Polish Ex-Official Charged With Aiding C.I.A.

March 28, 2012

The New York Times on March 27, 2012 released the following:

“By JOANNA BERENDT and NICHOLAS KULISH

WARSAW — The former head of Poland’s intelligence service has been charged with aiding the Central Intelligence Agency in setting up a secret prison to detain suspected members of Al Qaeda, a leading newspaper here reported on Tuesday, the first high-profile case in which a former senior official of any government has been prosecuted in connection with the agency’s program.

The daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza reported that the former intelligence chief, Zbigniew Siemiatkowski, told the paper that he faced charges of violating international law by “unlawfully depriving prisoners of their liberty,” in connection with the secret C.I.A. prison where Qaeda suspects were subjected to brutal interrogation methods.

When President Obama took office in 2009, he said he wanted to “look forward, as opposed to looking backward” and rejected calls for a broad investigation of C.I.A. interrogations and other Bush administration counterterrorism programs. In sharp contrast, the Poles see the case as a crucial test for rule of law and the investigation by prosecutors here has reached the highest levels of Polish politics.

One of Poland’s prime ministers during the period when terrorism suspects were alleged to have been subjected to torture in Poland, Leszek Miller, could be charged before Poland’s State Tribunal, the newspaper said.

“We try to treat our Constitution seriously and try not to forget the fact that there was a manifest violation of the Polish Constitution within the country’s borders,” said Adam Bodnar, vice president of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, based in Warsaw.

The effect, Mr. Bodnar said, is not simply a matter of looking back, as Mr. Obama said, but also of warning future leaders and officials that they can not operate with impunity. “This case is a huge threat to any Polish official that he will know in the future that such things cannot happen,” Mr. Bodnar said.

C.I.A. officers have been distressed by the public controversies that have broken out over the interrogation program in Poland and other countries, where foreign officials were assured that their assistance would always remain secret. But human rights advocates have applauded the inquiries overseas into what they believe was torture and illegal detention.

While successive American governments have chosen to avoid accusations of abuses, in Poland, where memories of the Communist era and its repressions remain sharp, prosecutors have moved aggressively to tackle the issue. Although pro-American sentiments run high in Poland, there is also great unease after decades of Soviet domination that the country is giving too much influence to a powerful ally.

Gazeta Wyborcza reported that Mr. Siemiatkowski had been charged in January but the matter had been kept secret until now. Prosecutors refused to confirm the reports, which cited an anonymous source in the prosecutor’s office as well as Mr. Siemiatkowski himself. “The investigation will remain confidential until further notice,” said Piotr Kosmaty, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office in Krakow, which has been handling the inquiry.

A C.I.A. spokesman declined to comment.

The C.I.A. has never formally revealed the location of the overseas “black site” prisons, but intelligence officials, aviation records and news reports have placed them in Afghanistan, Thailand, Romania and Jordan, as well as Poland and other countries. Out of fewer than 100 prisoners held in the facilities, roughly 30 were subjected to what the C.I.A. called “enhanced” interrogation techniques, according to agency officials.

In Poland, detainees were held in a makeshift prison at a secret base near Szymany Airport, about 100 miles north of Warsaw. All three of the C.I.A. prisoners who were waterboarded are believed to have been held in Poland, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the architect of the Sept. 11 attacks; Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is charged in the 2000 bombing of the American destroyer Cole; and Abu Zubaydah, who ran a terrorist camp and facilitated militants’ travel.

But all three of the men spent time at other black sites as well, and it is not certain which interrogation methods were used where. Lawyers for Abu Zubaydah and Mr. Nashiri in 2010 filed a formal request with Polish authorities asking them to take criminal action in connection with the C.I.A. program.

Joseph Margulies, a lawyer for Abu Zubaydah, said that he was pleased by the news of charges, which he said were the first to be brought anywhere as a result of the black site program.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. did order a limited investigation of the interrogation program. Mr. Holder announced in July that no charges would be filed in connection with interrogations at the black sites but that the deaths of two prisoners in American custody, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, remained under investigation.

