back to article CIA says it 'accidentally' nuked torture report hard drive

The CIA says that it accidentally deleted a report at the heart of a Senate investigation into the agency's use of torture. A report from Yahoo! news claims that the agency's Inspector General managed to delete both the uploaded copy of the Senate's torture report and a disk that contained the office's backup of the report, …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, sure, right...

    Which is more believable?

    An organisation whose charter is to gain, analyse, and make use of information:

    a) Deleted the document despite having extensive procedures for proper document handling, or

    b) Is lying* about deleting "the only copy"

    *Lying - mostly as a form of manipulation - is literally part of the job description for intelligence agencies.

    Who actually believes a)? :(

    1. Gray
      Trollface

      Re: Yeah, sure, right...

      Not only is lying part & parcel of the job description, but for high-echelon officers of the Agency, there is no possible way for any outsider to uncover the truth, nor are there any possible charges to be brought, nor is there the slightest possibility of court proceedings, judgment, or prison.

      It's the ultimate form of a "Get Out of Jail Free" card*, even better than owning the jail, because Agency actions are invisible to any police, investigator general, or congress person.

      Of course the material was accidentally deleted. And nobody can prove differently. My corrupt government sucks ... big ones!

      (I loved the recent revelation that a CIA tip helped imprison Nelson Mandela, and CIA briefs and State Department rules kept Mandela on a "Terrorist Watch List" until 2008, long after he'd been SA President. So much for our denials that America is not a "Racist" nation. Or are we simply cowering in fear of "nasty people who wish to do us harm?" I'll ask my local TSA agent at the airport. Maybe not. They carry Tasers.)

      *Player card in Monopoly board game.

      1. Christopher Reeve's Horse

        Re: Yeah, sure, right...

        Reminds me of that old Onion headline that went something along the lines of:

        "CIA shocked to discover it had been using black highlighters all along"

    2. Smooth Newt
      Facepalm

      Doen't sound like a big deal

      The Yahoo story also says "A CIA spokesman, while not publicly commenting on the circumstances of the erasure, emphasized that another unopened computer disk with the full report has been, and still is, locked in a vault at agency headquarters. “I can assure you that the CIA has retained a copy,” wrote Dean Boyd, the agency’s chief of public affairs, in an email.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Doen't sound like a big deal

        Just because the hard drive is in a vault doesn't mean that the data wasn't deleted.

        In 2001 the CIA invested venture capital into a startup firm making secure storage devices. The driver was a need to delete field data very quickly spurred by memories of the American embassy in Iran being stormed in 1979 and the embassy staff (especially the resident CIA ones) frantically trying to shred and burn a lot of documents. By encrypting the data on the hard drives with the key shared between a number of smart cards it makes effectively deleting the data as quick as destroying a subset of the smart cards. The hard drives don't even need to be present in the storage system allowing you to effectively delete the contents of a hard drive secured in a backup vault.

        It would of course be prudent (not to mention technically possible) to have additional smart cards squirreled away in a very very safe place and never let lessor trusted people know about them.

    3. theblackhand

      Re: Yeah, sure, right...

      c) The CIA promotes person X to position Y. The CIA tells person X that there is a single copy of file Z. Person X witnesses file Z being deleted. Person X is then asked to testify that the only file has been deleted. No lies and everyone is happy....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yeah, sure, right...

        The CIA tells person X that there is a single copy of file Z.

        You were saying something about "No lies"?

      2. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Re: Yeah, sure, right...

        A prosaic way of dealing with this would be to apply Napoleonic justice to all intelligence agencies: they will be assumed guilty until they can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are innocent. Come to think of it, we would have quite a shift in the way things are done in government if this was applied across the board.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          @Robert Helpmann?? -- Re: Yeah, sure, right...

          A prosaic way of dealing with this would be to apply Napoleonic justice to all intelligence agencies: they will be assumed guilty until they can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are innocent.

          In one way, we already have this in place here. If any elected official or high ranking department head's lips are moving... they're lying.

