has lost his believe:
Cheney aide cooperating with CIA outing probe, sources say

A senior aide to Vice President Dick Cheney is cooperating with special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson, sources close to the investigation say.

Individuals familiar with Fitzgerald’s case tell RAW STORY that John Hannah, a senior national security aide on loan to Vice President Dick Cheney from the offices of then-Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, John Bolton, was named as a target of Fitzgerald’s probe. They say he was told in recent weeks that he could face imminent indictment for his role in leaking Plame-Wilson’s name to reporters unless he cooperated with the investigation.

Others close to the probe say that if Hannah is cooperating with the special prosecutor then he was likely going to be charged as a co-conspirator and may have cut a deal.

Fitzgerald will probably announce indictments tomorrow to keep some control. Then he may announce nothing and just close the shop.

Posted by: b | Oct 18 2005 23:01 utc | 1

More Raw Story on topic of my post: Times reporter entangled in leak case had unusual relationship with military, Iraqi group

“More than a half-dozen military officers said that Miller acted as a middleman between the Army unit with which she was embedded and Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi, on one occasion accompanying Army officers to Chalabi's headquarters, where they took custody of Saddam Hussein's son-in-law,” the Post reported. “She also sat in on the initial debriefing of the son-in-law, these sources say.”

Miller’s intimate role with the MET Alpha nearly endangered the mission, according to several soldiers.

Posted by: b | Oct 18 2005 23:07 utc | 2

Things heating up?

No Quarter: A New Tidbit on the Plame Affair

Had lunch today with a person who has a direct tie to one of the folks facing indictment in the Plame affair. There are 22 files that Fitzgerald is looking at for potential indictment . These include Stephen Hadley, Karl Rove, Lewis Libby, Dick Cheney, and Mary Matalin (there are others of course). Hadley has told friends he expects to be indicted. No wonder folks are nervous at the White House.
Uh oh - and this is only the first round. Who will serve the bretzel when Bush is sitting there alone?

Posted by: b | Oct 18 2005 23:17 utc | 3

thanks b, nice roundup

Posted by: annie | Oct 19 2005 0:35 utc | 4

"Unfortunately stupidity kills."

Yeah. Unfortunately it does.

Posted by: Pat | Oct 19 2005 1:28 utc | 5

And that was an apt use of "something."

Posted by: Pat | Oct 19 2005 1:44 utc | 6


I dug out my old fencing notes last night, to remember
when our coach first taught us all the basics of attack,
lunge, parry, beat, press and coupé.

And I remember that smug look on my face as I deftly
wove my foil around my sparring opponent's, striking
in any of the 22 ways our coach had just taught to us,
rather like the look on Dan Rather's face as he beheld
that Rove'd-up Air National Guard record of GW Bush's.

And finally, I recall that look of triomphe prématuré on
my face, after our coach asked me to be his spar, and
I deftly wove my foil up and handovered it around his,
dropping into a swift attack and lunge.

One problem, perhaps ... his foil tip was already firmly
embedded in my tunic, centered over my heart. Touché!

You can suck on all the sky-blue Fitzpop's you want,
you ain't gonna find no Rove-Cheney chew toy in no
Cracker Jack box, you crackers. Libby, if you're lucky.

Government is all about plausible deniability, unless
you have a black evening dress with spuz stains on it,
and don't have the sack to smoke it at some stop light.
Layers upon layers upon layers, like an onion of gold.

Then I invite you to imagine the next three years, after
an England-pawn is put away, when King George is free
again to roam the global boards, war crimes forgotten,
torture and beatings dismissed, and WMD's? Well, that
was that Trotskyite Wilson and his wife's subterfuge.

Bolton - in. Negroponte - in. Gonzales - in. Roberts - in.
Leventhal, Wolfowitz, Fleischer, Kristol - rabid Zionists
free to roam the halls of American power, planning war.
The low-hanging fruit spanked and chastized, while the
secret cabals drink up at the fire hose of Fed war deficit.

Only this time, everyone will know the Rove back-story,
and everyone will know they're powerless to prevent it,
and it's still three years until Condi runs for President,
in a nation by then so subdued, she'll run unopposed.

Reads like Kristall Nacht, all over again, doesn't it?
Only this time, we're the Juden, every poor sot of US.