Polish officials have long denied charges by human rights groups that the country hosted one of the black sites employed by the C.I.A. in the campaign against terrorism. Mr. Miller, who was prime minister from 2001 to 2004 and is the leader of the Democratic Left Alliance, a left-wing party in Poland’s Parliament, continues to deny that Poland was ever the site of secret detention facilities.

“I refused to answer any questions from the prosecution and I shall continue to do so at every other stage of the proceedings, including in court,” Mr. Siemiatkowski told the newspaper.

Mr. Bodnar said: “I remember the lessons of constitutionality given by the Americans in the early ’90s, always saying to us, you have to create a new constitution and every action by state authorities must have limits. Poland has just learned this lesson well.””

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


U.S. Law May Allow Killings, Holder Says

March 6, 2012

The New York Times on March 5, 2012 released the following:

“By CHARLIE SAVAGE

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. asserted on Monday that it is lawful for the government to kill American citizens if officials deem them to be operational leaders of Al Qaeda who are planning attacks on the United States and if capturing them alive is not feasible.

“Given the nature of how terrorists act and where they tend to hide, it may not always be feasible to capture a United States citizen terrorist who presents an imminent threat of violent attack,” Mr. Holder said in a speech at Northwestern University’s law school. “In that case, our government has the clear authority to defend the United States with lethal force.”

While Mr. Holder is not the first administration official to address the targeted killing of citizens — the Pentagon’s general counsel, Jeh Johnson, did so last month at Yale Law School, for example — it was notable for the nation’s top law enforcement official to declare that it is constitutional for the government to kill citizens without any judicial review under certain circumstances. Mr. Holder’s remarks about the targeted killing of United States citizens were a centerpiece of a speech describing legal principles behind the Obama administration’s counterterrorism policies.

“Some have argued that the president is required to get permission from a federal court before taking action against a United States citizen who is a senior operational leader of Al Qaeda or associated forces,” Mr. Holder said. “This is simply not accurate. ‘Due process’ and ‘judicial process’ are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security. The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process.”

Mr. Holder’s speech has been planned since last fall, when questions were first raised about the Obama administration’s legal justification for the targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a New Mexico-born radical Muslim cleric who died in an American drone strike last September. The administration has rejected bipartisan calls to release a secret memorandum by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which signed off on killing Mr. Awlaki. Mr. Holder’s speech was designed to offer the public some explanation of the government’s reasoning.

Still, the speech contained no footnotes or specific legal citations, and it fell far short of the level of detail contained in the Office of Legal Counsel memo — or in an account of its contents published in October by The New York Times based on descriptions by people who had read it.

The administration has declined to confirm that the memo exists, and late last year, The Times filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act asking a judge to order the Justice Department to make it public. In February, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a broader lawsuit, seeking both the memo and the evidence against Mr. Awlaki.

Last month, Justice Department court filings against Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man who attempted to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Dec. 25, 2009, provided a detailed account — based on his interrogations — of Mr. Awlaki’s alleged involvement.

Mr. Holder, by contrast, did not acknowledge the killing of Mr. Awlaki or provide new details about him, although he did mention him in passing as “a U.S. citizen and a leader” of Al Qaeda’s Yemen branch when discussing Mr. Abdulmutallab.

Although widely reported, American drone operations over Yemen are considered to be covert by the administration. Mr. Holder said that while he could not “discuss or confirm any particular program or operation,” he believed it was important to publicly explain national security legal principles.

Those began, he said, with the authorization to use military force against Al Qaeda and its allies, enacted by Congress shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, an authority that he said extended beyond the traditional battlefields of Afghanistan because Al Qaeda members are moving — and launching attacks — from elsewhere.

He also said that some threats come from “a small number of United States citizens” who are plotting attacks from abroad, and that “United States citizenship alone does not make such individuals immune from being targeted.”

He focused on one situation in which someone could be killed without a trial: when a citizen who is believed to be an operational leader of Al Qaeda or its allies and who is plotting attacks; who is located in a country that either granted the United States permission to strike or that is unable or unwilling to suppress the threat on its own; and whose capture is not feasible.

