Murdering journalists … Them and Us: The West & the Real Origin of Islamic Fundamentalism

The West’s weapons of choice in the Middle East- Bombs, Invasions, Overthrows, Torture & Drone Attacks

After Paris, condemnation of religious fanaticism is at its height. I’d guess that even many progressives fantasize about wringing the necks of jihadists, bashing into their heads some thoughts about the intellect, about satire, humor, freedom of speech. We’re talking here, after all, about young men raised in France, not Saudi Arabia.

Where has all this Islamic fundamentalism come from in this modern age? Most of it comes – trained, armed, financed, indoctrinated – from Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. During various periods from the 1970s to the present, these four countries had been the most secular, modern, educated, welfare states in the Middle East region. And what had happened to these secular, modern, educated, welfare states?

In the 1980s, the United States overthrew the Afghan government that was progressive, with full rights for women, believe it or not (1), leading to the creation of the Taliban and their taking power.

In the 2000s, the United States overthrew the Iraqi government, destroying not only the secular state, but the civilized state as well, leaving a failed state.

In 2011, the United States and its NATO military machine overthrew the secular Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi, leaving behind a lawless state and unleashing many hundreds of jihadists and tons of weaponry across the Middle East.

And for the past few years the United States has been engaged in overthrowing the secular Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad. This, along with the US occupation of Iraq having triggered widespread Sunni-Shia warfare, led to the creation of The Islamic State with all its beheadings and other charming practices.

However, despite it all, the world was made safe for capitalism, imperialism, anti-communism, oil, Israel, and jihadists. God is Great!

Starting with the Cold War, and with the above interventions building upon that, we have 70 years of American foreign policy, without which – as Russian/American writer Andre Vltchek has observed – “almost all Muslim countries, including Iran, Egypt and Indonesia, would now most likely be socialist, under a group of very moderate and mostly secular leaders” (2). Even the ultra-oppressive Saudi Arabia – without Washington’s protection – would probably be a very different place.

On January 11, Paris was the site of a March of National Unity in honor of the magazine Charlie Hebdo, whose journalists had been assassinated by terrorists. The march was rather touching, but it was also an orgy of Western hypocrisy, with the French TV broadcasters and the assembled crowd extolling without end the NATO world’s reverence for journalists and freedom of speech; an ocean of signs declaring Je suis CharlieNous Sommes Tous Charlie; and flaunting giant pencils, as if pencils – not bombs, invasions, overthrows, torture, and drone attacks – have been the West’s weapons of choice in the Middle East during the past century.

No reference was made to the fact that the American military, in the course of its wars in recent decades in the Middle East and elsewhere, had been responsible for the deliberate deaths of dozens of journalists. In Iraq, among other incidents, see Wikileaks’ 2007 video of the cold-blooded murder of two Reuters journalists; the 2003 US air-to-surface missile attack on the offices of Al Jazeera in Baghdad that left three journalists dead and four wounded; and the American firing on Baghdad’s Hotel Palestine the same year that killed two foreign cameramen.

Moreover, on October 8, 2001, the second day of the US bombing of Afghanistan, the transmitters for the Taliban government’s Radio Shari were bombed and shortly after this the US bombed some 20 regional radio sites. US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the targeting of these facilities, saying: “Naturally, they cannot be considered to be free media outlets. They are mouthpieces of the Taliban and those harboring terrorists.” (3)

And in Yugoslavia, in 1999, during the infamous 78-day bombing of a country which posed no threat at all to the United States or any other country, state-owned Radio Television Serbia (RTS) was targeted because it was broadcasting things which the United States and NATO did not like (like how much horror the bombing was causing). The bombs took the lives of many of the station’s staff, and both legs of one of the survivors, which had to be amputated to free him from the wreckage.

I present here some views on Charlie Hebdo sent to me by a friend in Paris who has long had a close familiarity with the publication and its staff:

“On international politics Charlie Hebdo was neoconservative. It supported every single NATO intervention from Yugoslavia to the present. They were anti-Muslim, anti-Hamas (or any Palestinian organization), anti-Russian, anti-Cuban (with the exception of one cartoonist), anti-Hugo Chávez, anti-Iran, anti-Syria, pro-Pussy Riot, pro-Kiev … Do I need to continue?