Posted by: tante aime | Oct 19 2005 2:39 utc | 7

@tante aime

better to practice a little more... than give up so easily, don't you think?

Posted by: crone | Oct 19 2005 3:05 utc | 8

"If Miller had a Secret clearance as I believe she had, someone high up must have pushed for it to be done in record time."

How could she be granted a clearance? Have you discovered that? I haven't. I know of NO way she could have come by one.

Posted by: Pat | Oct 19 2005 3:30 utc | 9

No legal way she could have come by one.

Posted by: Pat | Oct 19 2005 3:46 utc | 10

Ha! tante, No Shibumi. Just as Trevanian wrote, "Go is to Western chess what philosophy is to double entry accounting." BlackKnight takes queen. No stone.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 19 2005 3:48 utc | 11

It's not a taunt, Billmon.

Posted by: Pat | Oct 19 2005 4:11 utc | 12

Regarding Miller's security clearance - NO WAY unless she was granted one without a background investigation, which would be unheard of. If a BI was run (and I used to run them) even for a Secret clearance, her co-workers would've HAD to have been interviewed, and there's no way that wouldn't have come out by now. She'd have had to have been granted one without an investigation - which would be another scandal to throw onto the pile. Very doubtful - but in Rummy's Pentagon, who knows....?

Posted by: McGee | Oct 19 2005 4:29 utc | 13

Miller's lawyer - Bennett, I think - was on Charley Rose tonight and said Miller will definitely NOT be indicted. Rose, for the elite audience, playing this up, NPR, for the hoi polloi, playing it down.

Posted by: Malooga | Oct 19 2005 4:50 utc | 14

More Raw Story on topic of my post: Times reporter entangled in leak case had unusual relationship with military, Iraqi group,

As soon as I saw this topic I vaguely remembered reading somewhere about Miller's intimate connection with a military unit in Iraq. Turns out the Raw Story article contains a link to the story - Click here - from June 2003 WaPo, which suggests Miller enjoyed a very priviledged degree of access, no doubt because of her unstinting service in promoting the neocon agenda in the pages of the Times.

Juan Cole also recently dicussed Miller's role in hyping the Iraq threat in an insightful article in Slate - Click here

Posted by: Lexington | Oct 19 2005 5:12 utc | 15

Epee? Or Saber?

You don't learn to fence like this
as Provost of Stanford University: [Yellow Cake Memo]

MR. RUSSERT: "No one in our circles knew."
That has proven to be wrong.


[en guard] No, Tim, that has not proven to be wrong.

[retreat] No one did know that they were forgeries.

[parry] The notion of the forgeries came in February or in March when this was—when this came to the CIA. It is true that we learned, subsequent to my comments to you, that Director Tenet did not want to stand by that statement.

[advance] And I would never want to see anything in a presidential statement—speech—that the director of Central Intelligence did not want to have there.

[attack] And I’m the national security adviser.

[lunge] When something like this happens, I feel personally responsible for it happening because it obscured the fact that the president of the United States did not go to war over whether Saddam Hussein tried to acquire yellow cake in Africa. He went to war over a threat from a bloody tyrant in the most volatile region of the world who had used weapons of mass destruction before, and was continuing to try to acquire them.

[point, Dr. Rice]

It's not about the pol's out in the open and in the limelight, it's about their handlers behind the scenes, the ones who want to stay invisible, the Cabals, the Chalabi's, the Carlyle Groups,
the Bush's, the Baker's, the hockeystick makers.

If Fitzgerald even so much as taps on that dark
glass window, I'd hate to be in his shoes. He'll
go for what he can get: a low-level scapegoat,
a book deal, and retirement with a nice pension.

Then in three years, Bush will blanket clemency,
after Cheney steps down for health reasons, and
Rice steps up to the plate to run for President.
Again, it's not about her, it's her PAC handlers.

Posted by: tante aime | Oct 19 2005 5:28 utc | 16

I distinctly remember on the news hour, an audio report from Iraq by Judy Miller. It was when they discovered those trailers, and I remember her saying "this could be the smoking gun". This would be the time frame when she supposedly had the clearance. If, as some have suggested, she was granted a clearance in order to utilize her expertice in WMD, now wearing a uniform, etc. how could she continue also with reporting (as she now is working FOR the government).

