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Dear President Obama;

I wanted to take the occasion of Presidents Day to write to you. Today is the day we celebrate the birthdays of two of our all time great presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

It is fitting that we celebrate the first of our presidents and the president who held the Union together and ended the pernicious practice of human slavery. These men stand as examples of what America can be and should be.

"Originally posted at Squarestate.net"

It is with regret that I can not add your name to the list of great presidents. There is no doubt your election and presidency are historic, but where Washington and Lincoln are both famous for standing for the rule of law and the Constitution, your administration seems to sadly lacking in that regard.

Mr. President, there is an issue that you have consciously ignored, the issue of the Bush Administration’s torture program. As someone involved in politics and activism I completely grasp the level of acrimony you would experience from the Republicans and the conservatives of this nation if you fully investigate the ordering and carrying out of torture.

There is no doubt your political opponents would seize on this and call it a political witch-hunt. They would use it against every Democrat in the nation this fall, as well as using it as an excuse to oppose your agenda for the rest of your term.

Yet, Mr. President, this should not matter to you. You took the same oath as Washington and Lincoln to defend and protect the Constitution of the Untied States from all enemies foreign and domestic.

The Constitution can not be protected by allowing members of a previous administration to order and carry out war crimes (which torture clearly is both under the Geneva Conventions and the International Conventions Against Torture) and then brag about them with impunity.

On ABC’s "This Week" former Vice President Cheney admitted to not only being part of the decision making in ordering torture but said:

KARL: ... waterboarding, clearly, what was your...
CHENEY: I was a big supporter of waterboarding. I was a big supporter of the enhanced interrogation techniques that...

Mr. President allowing Mr. Cheney to claim to be a "big supporter" of a Federal and war crime without consequence undermines the rule of law and the Constitution. Those who think that anything is legal in the name of national security will be able to point to this example for generations if you do not act.

I know that you want to restore the Untied States place in the opinion of the world. This is important for the good we can do, but also for the practical matter that it makes us safer. Still, merely ordering an end to torture is not even close to enough. We must take the lead in investigating and where crimes were committed prosecuting those who ordered and carried out war crimes.

To fail to do so not only puts our country in the grave jeopardy of using torture again under a less principled administration, it leaves a large black mark on the United States ability to call for the adherence to international law and norms.

Investigating the previous administration is a hard thing to ask of any president. It has never had to be done before. Still, there had never been a United States to govern before President Washington did it. There was never a civil war that had to be fought nor the nation re-united before President Lincoln did it.

This one of the challenges you face, President Obama, yet it is the hardest challenges that determine if a president is great, merely adequate or a failure. Please, sir, I ask you as a citizen, reach for that greatness. Do not let political concerns lead you to a place where you give up the example the United States can be.

Order Attorney General Holder to appoint a Special Prosecutor who will investigate the actions of the Department of Justice, the Executive Branch, the Department of Defense and the CIA in regards to the justifying, ordering and carrying out of torture. Let those who believe they have a legal justification argue it in court, and let the verdicts of those courts stand. This is the best way you can defend and protect the Constitution.

Regards,

Originally posted to Something the Dog Said on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 06:48 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips? Flames? (29+ / 0-)

    Hope that we will not have to wait for a new president to investigate war crimes committed and bragged about by the criminal Bush administration?

    Getting Democrats together and keeping them that way is like herding cats that are high on meth, through L.A., during an earthquake, in the rain -6.25, -6.10

    by Something the Dog Said on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 06:43:35 AM PST

  •  Recced, of course. Torturers should be jailed. (6+ / 0-)

    War Criminals, hanged.

    Nit:  "precious practice of human slavery" ... "precious"?

    If George Bush or Dick Cheney or Don Rumsfeld are guilty of the war crimes of Aggressive War or Torture, they should be hanged.

    by Yellow Canary on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 07:00:00 AM PST

  •  You must have missed the memo (4+ / 0-)

    Now is a time for reflection not retribution.  Cheney is an important voice in the national debate.

    "Just today, Senator McCain offered up the oldest Washington stunt in the book - you pass the buck to a commission to study the problem." Sen. Barack Obama

    by justmy2 on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 07:04:59 AM PST

    •  He is, he is the voice of the war (5+ / 0-)

      criminal segment of the population. Sadly he is not in the traditional place for war criminals, prison. We should help him move there will all due dispatch.