  2. Talic

    Instead, claim the drive was encrypted and then jail the guy indefinitely for refusing to decrypt?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Evidence flushed

    -> GUILTY

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Evidence flushed

      If you are a small company or an individual in a court of law - yes. You are nearly guaranteed to be convicted in this case as you are presumed guilty from this point.

      If you are a big company or a government agency - you are the law.

      In any case, dog ate my homework is the lamest excuse known to man.

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: Evidence flushed

        In any case, dog ate my homework is the lamest excuse known to man.

        Or a rather blatant two fingers raised.

  4. goldcd

    Of course they're lying

    What's going to be interesting is who calls bullshit on this and keeps going until they have a scalp

    (and by a scalp, I mean somebody no longer having a pension or liberty).

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Yes, they are lying. It's as obvious as that bright yellow thing in a blue sky during the day.

      No, there will be no scalp. It will be swept under the rug because procedures, explanations, show of good will, promise not to happen again, golf with a Supreme Court influencer.

      1. BongoJoe

        It's as obvious as that bright yellow thing in a blue sky during the day.

        I live in North Wales. Could you explain this phenomenon?

        1. JoshOvki

          "I live in North Wales. Could you explain this phenomenon?"

          It is that thing that happened once in 1964, caused localised panic and the weather stone was dry for the first time in recorded history.

      2. Wommit

        @Pascal Monett

        "It's as obvious as that bright yellow thing in a blue sky during the day."

        Umm... You don't live in the UK do you.

    2. uncle sjohie

      Re: Of course they're lying

      Not ging to happen, if even Nancy Pelosi, the former house speaker of the senate is afraid to take on the CIA.. https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140317/07441526589/nancy-pelosi-admits-that-congress-is-scared-cia.shtml

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The USA doesn't do War Crimes

    War Crime Decision Flow Chart:

    1) USA Involved?

    (IF YES) ----> Not a War Crime. End.

    (IF NO) ----> Continue below...

    ...

    1. Red Bren

      Re: The USA doesn't do War Crimes

      Neither do its customers.

  6. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    Perhaps Julian Assange can help out here?

  7. Schultz

    Newspeak

    It all depends on the meaning of 'accidentally'. And anyways, from a space-time perspective the information is still there, it's just laterally displaced along the time axis.

  8. kain preacher Silver badge

    Come on at least come up with some thing better.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge
  9. Palpy

    Bastards.

    That is all.

    No, wait. Lying, murdering, torturing bastards.

    There.

  10. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Not a problem

    They can simply fly everyone in the department off to a holiday camp on a nice little island and ask them what was in it.

    I hear they have some revolutionary new tricks for getting people to remember things

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not a problem

      They can simply fly everyone in the department off to a holiday camp on a nice little island and ask them what was in it.

      I hear they have some revolutionary new tricks for getting people to remember things

      Even better is that they still allege they work, so there's really no excuse not to use them.

      Isn't destroying evidence so critical to the credibility of the US an act of terrorism?

    2. Nigel 11

      Re: Not a problem

      In this case the things are surely remembered securely in another place. They should ask the NSA for a replacement copy.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not a problem

        Got to wonder about the CIA's backup regime (as in the technical sense, not "our plan for the next government") if they don't have it available for the long term.

  11. Sampler

    Work version of my dog ate my homework?

    I mean, it's pretty much the same excuse, just when you've moved from school to the workplace:

    Yeah, I had the document you wanted, but accidentally deleted it...

  12. RedneckMother

    don't worry...

    Since Feinstein has been "properly apprised" of the details, there can surely be no problem.

    'Course, the details would include whatever "dirt" they have on her.

    Meanwhile. back at the ranch...

    Tonto, completely unaware of the Lone Ranger's attempt to disguise himself as a door, shot the Ranger's knob off.

  13. croc

    Put the IG in contempt, jail him until the drive is found. After all, it is good enough for people suspected of other crimes, and this crime amounts to almost a treasonable offense. (The War on Privacy...)