“Strangely enough, the magazine was considered to be ‘leftist’. It’s difficult for me to criticize them now because they weren’t ‘bad people’, just a bunch of funny cartoonists, yes, but intellectual freewheelers without any particular agenda and who actually didn’t give a fuck about any form of ‘correctness’ – political, religious, or whatever; just having fun and trying to sell a ‘subversive’ magazine (with the notable exception of the former editor, Philippe Val, who is, I think, a true-blooded neocon).”

# # # #

William Blum, BFP contributing author and analyst, is an American, historian and critic of United States foreign policy. He is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military & CIA Interventions Since World War II. He has described his life’s mission as: “If not ending, at least slowing down the American Empire. At least injuring the beast. It’s causing so much suffering around the world.” Mr. Blum can be reached through his website http://killinghope.org .

Notes

  1. US Department of the Army, Afghanistan, A Country Study (1986), pp.121, 128, 130, 223, 232
  2. Counterpunch, January 10, 2015
  3. Index on Censorship, the UK’s leading organization promoting freedom of expression, October 18, 2001

 

American Exceptionalism and American Torture

Do Americans and the world need yet another reminder that the United States is a leading practitioner of torture?

In 1964, the Brazilian military, in a US-designed coup, overthrew a liberal (not more to the left than that) government and proceeded to rule with an iron fist for the next 21 years. In 1979 the military regime passed an amnesty law blocking the prosecution of its members for torture and other crimes. The amnesty still holds. 1

That’s how they handle such matters in what used to be called The Third World. In the First World, however, they have no need for such legal niceties. In the United States, military torturers and their political godfathers are granted amnesty automatically, simply for being American, solely for belonging to the “Good Guys Club”.

So now, with the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture, we have further depressing revelations about US foreign policy. But do Americans and the world need yet another reminder that the United States is a leading practitioner of torture? Yes. The message cannot be broadcast too often because the indoctrination of the American people and Americophiles all around the world is so deeply embedded that it takes repeated shocks to the system to dislodge it. No one does brainwashing like the good ol’ Yankee inventors of advertising and public relations. And there is always a new generation just coming of age with stars (and stripes) in their eyes.

The public also has to be reminded yet again that – contrary to what most of the media and Mr. Obama would have us all believe – the president has never actually banned torture per se, despite saying recently that he had “unequivocally banned torture” after taking office. 2

Shortly after Obama’s first inauguration, both he and Leon Panetta, the new Director of the CIA, explicitly stated that “rendition” was not being ended. As the Los Angeles Times reported at the time: “Under executive orders issued by Obama recently, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States.” 3

The English translation of “cooperate” is “torture”. Rendition is simply outsourcing torture. There was no other reason to take prisoners to Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, Somalia, Kosovo, or the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, amongst other torture centers employed by the United States. Kosovo and Diego Garcia – both of which house large and very secretive American military bases – if not some of the other locations, may well still be open for torture business, as is the Guantánamo Base in Cuba.

Moreover, the key Executive Order referred to, number 13491, issued January 22, 2009, “Ensuring Lawful Interrogations”, leaves a major loophole. It states repeatedly that humane treatment, including the absence of torture, is applicable only to prisoners detained in an “armed conflict”. Thus, torture by Americans outside an environment of “armed conflict” is not explicitly prohibited. But what about torture within an environment of “counter-terrorism”?

The Executive Order required the CIA to use only the interrogation methods outlined in a revised Army Field Manual. However, using the Army Field Manual as a guide to prisoner treatment and interrogation still allows solitary confinement, perceptual or sensory deprivation, sensory overload, sleep deprivation, the induction of fear and hopelessness, mind-altering drugs, environmental manipulation such as temperature and noise, and stress positions, amongst other charming examples of American Exceptionalism.