      Getting Democrats together and keeping them that way is like herding cats that are high on meth, through L.A., during an earthquake, in the rain -6.25, -6.10

      by Something the Dog Said on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 07:07:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Prison is just the traditional place for war (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Vtdblue

        criminals who are unlucky enough to lose. And lose badly, ala Japan or Germany in WW2.

        More typically, in win or draw situations, war criminals make out just fine . . .

      •  Nearly vomited when, around the time of the (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Something the Dog Said, Vtdblue

        Edwards-Cheney debate, Matalin called Cheney (who was her boss, after all) "a substance sponge." More like a carnage firehose.

        •  I want to puke whenever I hear about him (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Xapulin, carpunder, Vtdblue

          or see him. He is a great example of just how bad humans can be.

          I almost wish I believed in an afterlife so I could imagine him burning in hell forever.

          Getting Democrats together and keeping them that way is like herding cats that are high on meth, through L.A., during an earthquake, in the rain -6.25, -6.10

          by Something the Dog Said on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 07:28:37 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I imagine it without the afterlife belief. Only (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Something the Dog Said, Vtdblue

            because it's about as much justice as I expect will be served.

          •  But the WH is an enabler by failing to uphold (6+ / 0-)

            the rule of law.  Cheney is what Cheney is, but Obama and Holder are certainly active participants in justifying such atrocities.  You are quite right to call them to task for this, and I get as queasy thinking about what a terrible precedent it is that Democrats are condoning this as I do when I see The Dark Lord shooting his effing mouth off about it.

            The next Republican administration will return to these barbaric, Jack Baueresque practices and worse.  We're losing our chance to return to American ideals, and losing much of what had made it worth fighting for in the first place.

            People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people. -- "V for Vendetta"

            by Vtdblue on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 07:40:42 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Aiding and abetting a crime after the fact. (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              greenskeeper, aseth, allenjo, Vtdblue

              It truly makes criminals out of the administration.

              "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex" Dwight D. Eisenhower

              by bobdevo on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 08:02:57 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Not sure I'd go quite that far, from a legal (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Something the Dog Said

                perspective, but from a political and moral perspective you're absolutely right. It's definitely aiding and abetting the criminality.  The Founding Folks are spinning in their graves.

                They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

                -- Ben Franklin

                People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people. -- "V for Vendetta"

                by Vtdblue on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 08:55:25 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Convention Against Torture makes prosecution (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  aseth, Vtdblue

                  mandatory.  DoJ totally failing to prosecute. So its at least a treaty violation. I would argue their inaction is tantamount to being an accessory after the fact:

                  Whoever, knowing that an offense has been committed, receives, relieves, comforts or assists the offender in order to hinder or prevent his apprehension, trial or punishment, is an accessory after the fact; one who knowing a felony to have been committed by another, receives, relieves, comforts, or assists the felon in order to hinder the felon's apprehension, trial, or punishment. U.S.C. 18

                  In this case, the Administration is committing a treaty violation in order to NOT prosecute, therefore prevention Cheney's trial or punishment.

                  "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex" Dwight D. Eisenhower

                  by bobdevo on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 10:53:08 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Why would they not return to these practices (3+ / 0-)

              A Democratic Administration has essentially set the precedent that these practices are not prosecutable if signed off on by the Administration in power.

              It makes me sick to my stomach.

              "Just today, Senator McCain offered up the oldest Washington stunt in the book - you pass the buck to a commission to study the problem." Sen. Barack Obama

              by justmy2 on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 08:34:53 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Lincoln as (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joes username, jfromga, judyms9

    a defender of the rule of law and the Constitution?

    Don't get me wrong, I think Lincoln was one of the greatest presidents the country ever had.  But he did what he had to do to preserve the Union, including stepping well outside the bounds of his legal and constitutional authority.