    1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      @croc, re: Contempt.

      Exactly. Fucker wants to claim "accidently got deleted... oh, and the backups too", then slap his ass in prison among all the really nasty convicts whom he may have helped put there in the first place. Let him sweat among his new "Friends".

      Meanwhile you go to the next bastard down the chain of command. "Do you have a copy of the data we requested? If not we can jail your worthless ass as well."

      Keep going down the chain until one of them wises up enough to hand over the goods rather than go to prison with all the folks whom would LOVE to talk to him again.

      Eventually you'll get the documents & can start replacing the former heads of the CIA with folks whom don't treat the Constitution as if it were "just a fucking piece of paper".

      I'll stop now. I've had to retype this half a zillion times to get it to stop cursing in disgust & fury every other word. I want off this fucking rock. Where's a Vogon ship when you want one...

      1. Darryl

        Re: @croc, re: Contempt.

        The only problem with your plan, Shadow Systems, is which agency is going to do this? Jobs like this are usually performed by the CIA

  14. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Uncle Sam goes Full Monty Root with Failed State Lap Dog Puppet Regime Routine ‽ .*

    Can we expect an enterprising “The Fall of the Rise of Crippling Intelligence Agencies” from some stalwart soul with an historically accurate academical bent, as failed collapsing systems continue to exhibit evidence of seeking to avoid being tagged and associated with earlier fascist centrist models of command and control, as recorded and reported in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich albeit with the dissimilarity and hump in the road of truth to overcome being the clumsy unintentional executive office shredding [and that’s a real doozy of a positive double negative] and presumed physical loss of virtually available real evidence, which was not denied capture in the former Nazified clone/drone of the systems model ……

    Rise and Fall is based upon captured Nazi documents, the available diaries of propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, General Franz Halder, and of the Italian Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano, evidence and testimony from the Nuremberg trials, British Foreign Office reports, and the author's recollection of six years reporting on Nazi Germany for newspapers, the United Press International (UPI), and CBS Radio —terminated by Nazi Party censorship in 1940.

    * I wonder if that necessitates of a mighty Blighty, an immediate wholesale and retail abandonment of any formerly prized and espoused Special Relationship, or will it just further confirm to all active in the field, how far into the abyss of insignificance and impotence are a once held to be powerful and worthy of emulation, fallen? I suppose that is a question which will be answered correctly with valid leadership, and that is something which media will surely tell us if it exist mainstream.

    1. Gray
      Angel

      Re: Uncle Sam goes Full Monty Root with Failed State Lap Dog Puppet Regime Routine ‽ .*

      Holy Crap!! I must be too damned sober. I actually understood all of that! Bravo!! amanfromMars 1 Bravo!! Have another UPVOTE!

    2. Alistair Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Uncle Sam goes Full Monty Root with Failed State Lap Dog Puppet Regime Routine ‽ .*

      AMfM:

      " I suppose that is a question which will be answered correctly with valid leadership, and that is something which media will surely tell us if it exist mainstream."

      "Rome had always had its fair share of bad emperors. Caligula, Nero, Commodus are such examples. But there always followed good emperors to correct their errors. At Rome's end however, there were really no good rulers"

      I suppose that in some *slim* case we may find that the US pulls its collective head out of it's collective ass, but.

      "Those who ignore history are bound to repeat it"

      @Gray:

      No, you aren't too sober, AMfM simply speaks a unique language. I've noticed it seems to take some time to acquire the ability to translate it in flight. A minimum of a bronze badge is required to comprehend AMfM.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: Uncle Sam goes Full Monty Root with Failed State Lap Dog Puppet Regime Routine ‽ .*

        Hi, Gray and Alistair and fellow lurking El Regers,

        Are we in agreement that currently is there no effective stellar Western leadership in the global field of virtual reality production for media presentation of future placements of remote anonymously betatested and securely supplied programming?

        Or is that a supporting alien concept and practical APT meme to bugger up sub-prime human failings and failures which all tend and trend towards monopolisation of the mainstream?