After Panetta was questioned by a Senate panel, the New York Times wrote that he had “left open the possibility that the agency could seek permission to use interrogation methods more aggressive than the limited menu that President Obama authorized under new rules … Mr. Panetta also said the agency would continue the Bush administration practice of ‘rendition’ … But he said the agency would refuse to deliver a suspect into the hands of a country known for torture or other actions ‘that violate our human values’.” 4

The last sentence is of course childishly absurd. The countries chosen to receive rendition prisoners were chosen precisely and solely because they were willing and able to torture them.

Four months after Obama and Panetta took office, the New York Times could report that renditions had reached new heights. 5

The present news reports indicate that Washington’s obsession with torture stems from 9/11, to prevent a repetition. The president speaks of “the fearful excesses of the post-9/11 era”. There’s something to that idea, but not a great deal. Torture in America is actually as old as the country. What government has been intimately involved with that horror more than the United States? Teaching it, supplying the manuals, supplying the equipment, creation of international torture centers, kidnaping people to these places, solitary confinement, forced feeding, Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Chicago … Lord forgive us!

In 2011, Brazil instituted a National Truth Commission to officially investigate the crimes of the military government, which came to an end in 1985. But Mr. Obama has in fact rejected calls for a truth commission concerning CIA torture. 6 On June 17 of this year, however, when Vice President Joseph Biden was in Brazil, he gave the Truth Commission 43 State Department cables and reports concerning the Brazilian military regime, including one entitled “Widespread Arrests and Psychophysical Interrogation of Suspected Subversives.” 7

Thus it is that once again the United States of America will not be subjected to any accountability for having broken US laws, international laws, and the fundamental laws of human decency. Obama can expect the same kindness from his successor as he has extended to George W.

“One of the strengths that makes America exceptional is our willingness to openly confront our past, face our imperfections, make changes and do better.” – Barack Obama, written statement issued moments after the Senate report was made public. 8

And if that pile of hypocrisy is not big enough or smelly enough, try adding to it Bidens’ remark re his visit to Brazil: “I hope that in taking steps to come to grips with our past we can find a way to focus on the immense promise of the future.” 9

If the torturers of the Bush and Obama administrations are not held accountable in the United States they must be pursued internationally under the principles of universal jurisdiction.

In 1984, an historic step was taken by the United Nations with the drafting of the “Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment” (came into force in 1987, ratified by the United States in 1994). Article 2, section 2 of the Convention states: “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

Such marvelously clear, unequivocal, and principled language, to set a single standard for a world that makes it increasingly difficult for one to feel proud of humanity. We cannot slide back. If today it’s deemed acceptable to torture the person who supposedly has the vital “ticking-bomb” information needed to save lives, tomorrow it will be acceptable to torture him to learn the identities of his alleged co-conspirators. Would we allow slavery to resume for just a short while to serve some “national emergency” or some other “higher purpose”?

If you open the window of torture, even just a crack, the cold air of the Dark Ages will fill the whole room.

# # # #

William Blum, BFP contributing author and analyst, is an American, historian and critic of United States foreign policy. He is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military & CIA Interventions Since World War II. He has described his life’s mission as: “If not ending, at least slowing down the American Empire. At least injuring the beast. It’s causing so much suffering around the world.” Mr. Blum can be reached through his website http://killinghope.org .

Notes

  1. Associated Press, December 11, 2014
  2. New York Times, December 11, 2014
  3. Los Angeles Times, February 1, 2009
  4. New York Times, February 6, 2009
  5. New York Times, May 24, 2009
  6. Washington Post, December 11, 2014
  7. National Security Archive’s Brazil Documentation Project
  8. Washington Post, December 10, 2014
  9. See note 7

De-Manufacturing Consent- American Psychological Association Complicit in CIA Torture

Guillermo Jimenez Presents Dr. Roy Eidelson

On this edition of De-Manufacturing Consent Guillermo is joined by Dr. Roy Eidelson, a clinical psychologist, president of Eidelson Consulting, and member of Psychologists for Social Responsibility and the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology. In response to the Senate's release of their executive summary on the CIA's interrogation program, Dr. Eidelson explains the role of psychologists, and the complicity of the American Psychological Association, in CIA torture. We discuss the two principal contract psychologists who developed the CIA's torture program, Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell, and how APA leadership not only fostered their relationship with the CIA but actively worked to hide and protect their involvement.