    The jury is still out on whether Obama will reach Lincoln's or FDR's greatness, but he has already succeeded in abolishing Bush's torture regime.  Folks should at least give him credit for that.

    text "YELE" to 501501 to give five bucks to Haitian relief, or "HAITI" to 90999 to give ten to the Red Cross.

    by litho on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 07:11:50 AM PST

    •  And I do. Stopping toture is the first step. (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Xapulin, Chung Fu, rb137, allenjo, Vtdblue, nokomis

      However, merely not torturing anymore is not enough. Is making some one stop robbing banks enough? Is making a person who embezzles stop taking company money enough?

      Is making someone who beats people up stop enough?

      In a nation of laws we find the answer to that to be no. Torture is worse than all of those crimes, so why should we be happy that we stopped?

      Plus, without punishment, there is no reason to expect that some other (Republican) administration will do the same.

      This is about the uniform application of the law.

      Getting Democrats together and keeping them that way is like herding cats that are high on meth, through L.A., during an earthquake, in the rain -6.25, -6.10

      by Something the Dog Said on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 07:16:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks Dog (3+ / 0-)

        for staying on the Path.

      •  When the choice is to torture or not to torture, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Something the Dog Said, Vtdblue

        which button should a human being push? How much credit does a person deserve for not being a bloodthirsty beast?

      •  Obama is far from perfect (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joes username

        and maybe he should be pursuing a more aggressive strategy against the GOP generally.  Intellectual honesty, however, requires that we acknowledge his entire political strategy rests on winding down the partisanship of the Clinton and Bush years in order to restore a government that can effectively address and solve the pressing economic, social, and ecological issues confronting the American people.

        He clearly made a political calculation that prosecuting people would interfere with that broader objective.

        The question we are confronting today is whether his objective was ever attainable and whether instead of reaching across the aisle to the Republicans he should devote all his energy to crushing them as a viable political force.  The risks inherent in that strategy, it seems to me, are obvious.

        text "YELE" to 501501 to give five bucks to Haitian relief, or "HAITI" to 90999 to give ten to the Red Cross.

        by litho on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 07:30:11 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Seriously? You're blaming Clinton and Dems (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Something the Dog Said

          for the "partisanship"?  C'mon...

          ...winding down the partisanship of the Clinton and Bush years in order to restore a government that can effectively address and solve the pressing economic, social, and ecological issues confronting the American people.

          You can't negotiate with terrorists, and that's what the Repugs have become in political terms.  Obama wants to get along with people whose sole goal in life is to politically kill him, the country's best interests be damned.  It's foolish.  

          People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people. -- "V for Vendetta"

          by Vtdblue on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 07:45:10 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  No, I am not blaming Clinton and the Dems (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Vtdblue

            for partisanship.  I am acknowledging that the Clinton years were characterized by intense partisan attacks that severely damaged the nation.

            The Republicans conducted those attacks.

            text "YELE" to 501501 to give five bucks to Haitian relief, or "HAITI" to 90999 to give ten to the Red Cross.

            by litho on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 08:00:45 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Who says it's stopped? To quote Ronald Reagan: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        allenjo

        Trust - but verify.  

        "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex" Dwight D. Eisenhower

        by bobdevo on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 08:06:26 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  i think... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      litho

      he should reach for lbj's greatness instead. give the american people a chance for healthcare the way johnson insured civil rights for all americans. doing this would shut the war criminals up and do something meaningful for the us. time to kick some butt and do the right thing.
      tung sol

      There is a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line.--Oscar Levant

      by tung sol on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 07:28:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Big Dick feels a subpoena in his future. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Something the Dog Said, judyms9
  •  It was stunning... (6+ / 0-)

    to once again hear Cheney proudly and publicly approve of illegality, indeed boast of criminal actions. I don't expect much to happen, other than Cheney's international travel plans will have to be severely limited in the future.

    Is that a real poncho, or is that a Sears' poncho? - Frank Zappa

    by JoesGarage on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 07:21:45 AM PST

    •  Stunning also, to see the success that torturers (5+ / 0-)

      have had in mainstreaming the practice as an "acceptable tool" for interrogations. As if you could seriously ask a drowning person anything. Not if you expect an answer. Too many times, they didn't. The play was the thing.

      •  It's because Holder and the WH let them get away (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Xapulin, greenskeeper

        with it.  Tragic lack of foresight that they don't see how this is setting up the next round of Republican Constitution-be-damned torture and abuse of civil liberties.  Stupid stupid stupid.  And people will act shocked and say, "How could we have known, or prevented this?"  

