SYNDICATED COLUMN: Russian Hacking: Where’s the Evidence?

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At the smallest, crappiest newspaper in the world – even at a high school paper – no sane editor would publish a story that wasn’t backed by solid evidence. As the 20th century print journalism cliché goes, if your mother says she loves you check it out. So why are the nation’s most prestigious multi-Pulitzer-winning newsgathering organizations repeatedly claiming that hackers working for the Russian government stole emails belonging to the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta, and gave them to WikiLeaks?

Because the CIA says so.

Well, not the actual CIA. Some unidentified people who claim to have seen some report say so.

The charge against Russia is explosive. “In a ‘closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill last week,’ intelligence officials told senators that it was now “quite clear’ that electing Trump was Russia’s goal,” according to Vox. Hothead Sarah Palin enabler and senior Arizona Senator John McCain called it “an act of war.”

Even Times op-ed columnist Paul Krugman — historically a voice of reason and prescience — dove into the neo-Red-baiting morass of this weird month, writing that “bad guys hacked the election” thanks to “useful idiots” (a Cold War slur used against lefties like, um, Krugman, pinned here to Trump and his advisors).

(Hypocrisy alert! I’ll save my catalog of covert U.S. attacks against other nations’ democratic elections — Obama’s role in the recent coup in Honduras comes to mind — for some future book, a format where word counts aren’t as constricting.)

explainersmallAnyway, newspapers and magazines and radio and television and Internet news sites say that Russia was behind the hacks. So, as my editor at the Columbia Daily Spectator would surely have asked, what is the basis of this contention?

“The CIA.’s conclusion does not appear to be the product of specific new intelligence obtained since the election, several American officials, including some who had read the agency’s briefing, said on Sunday,” wrote the Times’ Mark Mazzetti and Eric Lichtblau. “Rather, it was an analysis of what many believe is overwhelming circumstantial evidence — evidence that others feel does not support firm judgments — that the Russians put a thumb on the scale for Mr. Trump, and got their desired outcome.”

The primary basis of this “overwhelming circumstantial evidence” appears to be that whoever hacked the DNC also hacked the RNC but only released the DNC stuff to WikiLeaks. “If the Russians were going to interfere, why on earth would they do it to the detriment of the candidate that was pro-Russian?” asked Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

My editor at the Spec would not have been impressed.

As Sam Biddle writes at The Intercept, “you can’t help but notice all of the qualifying words: Possibly, appears, connects, indicates.”

This is one of those awkward times when you have to admit that Donald Trump has a point: why should we take the CIA, whose BS Iraqi WMD intel led to the deaths of over a million people, at its word?

Why would the very same journalists who let themselves get duped 13 years ago dutifully transcribe what amounts to nothing more than unsubstantiated allegations?

I don’t know if Russia is innocent of hacking those emails — any more than the New York Times and the Washington Post and CBS News and so on know that they’re guilty.

No one knows.

Well, the CIA (and the hackers, if there indeed were hacks) might know. But if the spooks have any evidence, much less proof, they aren’t showing it to us or those idiotic media outlets. Which makes this an unsourced story — and one whose geopolitical implications, involving the world’s most heavily-armed nuclear states makes it incomprehensibly, irredeemably irresponsible to spread around.

If the government wants to warn us that a Russian puppet is about to move into the White House, they ought to take a cue from JFK, who went on television to show secret US spy photos of Soviet missiles in Cuba.

Show us the evidence or shut up.

As if this “Russia hacked the election” episode wasn’t enough to showcase the intellectual bankruptcy of America’s state-controlled news media, the stenographers are ignoring a far more credible explanation for how WikiLeaks got the Podesta/DNC emails: they were leaked, not hacked.

Craig Murray, a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and WikiLeaks associate, told The Daily Mail that a DNC insider motivated by “disgust at the corruption of the Clinton Foundation and the tilting of the primary election playing field against Bernie Sanders” personally gave it to him in Washington. “Neither of [the leaks] came from the Russians,” Murray says. “The source had legal access to the information. The documents came from inside leaks, not hacks.”