Dr. Eidelson describes the various psychological techniques Jessen and Mitchell employed, including induced "learned helplessness" — a theory developed by Martin Seligman, who personally presented his methods to the CIA contract psychologists.

Lastly, we discuss the manipulation of language ("enhanced interrogation techniques," "EITs," etc.) and the role of the media and pop culture in the normalization of torture, and why no one has yet been held accountable.

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NarcoNews: Torture Report Reveals CIA’s Manipulation of US Media

Agency Used Classified Information as Currency for Deception
By Bill Conroy

The recently released Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report pillorying the CIA’s Bush-era detention and interrogation program is replete with lurid details of what would commonly be called torture, if those practices were carried out on you or me.

Waterboarding, rectal feeding, sleep deprivation, coffin-size cells and forcing detainees to stand in stress positions, even with broken bones, is the stuff of a horror movie. But there is another revelation in the long-awaited, and controversial, Senate committee report that so far seems to have slipped past much examination in the public spotlight.

The Senate report makes clear that CIA officials attempted to play the media like a fiddle by selectively releasing classified information about the detention and interrogation program.

“The CIA manipulated rules on classified information to serve its own interests,” Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy, said. “And the Senate report cites several examples of that.”

In fact, one of the findings of the report is quite blunt on that front:

“The CIA's Office of Public Affairs and senior CIA officials coordinated to share classified information on the CIA' s Detention and Interrogation Program to select members of the media to counter public criticism, shape public opinion, and avoid potential congressional action to restrict the CIA's … authorities and budget. These disclosures occurred when the program was a classified covert action program.”

This finding is troubling in light of the ongoing efforts to prosecute well-known whistleblowers, such as Edward Snowden of NSA-leak fame, and some half dozen others in separate cases, all of whom could face (or are facing) years in prison for allegedly disclosing classified information to the media. To be sure, there are nuances in each of the cases and the comparison is not perfect, but at the heart of it all is a set of rules on the release of classified information that are marked with double standards.

“If you have no security clearance, and there is not a need to know, then you’re not supposed to get classified information,” Aftergood said. “The Senate committee found that CIA officials leaked classified information [to the media] and no further investigation was conducted.”

The Senate report describes the practice as follows:

“In seeking to shape press reporting on the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program, CIA officers and the CIA's Office of Public Affairs (OPA) provided unattributed background information on the program to journalists for books, articles, and broadcasts, including when the existence of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program was still classified. When the journalists to whom the CIA had provided background information published classified information, the CIA did not, as a matter of policy, submit crimes reports.”

One example illustrative of the practice, cited in the report, is found in correspondence penned by the deputy director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center in 2005, as the torture program was beginning to unravel:

“We either get out and sell, or we get hammered, which has implications beyond the media. [C]ongress reads it, cuts our authorities. messes up our budget. …We either put out our story or we get eaten. [T]here is no middle ground.”

The same CIA officer explained to a colleague that "when the [Washington Post]/[New York T]imes quotes ‘senior intelligence official,’ it’s us ... authorized and directed by opa [CIA's Office of Public Affairs].”

And much of the information leaked to the media via these authorized leaks “on the operation of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program and the effectiveness of its enhanced interrogation techniques was inaccurate…,” the Senate report states.

So, in essence, the CIA operated as a propaganda machine, utilizing classified information as part of a larger effort to deceive the American public about the shortcomings of its torture program, if the Senate report is to be believed. Now, none of this is really new in the big picture of how the government and the media work with respect to classified information. The simple rule to remember is that the higher up in the government the leaker is, the less risk they face.