        People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people. -- "V for Vendetta"

        by Vtdblue on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 07:47:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  something like 58% of people in the US approve of (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Xapulin, DelicateMonster, judyms9

        torture. Also, I saw a really sick story the other day about a soldier who waterboarded his 4 year daughter when she couldn't recite her ABC's.

        Obama administration can't ignore this especially when Cheney goes around openly talking and even bragging about it.

        •  That is one sad and disturbing story about (3+ / 0-)

          the little girl.

          It's one thing to ignore a social faux pas. As James Agee said, you open a window, and the less said the better. But it's another thing to ignore a barking mad dog spewing froth all over the place in your living room.

        •  The fact that 58% approve of torture (4+ / 0-)

          doesn't necessarily mean that 58% of our population are blood thirsty fiends --although it could mean that-- more than likely it means 58% of our population has been brainwashed by an effective torture mongers' campaign into thinking this is necessary.

          This is extraordinarily dangerous and the main reason Obama ought to be pushing for some kind of punishment for those who publically advocate torture.

          At minimum, he should suggest that Dick Cheney is outside the rule of law on this matter and should be regarded as a crazy uncle with a rifle in his hand and mad gleam in his eye. Someone no one should ever take seriously again. Further, someone we may have to put away just to protect innocent people around him.

          90% tax on everyone earning a million or more: a simple solution to funding Healthcare Reform, extending Social Security benefits and other budgetary concerns.

          by DelicateMonster on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 08:00:38 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  house arrest (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DelicateMonster

      good point...several Bush admin figures will soon be severely limited in where they can travel abroad in the future I predict -- nowhere in Europe for sure...most of central and So.America are out...

      Of course, they can always go to Saudi Arabia...

      ...there's a random thought- a book or a movie about Bush and/or Cheney seeking asylum in the Saudi Arabia...

      Joe's Comments Signature

      by Joes username on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 07:43:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not stunning . . . considering the cowardice (0+ / 0-)

      within the administration and the DoJ. He knows Eric Lap Dog Holder will never order a grand jury.

      "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex" Dwight D. Eisenhower

      by bobdevo on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 08:04:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Cheney's international travel plans (0+ / 0-)

      probably not limited, as he is still under the protection of the Secret Service, per Obama's signed order, which also includes not just the Secret Service agents, but vehicles and planes are provided for him.

      So one would imagine that if he wants to fly abroad, it would be on a government jet, to any military base he chooses, and protected by Secret Service, and all at taxpayer expense.

      In a democracy you vote first and take orders later; in a dictatorship you don't have to waste time voting.

      by allenjo on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 08:57:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  At this stage of the game at least half (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vtdblue, judyms9

    of the people in this country believe that torture is good.  It's been glorified as a means of keeping this country safe, it's almost patriotic to embrace it.

    That half of the country would be outraged if charges were brought against Cheney.

    Right now the only thing Cheney is concerned with is paving the road for his daughter's political ambitions.  He shoots his mouth off and she appears on every show there is talking about it for the next two weeks.


    The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

    by nupstateny on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 07:37:46 AM PST

  •  Pardon and Truth Commission? (0+ / 0-)

    Read somewhere last week the idea that Obama just pardon the whole lot and at the same time establish a Truth Commission to fully investigate and expose what happened...with the idea being sacrificing accountability for acceptance, transparency and the rule of law (sort of) in the sense of trying to see to it that it does not happen again....(Of course, the pardon would not help them travel abroad.)

    Obviously, we'd all like to see accountability, but if one assumes that the POTUS does not think that a full investigation with the potential for prosecution is politically feasible, what do people think of this idea?

    Joe's Comments Signature

    by Joes username on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 07:48:13 AM PST

    •  My problem with this is it confrims that (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bobdevo, Joes username, judyms9

      we are so broken we can not actually have the rule of law. It is the kind of thing that countries without civil society in their history do.

      We may be that broken, but I am not ready to give up, yet.

      Getting Democrats together and keeping them that way is like herding cats that are high on meth, through L.A., during an earthquake, in the rain -6.25, -6.10

      by Something the Dog Said on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 07:57:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Fuck a pardon and a truth commission. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greenskeeper

      We already know the truth.  Cheney publicly admits it.  He ordered torture, and he's proud of it.