        Or is it easily and readily made available in Stealthy Quantum Communications AI Mode as both and in something else too, completely different and novel?

        And would those questions be asked if the possibilities were not true, with facilities already provided and creating cosmic wave movements in CyberIntelAIgent Security and Virtual Protection Fields of Effortless Endeavour with Sublime Corrections …… for a sort of real virtual world tectonic plates shifting in the human condition/virtual machine situation?

  15. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Yes, we accidentally wiped it 35 times

    Then it dropped on the floor and somebody accidentally stood on it. Repeatedly.

    1. Bloakey1

      Re: Yes, we accidentally wiped it 35 times

      I say old chap that is a tad excessive, surely accidental deletion would be covered by DoD 5220.22-M which requires less bottom wipes, namely one up, one down and one to polish.

      .

      Now, this deleted data, can it be recovered using Encase? I will lend them a copy if they so wish as i would like to see the bastards suffer for what they have done to their fellow man.

      From my experience torture makes someone tell you what you want to hear and whatever will ameliorate their situation. Whether it be in a cellar in Beirut in 82 or a secure compound in Bagram in 2008.

      The truth is out there but torture is no way to get it.

      1. Ken 16 Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        "From my experience"

        I take it you work in Telesales?

        1. Bloakey1

          Re: "From my experience"

          "I take it you work in Telesales?"

          Nahhh, prior to doing academia at the age of 29 and becoming a computer nerd, I was part of the "cheese eating surrender monkeys" of the Legion Etrangere. Very proud and very happy to have done my bit 'a la' Simon Murray.

          Saw many things and went many places, some of them revisit me on troubled nights or when a certain smell kicks my memory back in place and time. Torture does not work full stop and you can lead a whore to culture but you can't make her think.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Yes, we accidentally wiped it 35 times

        "The truth is out there but torture is no way to get it."

        That's not why they use torture.

        Torture is used because they're psychopaths who enjoy doing it and they think that using torture will scare others into toeing the party line.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yes, we accidentally wiped it 35 times

        Well, having worked on the inside of some of these agencies, I feel a need to comment.

        First off, it's interesting to me how people jump on ANY negative comment about ANY intelligence agency, assuming or swearing it's true, and the agency is guilty until proven innocent, therefore should give up it's intelligence to the public to prove it, and, of course, destroying it's usefulness in the process.

        Second, it's amazing that Snowden seems to have been everywhere, done everything, and knows everything inside the NSA, and absolutely none of the people from my #1 point question that in the slightest.

        Third, interestingly, it seems that torture is defined differently, depending on who is accused (or not accused) of the torture. People are horrified if the west's intelligence agencies use waterboarding (a fairly benign but effective tool, and yes, I have undergone it in SERE school), yelling, or insulting a prisoner...but middle eastern terrorists can whip, cut with knives, and behead prisoners with nary a whimper from the self same horrified people. By the way, the west's intelligence agencies don't use enhanced techniques (which rarely cause anything but immediate discomfort to the enemy) unless the criminal they are using them on committed proven egregious attacks, or was about to.

        Of course, I'll get shouted down on this by those with an agenda ... sadly, most of them have no clue about reality, or those that do are actively assisting the bad guys.

        And, just to fan the flames. Snowden needs to be executed for treason...no possibility of pardon at all.

  16. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Langley has decided that the truth can never be known!

    It's like some 70s political thriller, except there isn't some poor schmo who thinks wearing a vest and striped slacks is "with it".

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The US government and their agents of the state...

    ... are indistinguishable from the corrupt, malicious, illegal organisations they are supposed to be protecting you from.

    What's it like living in such a corrupt state?

    1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: The US government and their agents of the state...

      If we had heard about this from one of Putin's security agencies we all would have snorted and thought, 'yep, that's what a corrupt, semi-totalitarian regime does' -- oh, what, that is hat we've all done and thought.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: The US government and their agents of the state...

      What's it like living in such a corrupt state?