Murray is a paragon of integrity, having sacrificed his diplomatic career in order to call out Islam Karimov, the sadistic tyrant of Uzbekistan known for boiling political dissidents to death and his cozy ties to the U.S. (His account “Murder in Samarkand” is highly recommended for its brutal honesty.)

Regardless of your politics, Murray is infinitely more believable than the CIA.

WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange confirms that “the Russian government is not the source.” Assange too has an impeccable reputation.

As far as I can tell, only one U.S. outlet, the right-wing Washington Times, has covered the Murray angle.

Everyone “knows” that Russia hacked the election. But it may or may not be true. To the contrary! The facts point to a leak.

There is “overwhelming circumstantial evidence” that the moral midgets of American corporate media don’t have the slightest interest in uncovering the truth. How perfect as we enter the Age of Trump.

(Ted Rall is author of “Trump: A Graphic Biography,” an examination of the life of the Republican presidential nominee in comics form. Please consider supporting Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

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44 thoughts on “SYNDICATED COLUMN: Russian Hacking: Where’s the Evidence?

  1. Okay, so let’s presume that V. Putin himself hacked Hillary’s emails and provided all that Hillary-produced evidence of her own criminal conduct. Let’s then assume that VP gave copies of this verifiable information to America’s “Never-Ready-for-Mainstream-Corporate-Media,” dynamically less professional, independent Inter-webs news sources. Yup, let’s even presume that the dirty Russkies did it with malice in their hearts!

    So, what’s BarryHO now insanely attempting to do? Russia’s investigative spook-service discovered a great volume of information that conclusively proved the treasonous conduct of America’s Democratic presidential candidate. As I have so far discovered, NOBODY is challenging the circumstantially truthful facts uncovered and then revealed by the information clearinghouse known as Wikileaks (which proclaims that it didn’t get any of its information from Russia). What the lameduck Obama cabal is complaining about is that the unauthorized publication of Hillary’s self-composed criminal conduct has caused her to lose the presidential election.

    Shouldn’t we instead be thanking Russia for the public service it has produced for us? Fundamentally, they prevented a career international criminal from being promoted to America’s highest office! If Putin actually did this, then he just set us free from having a corporately-whoring war-crook from getting selected as America’s next national leader. Meanwhile, Obama still wants America to punish Russia for progressively advocating the rule of truth.

    At its most basic, that’s what Hussein O’bummer wants to do … punish the Russian people for effectively promoting the rule of truth in America.

    DanD

    DanD

    • «At its most basic, that’s what Hussein O’bummer wants to do … punish the Russian people for effectively promoting the rule of truth in America.» I submit, DanD, that the main target here was less the Russians – they will respond in kind and a number of US «diplomats» will leave Russia – than Mr Trump, whose awaited foreign policy initiatives Mr Obama seems to be attempting to render null and void during his last weeks in office. Sort of puts the lie to the notion of a gracious and smooth transition of power, which we have been reading (those of us who read, rather than watch TV) in the corporate media. Domestic warfare in the United States continues unabated ; it promises to be an interesting four years, with much material for the few editorial cartoonists like Ted who remain in the profession – in the event, of course, that any of us survive….

      Henri

      • Oh yes, I truly believe that the Russians DID NOT hack (and then distribute) any Democrat-oriented info, mostly because they simply didn’t need to. Why do all that work when AIPAC and the MOSSAD will simply sell the same, high quality, information to the Russkies (or anybody else, for the right price)?

        If there is an overwhelming 5th Column in America that has its best threat-assessors gripping the public’s choke-pulse, it is among America’s Jew-Zionist element operating with impunity within our nation’s government and financial institutions … and that is simply an undeniable fact. Long before election day, THEY KNEW that Hillary was toast.

        Just as in Amerika, Zionland/SouthEast* has its own shadow government riding herd.

        DanD

        Zionland/West is NYC
        Zionland /East is London
        Zionland/SouthEast is Tel Aviv

        The am-haaretz of Zionland/West are the Christian-Zionists. They are a fickle crowd who — potentially — are Zionland’s greatest enemy.