      "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex" Dwight D. Eisenhower

      by bobdevo on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 08:05:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  "We" do? (0+ / 0-)

        Sure, you and I and DailyKos do, and I think a majority of Americans do, which is why Cheney is trying to re-write history.  But as an alternative to doing nothing, I am wondering if that would at least help educate the 40% or so of Americans who are not so sure or can be educated/informed on this, not to mention future generations.  

        We here agree that doing nothing should not be acceptable.  

        ...but if full investigation, trial and conviction are not feasible or would require sacrifice of all other domestic priorities, I am wondering if this is a third option...better than doing nothing as I said....just a thought.

        Joe's Comments Signature

        by Joes username on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 09:05:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  "require sacrifice all other domestic priorities" (0+ / 0-)

          Sez who?  The criminal justice system is set up to try and convict criminals.  Cheney is a criminal.

          "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex" Dwight D. Eisenhower

          by bobdevo on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 10:47:21 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  "if" (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bobdevo

            it was a question, a rhetorical one, driven by realization of a hyper-partisan GOP, their enabling media, a decisive sector of the electorate being only mildly informed and fickle, and the effects that all can lead to -- see 2009.

            but we don't disagree on the underlying truth -- Cheney is a criminal; a war criminal in fact

            i

            Joe's Comments Signature

            by Joes username on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 01:28:29 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  It's past time - and it's a national disgrace. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greenskeeper, ActivistGuy

    It's the equivalent of letting bank robbers or kidnappers come on TV and brag about their crimes, knowing full well the cowards in the DoJ will not prosectute.

    In Cheney's latest episode of Goodfellas Live, he openly admitted the legal justifications for torture were done on his orders:

    . . . on Sunday, Cheney acknowledged the White House had told the Justice Department lawyers what legal opinions to render. . . responding to a question about why he had so aggressively attacked President Barack Obama’s counter-terrorism policies, Cheney explained that he had been concerned about the new administration prosecuting some CIA operatives who had handled the interrogations and disbarring lawyers with the Justice Department who had helped us put those policies together. ...

    I thought it was important for some senior person in the administration to stand up and defend those people who’d done what we asked them to do.

    So, here's some news for Obama's oxymoronic Department of Justice:  Cheney how has admitted being a proponent of torture, and admitted a legal fiction was concocted to justify torture.

    And what it means is we have an administration that will not raise a finger to do their duty to their country and prosecute torture and murder.

    "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex" Dwight D. Eisenhower

    by bobdevo on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 07:59:05 AM PST

    •  Our ruling elites are above the law (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bobdevo, judyms9

      That's why we have to offset it by creating more listed crimes, and stiffer criminal penalties for those not of the ruling elite.  Have to fill those cells at the privatized prisons for profit optimization, don't you know...

      Losing often means that you had the courage to take on a difficult cause with an unlikely outcome. ~ James Perry

      by ActivistGuy on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 08:18:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Isn't it "centrist" though (0+ / 0-)

    To support torture?  Doesn't it make Democrats "look tough on national security" to enable continuing torture?  Shouldn't these be the governing considerations for "pragmatic" Dems?

    Losing often means that you had the courage to take on a difficult cause with an unlikely outcome. ~ James Perry

    by ActivistGuy on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 08:16:50 AM PST

    •  As a pragmatic Dem, I will say that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greenskeeper, judyms9

      breaking the law to govern, and condoning breaking the law are never pragmatic. They may be convenient in the short term but that is as good as they get.

      Getting Democrats together and keeping them that way is like herding cats that are high on meth, through L.A., during an earthquake, in the rain -6.25, -6.10

      by Something the Dog Said on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 08:21:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hope Holder won't block extradition (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Something the Dog Said, allenjo

    On Monday February 15 in Madrid, Judge Baltasar Garzon will convene an investigation of War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity allegedly committed by U.S. government officials and others during the Bush administration.

  •  If there is cotinuing cavalier acceptance of (0+ / 0-)

    torture, it is only a matter of time before we embrace the Bataan Death March as okay because, well, it was a difficult time for the Japanese.

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