Significantly, Mr. Holder did not say that such a situation is the only kind in which it would be lawful to kill a citizen. Rather, he said it would be lawful “at least” under those conditions. Later, he offered an example of another situation in which it would be lawful to kill a citizen even if all those requirements were not met: “operations that take place on traditional battlefields.””

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Holder expected to explain rationale for targeting U.S. citizens abroad

March 5, 2012

The Washington Post on March 4, 2012 released the following:

“By Sari Horwitz and Peter Finn

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Monday plans to provide the most detailed account to date of the Obama administration’s legal rationale for killing U.S. citizens abroad, as it did in last year’s airstrike against an alleged al-Qaeda operative in Yemen, officials said.

The rationale Holder plans to offer resembles, in its broad strokes, those previously offered by lower-ranking officials. But his speech Monday will mark a new and higher-profile phase of the administration’s campaign to justify lethal action in those rare instances in which U.S. citizens, such as New Mexico-born Anwar al-Awlaki, join terrorist causes devoted to harming their homeland.

Civil libertarians and other critics have been demanding a more thorough and public accounting of the administration’s logic since the killing of Awlaki in September. Administration officials have relied on a classified opinion, written by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, that provides a legal framework for the unusual action, but they have refused repeated requests to release it despite intense internal debate on the subject.

Holder plans to argue that the killing of an American terrorist abroad is legal under the 2001 congressional authorization of the use of military force, according to an official briefed on the speech, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss its details ahead of its formal release. This official also said Holder plans to say that the U.S. right to self-defense is not limited to traditional battlefields as the government pursues terrorists who present an imminent threat.

Awlaki, 40, was a skilled propagandist and the chief of external operations for al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, which has attempted a number of terrorist attacks on the United States, according to administration officials. He had been placed on “kill lists” compiled by the CIA and and the military’s Joint Special Operations Command. Awlaki died when a joint CIA-JSOC drone operation fired missiles at him.

He was the first U.S. citizen deliberately targeted by the U.S. government.

Major address on security

The Awlaki operation was carried out after the administration requested and received the Justice Department opinion saying that targeting and killing U.S. citizens overseas was legal under domestic and international law, according to administration officials. The classified memo also included intelligence material about his operational role within al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen.

Senior Obama administration officials, including John O. Brennan, the president’s counterterrorism adviser, and Harold Koh, the State Department legal adviser, have given speeches that offered a broad rationale for U.S. drone attacks on individuals in al-Qaeda and associated forces.

On Feb. 22, in a speech at Yale Law School, Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson said the targeted killing of those suspected of engaging in terrorist activities against the United States, including U.S. citizens, is justified and legal. He did not mention Awlaki by name or the secret CIA drone program.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


F.B.I. Scrutinized for Amassing Data on American Communities

October 21, 2011

The New York Times on October 20, 2011 released the following:

“By CHARLIE SAVAGE

WASHINGTON — The Federal Bureau of Investigation has collected information about religious, ethnic and national-origin characteristics of American communities, according to internal F.B.I. documents made public by the American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday. Citing the materials, the group urged the Justice Department to tighten restrictions on F.B.I. powers.

The documents show that in recent years, agents identified Arab-American and Muslim communities in Michigan as a potential terrorist recruitment ground; noted an increase in the African-American population of Georgia when analyzing “Black Separatist” groups; identified Chinese and Russian communities in San Francisco as a place to look for organized crime syndicates; and highlighted Latino communities as potentially harboring the Central American gang MS-13.

In a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., the A.C.L.U. asserted that the documents showed that “the F.B.I. is illegally and unconstitutionally” targeting people for investigation based on their race or religion. It asked Mr. Holder to bar agents from considering this kind of factor; current rules forbid the use of race or ethnicity unless describing a particular suspect, but contain a broad exception for national security or border-related investigations.

The F.B.I., however, said agents were doing their jobs by analyzing potential threats within their areas of responsibility. It said that the bureau was obeying rules barring investigative activity based “solely” on religion, race or ethnicity, but that such factors could help identify particular threats as well as potential victims.