Posted by: anna missed | Oct 19 2005 5:53 utc | 17

I'm very happy to see that "congealing conventional wisdom"
(I wonder if you can bottle that stuff) now takes it for granted that Miller and the Times connection were an integral part of the Whig-ish groundwork for "fixing the intelligence around" the pre-ordained policy of war against Iraq. That proposition, once articulated, becomes almost self-evident, and even the radical empiricists will have no difficulty in verifying it on the basis of mountains of probatory evidence. This will continue to be the case independently of Fitzgerald's indictments or lack thereof.

That the Times must be read cum grano salis when matters touching the state of Israel are at issue is a well-worn commonplace that seldom gave pause to its sophisticated readers or diminished its value as the newspaper of record. Indeed, in such cases as Bill Safire the close friendship with Israeli movers-and-shakers has been openly vaunted, and this rendered the task of compensating for the paper's pro-Israeli bias relatively easy.

The Miller case and, more generally, the paper's recent role as little more than an instrument of propaganda at the service of shadowy intelligence agencies raise more disturbing issues, and, I would say, more interesting ones from a strictly psychological or moral perspective. It is one thing to believe that the NYTimes editorial staff and publishers were so congenitally credulous of the Israeli approved line on Middle Eastern affairs that they were easy marks for a cynical campaign of disinformation, but quite another to believe that key elements of that editorial leadership were witting participants in that project. Charity would move one to accept the former hypothesis, but growing evidence of the type noted by, say, Josh Marshall, seems to support the latter, sadder alternative:

But in this case it certainly seems as though the tacit bargain between Miller and Libby was that Libby would provide Miller with information in exchange for her assistance in deceiving her readers.

The long public history of the Times' intimate but strained relations with U.S. intelligence agencies is well documented (reticence before the Bay of Pigs, the Pentagon Papers, etc.) but we know little of the parallel private history of the exchanges between these interfacing institutions, and still less about input and vetoes posed by the unmentionable state's even more unmentionable intelligence services. We do, however, have some rather weighty circumstantial evidence: 150,000 or more U.S. troops engaged, not surely by pure chance, in an unpopular war in Iraq.

The motivations which carried Ms. Miller and her bosses forward along their headlong trajectory toward "someone's" desired goal are worthy of a novel. Was it "blind ambition" and lust for personal and institutional affirmation at the service of unknown manipulators, or were the participants indeed "Bush's willing executioners", actively engaging in deliberate deception at the service of a "higher" goal. In either case, it is striking that the analogy between this pattern of conduct and that imputed to American communists during the McCarthy era has been so little noted. Americans apparently believe that only leftists are capable of treason.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Oct 19 2005 6:23 utc | 18

@Pat How could she be granted a clearance? Have you discovered that? I haven't. I know of NO way she could have come by one.

Parttime consultant contract with DoD?!

Posted by: b | Oct 19 2005 7:06 utc | 19

I guess as an outsider looking in one of the saddest things is seeing the shock with which people look at the relationship between the NYT and the intelligence establishment and the NYT and the executive.

I'm sure it wasn't always that way. Thirty years ago I'm sure that Amerikan left had the same attitude to the establishment media as the left anywhere else has. That is the media generally support the status quo, unless there is a compelling reason for swinging behind a right wing initiative.

Lets look at it slightly mathematically.

Government Executive = Power

Intelligence Agencies= Power

Established Media = Power

All three organisations can do so much for each other that it is inevitable that over a period of time they would reach an accomodation.

There's nothing new in this Randolph Hearst wasn't a flaming leftie you know.

It's interesting though because when mass media first get established and they haven't reached the accomodation with the establishment they can query the power.

TV did. It was television that turned attitudes around on Vietnam. The print media followed because they didn't have much choice. Initially there was dissonence between what the young TV war correspondents were doing and saying and what the established newspaper correspondents got up to.

Print media were being squeezed by their old allies on one hand and their fear of losing their pre eminence (ie profits) on the other. They went with the profits eventually of course. But since Vietnam the TV industry is no longer the young thing on the block. It has been corporatised and now stands even further to the right than newspapers.

A position that reflects its much larger revenue base.

I remember when I first lived in Britain being horrified to discover that when someone is appointed editor of a major Fleet St paper one of the first invitations they get is to lunch with the Prime Minister.