        DanD

  2. It occurs to me that IF the Rooskies did help Hair Furor mit dem kleinen Schwanzstucker get elected, they would just be following a fine, old, GOP tradition. The Ayatollah helped Reagan get elected, Osama helped Bush get elected, and Satan helped Nixon get elected…

  3. «I have here in my hand a list of 205 [State Department employees] that were known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping the policy of the State Department.» We don’t need no stinking evidence, Ted – and all who call for such are pinkos, and deserve what they get….

    But apart from being depressing and disgusting, it’s also amusing to see so-called «liberals» playing today the role played by the original Tail Gunner Joe. The Democratic-Republican vaudeville team offers voters in the United States (and us in the rest of the world, who willy-nilly are carried along) such amazing choices !…

    Henri

    • Thanks, Henri. I was thinking of this same thing about 12 hours ago. The list of times the media has been hoodwinked–usually willingly and usually due to wandering off the straight and narrow path of good journalism practices–is long.

      But THIS time, really, the anonymous sources and so forth are telling us the truth.

      Don’t remember where, but someone wondered why it’s the CIA talking about hacks when that should be the purview of the NSA. I do too. I actually wonder if it shouldn’t be a joint investigation involving several departments.

      • «Don’t remember where, but someone wondered why it’s the CIA talking about hacks when that should be the purview of the NSA.» From what I’ve read, Alex, the NSA has refrained from commenting publicly on this issue. A matter of preserving one’s credibility ?…

        The impression I’ve gained is that the DNC and the Clinton campaign (to the degree that these two could be distinguished) were, as seems to have been the case with the RNC as well, wide open to anyone with access to a computer and the internet to hack. The real issue is not whether the Russians – or the Germans or the Chinese, etc, etc, had access to those emails – presumably spy agencies continue to spy in this, le meilleur des monde possibles but whether it was any of these which supplied WikiLeaks with the material they published. Mr Assange denies this, and Craig Murray, who seems to be in a position to know, claims the publication of the DNC documents was the result of a leak (internal) rather than a hack (external). To my mind, their credibility trumps (pardon the pun !) that of the CIA, FBI, or the New York Times and the Washington Post….

        Henri

  4. As I’ve said before …

    Review the media’s “coverage” of Trump after the election. They aren’t qualifying any of their statements. They are issuing utterances of absolute certainty that Trump is going to ruin the U.S. forever.

    What happens in four years if the country is still fumbling along pretty much as it is now, or, even worse, is actually doing better? How wrong can the media be allowed to be no fundamental issues before it realizes it has no remaining credibility?

    • > before it realizes it has no remaining credibility?

      My best estimate is about a year after the public realizes it.

      OTOF, the corporate media may well implode before that happy time rolls around.

      • They already have no credibility. Hence their hysterical witch hunts over “fake news.”

    • «Is that how you win a Nobel? By realizing that George W. Bush was going to do for the U.S. what he did for Texas?» When Professor Krugman pontificates on economic matters, Alex, I consider his credentials in the relevant fields and read what he writes with interest. When he pontificates on other matters, i e, comes with asides on of course the Russkies hacked the US election in a blatant attempt to interfere with «democracy» in the United States, I consider his credentials in the relevant fields and read what he writes with somewhat less interest – and a dollop of that superindustrial lubricant your nearby shop so kindly provides the public….

      Henri

  5. Right on Ted. Even I’m kind of surprised that *no one* has covered this. It’s so easy, I mean, you have a really reliable source, on the record, saying the opposite of what everyone is printing. Big headline, right? Duh, right. Uh, maybe not. One thing though, you give Paul Krugman way to much credit. Neoliberal hack who thinks he’s a real liberal. Plus, he’s an economist, which means he thinks he can show things he can’t show at all.

    • There is no such animal as “capitalist economics” – the law of diminishing returns works the same way under capitalism and communism. Under either system, you still need land, labor and capital to produce goods.

      Distinguished Professor Krugman won the Nobel Prize for creating an economic theory which modeled worldwide trade more accurately than the previous one.

      He *correctly* predicted the Bush Recession while others (particularly Jack’s fav supply-siders) were poo-pooing the idea and criticizing him personally for it. His predictions were spot on: deregulation, credit default swaps, and the housing bubble were the primary causes.

      Acting on his advice, I moved my 401K and Ira accounts into more conservative venues and rode out the recession much better than most.