“Certain terrorist and criminal groups are comprised of persons primarily from a particular ethnic or geographic community, which must be taken into account when trying to determine if there are threats to the United States,” said Michael P. Kortan, an F.B.I. spokesman.

The files, obtained by the A.C.L.U. under the Freedom of Information Act, were produced by F.B.I. field offices as part of a strategy the F.B.I. calls “domain awareness.” That strategy has been central to the decade-long effort to transform the bureau into a domestic intelligence agency that seeks to uncover potential threats and disrupt them before they can reach fruition. This effort grew out of the failure to prevent the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Civil liberties groups say the Justice Department has gone too far in loosening restrictions on its powers.

An F.B.I. manual on investigative guidelines issued in 2008 by Michael B. Mukasey, then the attorney general, tells agents not to engage in racial profiling, but authorizes them to use religion or ethnicity as a factor — as long as it is not the only one — when selecting subjects for scrutiny. (The F.B.I. issued a revised manual to agents on Oct. 15, but has not yet made it public. An official said that the revised manual expanded by several pages a section describing what agents may and may not do in mapping communities, but that it provided greater detail, not substantive changes.)

In a conference call, Hina Shamsi, the director of the A.C.L.U.’s National Security Project, said the documents showed that the loosened rules had led to an “extremely pernicious” practice of ascribing propensity to crimes to people based on their ethnicity or religion.

“It’s counterproductive because it alienates local communities from their government, and it also sends the message that the government views prejudice as acceptable,” she said.

Michael German, a former F.B.I. agent who now works for the A.C.L.U., connected the ethnic mapping to a controversy over F.B.I. training and reference materials, first reported by Wired magazine, that portrayed all Muslims as having a proclivity for terrorism. The A.C.L.U. released additional such materials; the bureau promised last month to review its training and reference materials that refer to culture or religion.

Mr. German said the racial mapping documents and the disputed training documents showed a common “theme of mass suspicion of an entire group based on racial characteristics or religion.” He said the trained agents might be “predisposed to treating everyone from a particular group as suspect.”

The A.C.L.U. also said that since 2008, agents had been authorized to begin low-level investigations, called assessments, of a person or a group without having any prior factual basis for suspecting the target of wrongdoing. The rights group also asked Mr. Holder to eliminate that authority, and it released an F.B.I. document shedding new light on the scope of the information that agents collect in an assessment.

The document showed that agents were told to identify a target’s phone numbers, addresses and e-mail accounts and see whether they turned up anything in searches of law enforcement and intelligence databases; collecting information about the target’s job, including access to hazardous materials; uncovering a target’s overseas travel history for the past year; looking for licenses for things like firearms or explosives; and scrutinizing any other adults the target lives with.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


A New Strategy to Combat an Evolving Threat

July 26, 2011

The White House on July 25, 2011 released the following:

“Posted by Eric H. Holder, Jr.

Today, I am proud to stand with my colleagues from across the Administration as we unveil a comprehensive, cutting-edge strategy – the Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime – that will take our nation’s fight against transnational organized crime to the next level.

Not only will this new strategy allow us to integrate our work more effectively, and to leverage limited resources more efficiently, it also will ensure that our agencies – and our government and law enforcement partners – have the tools and authorities necessary to protect the American people from some of today’s most urgent, and complex, threats.

Of course, the problem of transnational organized crime networks isn’t new. But after a wide-ranging, year-long review – the first study of its kind in more than 15 years – our understanding of what exactly we’re up against has never been clearer or more complete.

Today’s criminal organizations are increasingly sophisticated. They know no borders. They threaten the stability of our financial system, and the promise of a competitive marketplace. And their operations are putting far too many American businesses, government institutions, consumers, and citizens at risk.

For these reasons, in recent years, the Justice Department has strengthened our fight against transnational organized crime – and expanded our successful counter-narcotics work. But this is no longer just a law enforcement issue; it is a problem that demands the attention, and assistance, of a broad spectrum of partners.

With this new strategy, leaders across government and law enforcement are signaling our commitment to combat transnational organized crime by sharing information and expertise as never before, and by developing the legislative solutions we need to address 21st-century threats. This framework will bolster relevant authorities here in the U.S. – while, at the same time, strengthening existing partnerships with our allies around the world. It will also pave the way for broad international cooperation long into the future.