Listen to those blokes talk too. With few exceptions English newspaper editors have what is called an Oxbridge accent. Even the trashy tabloids. They are part of the gang.

In NZ it used to be illegal for any newspaper to be foreign owned. This was under a pro business Tory government. Why? Because the government was worried that a rich foreigner may not have the same worries about various issues as a rich NZer.

The law was changed at some stage towards the end of the 80's and for a while there the papers became 'unreliable'. But as Rupert Murdoch has so graphically demonstrated if you're not using your position to generate a bit of 'contra' you're not maximising your revenue base.

Broadsheet dailies still generate a huge proportion of their revenue from classified advertising and altho the net is changing that, the government is one of the major customers. So once foreign owners have had a bit of a 'reality check', they fall into line.

The NZ MSM pushed very hard to get a Tory government in this year's election. I hadn't seen that sort of activity in NZ for nearly 20 years. They came within a whisker of pulling it off too.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Oct 19 2005 9:55 utc | 20

New York Times editor talks of dangers of restricting the press

"Journalism, revealing the truth, serving the public: What better mission could there be?"

Posted by: Irony | Oct 19 2005 10:30 utc | 21

More speculation(?) from Justin Raimondo on the Niger papers

Even as the FBI was following the trail of the forgers, the Italians were looking into the matter from their end. A parliamentary committee was charged with investigating, and they issued a heavily redacted report: now, I am told by a former CIA operations officer, the report has aroused some interest on this side of the Atlantic. According to a source in the Italian embassy, Patrick J. "Bulldog" Fitzgerald asked for and "has finally been given a full copy of the Italian parliamentary oversight report on the forged Niger uranium document," the former CIA officer tells me:

"Previous versions of the report were redacted and had all the names removed, though it was possible to guess who was involved. This version names Michael Ledeen as the conduit for the report and indicates that former CIA officers Duane Clarridge and Alan Wolf were the principal forgers. All three had business interests with Chalabi."
my source tells me that "Fitzgerald asked the Italians if he could share the report with Paul McNulty," the prosecutor in the AIPAC case. There are plenty of links between the two investigations: they are, in a sense, the same investigation, since many of the same people are involved. McNulty is delving into a single aspect of the cabal's activities, while Fitzgerald seems to have broadened his probe to include not only the outing of Plame, but also the origin of the Niger uranium forgeries and other instances of classified information leakage via the vice president's office.

A good piece,lots of links and the pieces do come together.

Posted by: b | Oct 19 2005 11:59 utc | 22

It seems to me that it is in more than human folklore that the bad guys get caught or meet their doomed destiny in some way. It's based in reality. It's part of the arrangement. Criminals and justice go together fist in glove. You can count on a crime spree coming to a bad end.
In all these crime syndicates, people are double crossed and framed constantly. The downfall eventually comes from within. And these types are addicted to thrills and the game of evading capture, so they taunt justice more and more, taking bigger chances, and finally get caught in their own webs.

Yes, this is a continuation of the Iran Contra game, and it makes sense to bring to a close now. Even if the indictments aren't all people hope for, other revelations will come, I'm sure. It will take time but it seems like this particular game is seeking conclusion. Subconsciously, the perpetrators probably want it to end as much as others. They can't keep it up anymore. And many are old and not well. The wheelchairs will be arriving soon and the game is getting hackneyed.

Unfortunately, there are always new evil spores waiting for their time. So it is much more than seeing the ass end of these fat pasty diseased creeps. One must be on guard.

The elite handlers behind all of this are also subject to the same paranoias and wars within. They have everything to lose.

When we realize how small and impotent they really are, we will make progress. They are pawns in our game too.
Now if we could just get at the reason societies keep elevating these damaged creatures, we would be singing.

Posted by: jm | Oct 19 2005 13:37 utc | 23

The main question in Presidential scandals is of course:

"What did he know and when did he know it?"

Here is part of an answer
Bush whacked Rove on CIA leak

An angry President Bush rebuked chief political guru Karl Rove two years ago for his role in the Valerie Plame affair, sources told the Daily News.

"He made his displeasure known to Karl," a presidential counselor told The News. "He made his life miserable about this."
Asked if he believed indictments were forthcoming, a key Bush official said he did not know, then added: "I'm very concerned it could go very, very badly."