As far back as 1974, politicians were pointing out this basic flaw in the system. A Congressional Research Service (CRS) report released last year touches on the reality:

You can read the complete investigative report here @ NarcoNews

Processing Distortion: “Abu Zubaydah’s Diaries Reveal Much”

Peter B. Collins Presents Jason Leopold

Investigative journalist Jason Leopold has just published the second of five parts in a series based on the private diaries that were collected when Abu Zubaydah was picked up in Pakistan in March, 2002. Leopold acquired them from an unnamed intelligence source, and they offer insight into Zubaydah's odyssey from displaced Palestinian raised in Saudi Arabia to jihadist in Afghanistan. The still-classified diaries show that Zubaydah knew bin Laden and other mujahideen, but was definitely not an al Qaeda member or leader, and had no advance knowledge of, or role in 9/11, as originally alleged by US intelligence. He confided to the diary his fear of insects, which was used to create the CIA's approved torture regimen, which also included waterboarding at least 83 times. The series installments are here, here & here.

Jason Leopold, currently reporting for Al Jazeera, has been reporting for 15 years for Dow Jones, the Los Angeles Times, and Truthout. He's an investigative reporter covering Guantanamo, counterterrorism, national security, human rights, open government and civil liberties issues. He is the author of a memoir, News Junkie.

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CIA Criminal Revolving Door: CIA Officer “Albert” Involved in False Intelligence Linking Al-Qaeda to Iran, Iraq

Reprimanded for Torture, Retired, then Back to CIA as a Contractor

By Kevin Fenton

BlackBannersA recent book by former FBI agent Ali Soufan shows that the same CIA officer was involved in generating intelligence that falsely linked al-Qaeda to first Iran and then Iraq. The officer was also involved in a notorious torture episode and was reprimanded by the Agency’s inspector general.

The officer, who Soufan refers to as “Fred,” but whose real first name is “Albert” according to a February 2011 Associated Press article, served at the CIA station in Jordan in 1999. During that time, al-Qaeda, aided by a collection of freelance terrorists headed by Abu Zubaidah, attempted to commit a series of attacks in the country, known as the Millennium Plot. However, the attacks were foiled by the local Jordanian intelligence service, working with the CIA and FBI.

During the investigations of the plotters, Albert drafted a series of official cables that were later withdrawn. Although the withdrawing of the cables was first mentioned in a July 2006 article by Lawrence Wright for the New Yorker, Wright did not mention what was in the cables or by whom they were drafted. The content of one of them and the drafter were first revealed upon the publication of Soufan’s book in mid-September 2011.

According to Soufan, one of the twelve withdrawn cables falsely stated that the group of terrorists later arrested for the Millennium Plot in Jordan was linked to Iran. Albert’s reasoning for this was that the group had trained in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, an area of high activity by the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah. Therefore, the group in Jordan had to be working with Hezbollah and be backed by Iran.

Soufan was also sending reports to Washington, and someone in DC noticed that Albert claimed a link to Iran while Soufan did not. An investigation followed and Soufan was proved right—the Millennium Plot had nothing to do with Iran—leading to the withdrawal of Albert’s cables. In his book, Soufan attributes Albert’s error to “a tendency to jump to conclusions without facts.”

Albert had previously worked with the FBI as a translator, but had failed to make agent status, and Soufan says he was reputed to bear a grudge against the Bureau for this slight.

The contents of the other eleven cables that had to be withdrawn are unknown.

AlLibiThe second episode, where Albert played a part in the generation of false information that helped justify the invasion of Iraq, is notorious. Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a senior militant training camp commander in Afghanistan, was captured by US forces and turned over to the FBI towards the end of 2001. Al-Libi was being interrogated by George Crouch and Russell Fincher, an FBI agent a group of CIA officers had withheld information from in the run-up to 9/11. Al-Libi was co-operating with Crouch and Fincher, and had even provided information about an ongoing plot in Yemen.

Albert burst into the interrogation room, told al-Libi that information about plots in Yemen was meaningless, and made threats against him. As a result of this, al-Libi clammed up and refused to provide more information that day. Albert was subsequently banned from Bagram air base, where the interrogation was being conducted.