One of the centerpieces of this strategy is a series of legislative proposals designed to enhance the tools that our nation’s Department of Justice – and our law enforcement partners at every level – can bring to bear in the fight against transnational organized crime. These proposals would help to ensure that our statutory landscape is up to date, and that prosecutors and investigators have the capacity to keep pace with the unprecedented threats posed by criminal enterprises that target the United States, including those that operate beyond our borders.

These essential legislative updates would improve our ability to break the financial backbone of criminal organizations by extending the reach of anti-money laundering provisions. They also would enhance our ability to identify and respond to the most common, and often evolving, tactics – and methods of communication – that criminal organizations use to conceal their illicit operations and profits – which, too often, are used to bankroll drug trafficking and even terrorist activity.

As we have learned in the most difficult of ways, the threats that we face are real – and they are constantly evolving. But today, with the release of this Transnational Organized Crime Strategy, we usher in a new era of national vigilance, global engagement, and close collaboration among – and beyond – our respective agencies and departments.

On its own, no single agency, company, community, or country has the perspective necessary to fully assess the nature of the threats we face – or to overcome them. But I have every confidence that this new strategy – and, in particular, the legislative proposals it includes – will strengthen cooperation among relevant authorities, advance our fight against organized crime networks – no matter where they operate – and allow us to build on the record of progress that has been achieved in recent years.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Judiciary Supports Retroactivity of Crack Cocaine Amendments

June 22, 2011
Judge Reggie Walton
Judge Reggie Walton (D. D.C.) testified in June before the U.S. Sentencing Commission

The U.S. Courts – The Third Branch in June 2011 released the following:

““I recommend that the Sentencing Commission . . . give retroactive effect to its recently promulgated amendments lowering sentences for crack offenses,” Judge Reggie Walton (D. D.C.) said at a Commission hearing held this month to consider making recently promulgated crack cocaine amendments retroactive. Walton spoke on behalf of the Judicial Conference Criminal Law Committee.

The amendments would reduce penalties for crack cocaine trafficking and would modify the guidelines provisions related to simple possession of crack cocaine. The sentences of more than 12,000 federal inmates would be affected by a decision to make the amendments retroactive.

Despite significant anticipated budget reductions for the Judiciary and the workload associated with sentence reductions for more than 12,000 inmates, Walton told the Commission that the Criminal Law Committee “continues to believe that an extremely serious administrative problem would have to exist to justify not applying the amendment retroactively. At this time, the Committee does not believe that an extremely serious problem exists.”

Walton also said there continues to be strong support throughout the Judiciary to remedy the injustices related to crack sentencing.

“If the guideline is faulty and has been fixed for future cases, then we also need to undo past errors as well,” he said.

Among the witnesses testifying at the hearing were Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. and Thomas R. Kane, acting director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, along with panels of practitioners, law enforcement experts, and academics, and a community interest panel.

Holder also called for the retroactive application of the guideline amendment—with a proviso that applies to certain dangerous offenders: “those who have possessed or used weapons in committing their crimes and those who have significant criminal histories should be categorically prohibited from receiving the benefits of retroactivity,” said Holder.

Walton noted that the Criminal Law Committee’s recommendation in favor of retroactivity is limited to two parts of the amendment: Part A, affecting the drug quantity table for offenses involving crack cocaine; and Part C, which deletes a cross reference in the guidelines manual that effectively lowers guideline ranges for certain defendants involving simple possession of crack cocaine. Both of these amendments, “are consistent with the Judicial Conference’s position opposing sentencing differences between crack and powder cocaine and agreeing to support the reduction of those differences,” said Walton.

In October 2010, the USSC promulgated a temporary emergency amendment that implemented the emergency directive in section 8 of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. In April 2011, the USSC re-promulgated the temporary amendment as a permanent amendment, which will become effective, absent congressional action, on November 1, 2011. At the same time, the Commission asked for comment on whether it should give the amendment retroactive effect.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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