"Karl is fighting for his life," the official added, "but anything he did was done to help George W. Bush. The President knows that and appreciates that."
A second well-placed source said some recently published reports implying Rove had deceived Bush about his involvement in the Wilson counterattack were incorrect and were leaked by White House aides trying to protect the President.

This could all be part of a defense startegy.

Posted by: b | Oct 19 2005 14:48 utc | 24

Unless we start remembering our history and begin to learn from it we and our victims are doomed to an endless cycle of tragedy and repetition ...

Democracy: \De*moc"ra*cy\, n 1. Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives. 2. My ass.

"The Iran/contra investigation will not end the kind of abuse of power that it addressed any more than the Watergate investigation did. The criminality in both affairs did not arise primarily out of ordinary venality or greed, although some of those charged were driven by both. Instead, the crimes committed in Iran/contra were motivated by the desire of persons in high office to pursue controversial policies and goals even when the pursuit of those policies and goals was inhibited or restricted by executive orders, statutes or the constitutional system of checks and balances."

--Final Report of the Independent Counsel on Iran/Contra

Posted by: Outraged | Oct 19 2005 15:11 utc | 25

bingo on justin's piece. it's a circle game.

Posted by: annie | Oct 19 2005 15:22 utc | 26

Implying that until we change the structure of government, these subversions will continue to happen. They know that and bank on it. The power of the executive must be severely curbed, including the number of political over career appointments, and money must be gotten away completely from all elections to straighted out the legislative branch in order to have anything approaching a democracy.

Posted by: Malooga | Oct 19 2005 15:40 utc | 27


It's a lot like mafia money laundering ... only with a little effort and co-operative allied intelligence agencies ... Abra-cadabra ! facile propaganda and lies can be manipulated and 'churned' into at least partially corroborated/credible agenda driven 'intelligence' ...

Posted by: Outraged | Oct 19 2005 15:45 utc | 28

In Hebrew, the characters for [p] and [f] are close. Arabic lacks a [p], but typically renders it as [b]: Falerii Blaim.

Posted by: llooellen | Oct 19 2005 19:03 utc | 29

Needlenose links to
recent article from the Columbia Journalism
review, and quite rightly emphasizes this little stick
of dynamite:

In July of 2001, Steve Engelberg, then an editor at the New York Times, looked up to see Judy Miller standing at his desk. As Engelberg recalls, Miller had just learned from a source about an intercepted communication between two Al Qaeda members who were discussing how disappointed they were that the United States had never attempted to retaliate for the bombing of the USS Cole. Not to worry, one of them said, soon they were going to do something so big that the U.S. would have to retaliate.

Miller was naturally excited about the scoop and wanted the Times to go with the story. Engelberg, himself a veteran intelligence reporter, wasn’t so sure. There had been a lot of chatter about potential attacks; how did they know this was anything other than big talk? Who were these guys? What country were they in? How had we gotten the intercept? Miller didn’t have any answers and Engelberg didn’t think they could publish without more context. Miller agreed to try and find out more, but in the end the story never ran.

I need not articulate the tantalizing lines of speculation this opens.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Oct 20 2005 8:27 utc | 30

No way of ever knowing what that source was.

Given who some of her sources might be, I can see why she might want to make a huge production about protecting them.

Is that old news?

Posted by: eftsoons | Oct 20 2005 10:11 utc | 31

@ eftsoons
The detailed story of that incident was new to me:
the "old news" about NYTimes footsie playing with
intelligence agencies would bear further airing, IMHO.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Oct 20 2005 10:17 utc | 32

WRT Debs">">Debs is dead post

It's interesting though because when mass media first get established and they haven't reached the accomodation with the establishment they can query the power.

TV did. It was television that turned attitudes around on Vietnam. The print media followed because they didn't have much choice. Initially there was dissonence between what the young TV war correspondents were doing and saying and what the established newspaper correspondents got up to.

bit of trivia ---

Somewhere in Lords of the Press (1938) George Seldes comments that it was the new medium/communications technology, radio, that enabled FDR to win the election when the MSM press lords were solidly and rabidly opposed.

and so it goes.

Posted by: eftsoons | Oct 20 2005 10:33 utc | 33

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