      His models are correct, his predictions come true, and he’s been internationally recognized by a select committee of experts in the field. Any objective examination of the facts prove that he can indeed show the things he claims to show.

      Jack: the reason that your corporate masters want you to hate Krugman is not that he’s bad at his job. It’s because he thinks they should share some of the wealth *you* created; and that the government has an obligation to protect you from them. They’re laughing all the way to the bank.

      • “he can indeed show … I should very much like to see him prove those allegations, ”

        Henri, that particular comment is about economics not Russian hackers. However, if you insist on taking it out of context, then please provide evidence that Prof Krugman has ever stated that he, personally, can prove the Russians were behind it.

      • «… then please provide evidence that Prof Krugman has ever stated that he, personally, can prove the Russians were behind it.» Your comment, CrazyH – «Any objective examination of the facts prove that he [i e, Professor Krugman] can indeed show the things he claims to show»- which I cited in its entirety above, did indeed, concern his economic predictions, which seem to have served you well. My comment – «CrazyH, I should very much like to see him prove those allegations, which he accepts as fact, about «Russian interference» in the US elections» – however, refers to locutions like the following on the part of the good professor : I’m talking about the obvious effect of two factors on voting: the steady drumbeat of Russia-contrived leaks about Democrats, …. The brunt of my remark was not directed at you, but rather at Professor Krugman, who here takes, as he has consistently done, the question of evidence for a Russian hack far more cavalierly than I suspect/hope he would when pronouncing on economic matters. The point is not that Professor Krugman claims to be able to prove that the Russians – or more particularly, the Russian government under the hands-on direction of the Anti-Christ himself, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin – hacked the Democrats, but rather that he seems to regard – wants readers to regard – this as a matter for which no evidence whatsoever is required. With some readers, he seems to have succeeded….

        Henri

      • So your “reply” was in reality complete non-sequitur. Interesting. I am accustomed to replies that have some vague relationship with my comments; especially when the poster takes the time to quote me.

      • «So your “reply” was in reality complete non-sequitur. Interesting. I am accustomed to replies that have some vague relationship with my comments; especially when the poster takes the time to quote me.» I am so terribly distressed, «CrazyH», that I didn’t provide you with the sort of reply to which you are «accustomed». As a matter of fact, you were discussing Professor Krugman in response to a remark – «Neoliberal hack who thinks he’s a real liberal. Plus, he’s an economist, which means he thinks he can show things he can’t show at all.» – by, inter alia, suetonius17, and my response was as least as pertinent to the question of the dear professors reliability as a source as yours ; i e, hardly a non sequitur. I myself am accustomed to persons who, when using Latin phrases, show that they know what they mean, but I am perfectly willing – or rather, must perforce – make an exception in your case….

        Henri

      • :: rolls eyes ::

        I see. You hit the reply button on my post & quoted me in order to reply to S17.

        I fear I have not made myself clear. Allow me to elucidate in an appropriately erudite mien : “Ludicrous Bovine Excrement”

        You were trying to start yet another of your endless, pointless, circuitous, evasive arguments whose sole purpose is to show everyone just how smart you are.

        In that, sir, you have succeeded.

      • Krugman is a supporter of central banking and thus theft of all ordinary people. He is a supporter of massive state power and intervention in the lives of ordinary people. He is a great water carrier for TPTB, excusing massive spending and debt. He is no friend of mine. And henri at least looks a hell of a lot smarter than you here, CH.

      • @Jack – “theft of all ordinary people.” Quoth the gullible tool who voted for a billionaire con man who made his mark stealing from other gullible tools. A man who has openly stated his intentions of making it even easier for those of his ilk to steal from the gullible tools.

        I tell ya’ what, Jackie – should you ever actually read a few of the Distinguished Professor’s works, I’ll be happy to discuss them with you. Oh, wait – I should add read and understand his works.

      • «You hit the reply button on my post & quoted me in order to reply to S17.» Once again, «CrazyH», your prickly nature, along with that lack of intelligence that you choose from time to time to exhibit publicly is making itself evident. As a re-reading of the relevant comments would show to anyone with a command of the English language, I wasn’t replying to suetonius17 ; rather, I was entering a conversation among several interlocutors concerning dear Professor Krugman….