However, Albert’s superior, CIA Chief of Station in Afghanistan Richard Blee, complained to Washington about the alleged lack of information from the interrogation of al-Libi and initiated a turf war between the Bureau and the Agency. The CIA won and Albert returned to Bagram, taking control of al-Libi.

At one point, Albert threatened to rape al-Libi’s mother. According to Jane Mayer’s The Dark Side, Albert screamed, “You’re going to Egypt! And while you’re there I’m going to find your mother, and fuck her.” Soufan’s book contains a slightly different quote: “If you don’t tell me about what you are planning [redacted, evidently “in Egypt”], I’m going to bring your mother here and fuck her in front of you.” [Read more...]

Podcast Show #61

The Boiling Frogs Presents Nada Prouty

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Former FBI-CIA Agent Nada Prouty joins us in an exclusive interview to discuss her journey from Lebanon to the United States, her sham marriage to obtain US citizenship, what motivated her to join the FBI counterterrorism unit, and why she left the FBI to join the CIA. She provides us with details of being investigated and eventually prosecuted by the Justice Department, and the reasons she pled guilty to two felonies and a misdemeanor to the sham marriage and unauthorized use of a FBI computer. Ms. Prouty shares with us her assessment of the FBI and the CIA, the differences between the two agencies in approaching counter-terror related operations, her take on the Agency’s scandals, from lying on Iraq WMD to documented cases of assassination-rendition- torture, and more!

ProutyNada Prouty is a former CIA case officer of Lebanese origin who was recruited in 2003 into the CIA from the FBI. In 2005 she was investigated for passing information to Hezbollah because her brother-in-law was suspected of having ties to Hezbollah. U.S. officials said that there was no evidence that Prouty had passed secrets to Hezbollah or to other groups the United States considers terrorist. However, the investigation uncovered that Prouty had committed immigration fraud in 1989 by paying a man to marry her so she could obtain United States citizenship. In 2007 she pled guilty to two felonies related to the sham marriage and to one misdemeanor count of unauthorized use of a FBI computer. Ms. Prouty pled guilty to the computer charge to end the case due to the costs of a legal defense, and was given no jail time in exchange for her plea. Her memoire Uncompromised: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of an Arab American Patriot in the CIA is scheduled to be released this November. For more information on Ms. Prouty and her book you can visit her website.

Here is our guest Nada Prouty unplugged!

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The EyeOpener- CIA in the News Media

CIA News: A Brief History of Media Manipulation by U.S. Intelligence 

It is a well-known and uncontested fact that the CIA has enjoyed a long and intimate relationship with some of the largest news organizations in the world, and has used this relationship to manipulate, censor, and even fabricate news stories in support of its own covert agenda.

Over the years, numerous specific examples of the agency's manipulation of the news media have surfaced, including multiple instances where stories that had been outright fabricated by CIA assets had resulted in the justification for military intervention. And, recently we witnessed how the CIA steps in to stop the publication of certain stories when the agency threatened independent documentary filmmakers John Duffy and Ray Nowosielski from publishing the names of two recently identified CIA agents, Alfreda Frances Bikowsky and Michael Anne Casey.

It is no longer disputed that the CIA has maintained an extensive and ongoing relationship with news organizations and journalists, and multiple, specific acts of media manipulation have now been documented. But as long as the public continues to ignore the influence of intelligence agencies in shaping or even fabricating news stories, the agency will continue to be able to set the policy that drives the American war machine at will.

This is our EyeOpener Report by James Corbett presenting documented facts and examples of the CIA’s extensive and ongoing relationship with news organizations and journalists: ‘CIA in the News Media’

*The Transcript for this video is now available at Corbett Report: Click Here

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James Corbett Report: New World Next Week- Secrecy Kills, Occupy Wall Street & More

For tons of brilliant and truly independent podcast, video and interviews visit our partner James Corbett's own website here at: http://www.corbettreport.com/

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