        Keep rolling your eyes ; as there obviously is no brain lying behind them, no harm is likely to come from doing so….

        Henri

      • ” I was entering a conversation among several interlocutors concerning dear Professor Krugman….”

        … by commenting on hackers in a thread devoted exclusively to Krugman’s economic policies. A person with your no-doubt superior reading skills should be able to discern that this particular fiber (excuse me, “fibre”) started with Jack’s comment on ‘voodoo economics.’

        Your attempt at walking it back is as transparent as it is pathetic. EVERY argument with you follows the same script.

        CH: Water is wet.
        MHD: No, CH, Water is blue.
        CH: Actually, water is clear – large bodies may appear blue to do refraction, diffusion, and reflec…
        MHD: No, CH, the sky is blue.
        CH: Wait, we were discussing water
        MHD: You’re obviously not smart enough to understand my point….

        At least we can agree that our intellects are not on the same level. I’m done for now, go ahead and have that all-important last word.

        Oh, wait, “You’re ugly and your mommy dresses you funny”

        Okay, now I’m done.

      • «… by commenting on hackers in a thread devoted exclusively to Krugman’s economic policies.»

        I fear your understanding of what you read is growing ever worse, «CrazyH» ; the syndicated column with which this particular commentary thread is concerned is entitled Russian Hacking: Where’s the Evidence?, and it is in that connexion he was introduced here. Please note the following :

        Ted Rall : «Even Times op-ed columnist Paul Krugman — historically a voice of reason and prescience — dove into the neo-Red-baiting morass of this weird month, writing that “bad guys hacked the election” thanks to “useful idiots” (a Cold War slur used against lefties like, um, Krugman, pinned here to Trump and his advisors).»

        to which suetonius17 responded : «One thing though, you give Paul Krugman way to [sic !] much credit. Neoliberal hack who thinks he’s a real liberal. Plus, he’s an economist, which means he thinks he can show things he can’t show at all.»

        It was only then that the Professor Krugman’s competence (which, by the way, I accept) in the field of economics, was introduced into the thread, by your valiant attempt to defend him by deflection, i e, talking about a matter completely separate from the given one, i e, the dear professor’s willingness, nay, eagerness to propagate the notion of a Russian hack on the DNC and Mr Podesta, in order to throw the US election to Mr Trump….

        I attempted – in my opinion, quite gently – to put the discussion back on the original track by expressing my desire for Professor Krugman here to «show the things he claims to show» i e, «prove those allegations, which he accepts as fact, about «Russian interference» in the US elections»….

        I suggest you go back to rolling your eyes, which about describes your level of competence….

        Henri

      • “He ‘correctly’ predicted the Bush Recession while others (particularly Jack’s fav supply-siders) were poo-pooing the idea and criticizing him personally for it. His predictions were spot on: deregulation, credit default swaps, and the housing bubble were the primary causes.”

        How much of that, however, is commonsense? I mean, anytime someone tells me “gosh, if only there weren’t so many rules, then business could really help the common man” I swing into my local sex shop to pick up a gallon-size bottle of whatever superindustrial lubricant they’ve got.

        Is that how you win a Nobel? By realizing that George W. Bush was going to do for the U.S. what he did for Texas?

    • «All capitalist economics is voodoo economics.» With our beloved friends at Goldman Sachs, so well represented in the cabinets of recent and coming US administrations, as Bondye….

      Henri

  6. When JFK released those photographs, that was wrong. HOW the US knew that the Soviets had missiles in Cuba was Top Secret intelligence information. JFK should have said, ‘The US intelligence agencies have irrefutable proof that the Soviets have installed nuclear weapons in Cuba, and if they do not remove them, it means war.’

    JFK had secret negotiations with the USSR: since he had to stand for election and Khrushchev did not, if Khrushchev would go on TV, say he was stepping down, say that JFK had won an unconditional victory, JFK would accede to all of Khrushchev’s demands.

    Obama did things the right way. The intelligence that irrefutably proves the Russians hacked the election is classified TS/SCI/EO/NoF/NOYB/FO. No patriotic American would ever want to see any such sensitive intelligence information, every patriotic American accepts it for the irrefutable proof that it is, and knows that the election was invalid, and must be nullified and St Billary appointed as #45! Just ask Prof Krugman: anyone who does not agree that St Billary must be #45 is unpatriotic at best, and a heinous traitor at worst.

    • I gotta play devil’s advocate here. If they did have proof – it’s not the kind of thing the man on the street would understand. He’d still be in the position of believing what he was told.

      OTOH, it would almost certainly expose where we are vulnerable. Hackers would understand that.

      So if they have solid proof then they are absolutely doing the right thing by not making it generally available.

      DISCLAIMER: I do not trust the CIA, I do not trust the government, and I do not know whether the Rooskies are behind it.

      • I know it wasn’t the Russians because I know who did it.

        It was the neighbor’s son who lives next door in their deplorable basement.

        You can believe me because I have never lied to anyone before, unlike the CIA whose business is making up conspiracies and finding out conspiracies (which is a fancy word for lies).

        Sometimes I think the CIA gets confused between the conspiracies they make up and the ones they discover because sometimes they discover the ones they made up and think they are real.

  7. Revealing the Podesta emails was so devastating to the opinions held by Democratic voters of Democratic Party candidates—at least by those who read and considered them—that they could only have been released by a vicious enemy who did not wish them well.

    The Democrats were “slandered” by the truth of their own words, so their attack had to be on renegade media that did not recognize coverage of these revelations to be beyond the pale for journalists loyal to the Democratic Party oligarchy.

    “If you stop telling the truth about me, I’ll stop telling lies about you,” is the bargain the Democrats want to strike with journalists, but some who are not for sale want no part of the bargain.

    • “If the Republicans will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them.” – Adlai E. Stevenson

      We’ve come a long way…

      • “We’ve come a long way…” around a circular path.

        The more things change the more they stay the same.

    • «“If you stop telling the truth about me, I’ll stop telling lies about you,” is the bargain the Democrats want to strike with journalists, …» It’s interesting to note, Glenn, that (as far as I know – please correct me if I am wrong) no one has yet accused the leaks (which is what, based on the testimony of Mr Murray, and others, I believe them to be) of being false. But instead of examining the contents of these messages, the corporate media in North America and Europe pretend to be more concerned about their provenance….

      Henri

      • Isn’t this the whole reason for the default implementation of “confidentiality agreements?”

        “Um, yeah, you can participate and potentially profit from my scam. But if you ever rat me or mine out (perhaps, maybe because you originally believed that we were acting above-board and being lawful), then you then you also admit by signing a CA restriction(s), that such prohibited disclosure(s) violations is/are criminally and otherwise tort actionable, and therefore also inadmissible in any other legal action that you (or anybody else) may try taking against us scam-masters regarding the confidentiality-shielded knowledge.

        No such agreements should ever be enforceable — even for the government — if such agreements would be used to shield even “unintended” criminal conduct. Otherwise, malice trumps the rule of law.

        DanD

      • «Isn’t this the whole reason for the default implementation of “confidentiality agreements?”» I tend to think that at birth people should be forced to sign, via their caretaker(s), such confidentiality agreements, with the government, multinational corporations, and other concerned, which prevents them from whistle-blowing/ratting on these entities, and which is enforceable in a court of law. The agreement could be inscribed on a chip implanted subdermally in a location easily readable with the appropriate apparatus. Think how much trouble could be saved when somebody attempts to report on something illegal done by one of these entities – the reader is placed over the chip, wherewith the text of the agreement is revealed and the complaint is summarily dismissed….

        Henri

      • Henri,

        George Orwell wrote his dystopian novels in a somewhat similar vein, thinking that even the hoi-polloi would “get-it.” Then Reagan came along and started implementing 1984 as a .1%er’s instruction manual on how to enslave society. From there? The Bush/Clinton duopoly trade-off was subsequently piled on by BarryHO, as that elitist-of-half-color fleshed Orwell out, redefining him as a subversively hijacked, neo-con prophet. Orwell’s cleverness just works too well.

        Ultimately, people who are cluelessly attached to a real-life paradigm of moral-character end up losing everything because they are forever a half-step behind on the tail end of a righteous defensive. The “truth” never wins out in the long run, because its moral definition is so easily subverted.

        DanD

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