      So which non-corrupt country are you living in? Is a non-corrupt state actually possible? We're all screwed no matter where one lives. It's just a matter of time.

  18. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Gimp

    Mistakes were made!

    But show was run! !!

    Not by clownlike politicians though. They are just there for the enabling.

  19. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

    the inspector general needs a 40 year stretch in which to reflect on the error of his ways.

  20. chivo243 Silver badge

    not deleted

    It has been moved accidentally... and the file name changed. Deleted? Come now my boy, we can't really believe that now can we?

  21. David Roberts Silver badge

    Other copies?

    Didn't the article say there were other copies?

    Ace ranting, though, guys!

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Other copies?

      Indeed it did, but only copies of the report and not in the IG's control. Perhaps the Senate might have a few copies also.

      Even if the report in all it's unredacted glory along with all the related documents still exists, this still smells like a very bad cover-up. And of course, that very fine Senator from California is making an inquiry into this.... the Senator who doesn't like encryption but loves checking on the rest of us.

      I'm not sure who I trust less... NSA, CIA, FBI, or Congress. I think I trust MS a bit more than those 4.

      1. Bloakey1
        Joke

        Re: Other copies?

        <snip good stuff>

        "I'm not sure who I trust less... NSA, CIA, FBI, or Congress. I think I trust MS a bit more than those 4."

        If the answer is Microsoft you have misunderstood the question.

        Not a Fanboi I make my money from 'them'.

      2. Swarthy Silver badge

        Re: Other copies?

        I'm not sure who I trust less... NSA, CIA, FBI, or Congress. I think I trust MS a bit more than those 4.

        Cthulhu is more trustworthy than those four.

  22. The Boojum

    So we know who the BOFH's current employer is then.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anon

    The other day upon the stairs

    I saw a disk that wasn't there

    It wasn't there again today

    Its must'a been wiped by the CIA

    1. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

      Re: Anon

      That's excellent. More of this kind of thing!

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, US, here is your chance.

    There are two choices here.

    A: Jail the highest players in this farce for a couple of decades. After all, they get their salaries because the buck stops with them. Well, it's time that particular buck stops.

    B: Be now publicly acknowledged as a nation with not even the smallest shred of civilisation intact as crimes such as remote murder (drones), local murder (as long as the victim is black) and torture are left unpunished.

    Not that I hold out much hope for option A.

  25. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge

    The problem is with this whole thing, and especially any hope we have of it being pursued legally by US authorities, is that there is simply no will to pursue it at all. It suits the overall US agenda for these files to be missing. Any excuse, no matter how flimsy, is likely to be accepted by the authorities themselves. After all, who benefits from revealing this information? Certainly not the US as a whole.

    But, one more thing. (In the style of Columbo). You say that you've deleted the data, and an on-disk backup. Where are your tape libraries? I've worked in Government IT, on data integrity and backup projects for many years. We had a legal requirement to maintain secure archives of off site, on tape backups for as much as 25 years and somehow I doubt that the US TLAs are massively different in that regard.

    1. Alistair Silver badge
      Coat

      Bernard:

      Have an upvote just for the reference to my favourite TV detective. (and Grandfatherly book reader)

    2. collinsl

      That's classified.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Look the report on torture has been deleted by accident. If you dare suggest otherwise we'll water board you until you shut up.

  27. BongoJoe

    If this happened in the UK...

    ...then all the spooks need to do is to pop down to the London Transport Lost Property Office to retrieve the relevant disk.

  28. Christoph Silver badge

    The CIA chickened out?

    They used to be perfectly open that they destroyed the incriminating documents to get themselves off the hook. See MK Ultra.

  29. arobertson1

    Just Baidu it - I'm sure they'll have a copy.

  30. Yugguy

    Boro Pat 1

    https://youtu.be/MryZ9DM-8hA

    "Oh fuck, I've dropped yer Giro."

    "You cunt."

  31. bpfh Bronze badge
    Meh

    What was "Geneva" that Snowden mentionned?

    Another CIA or NSA project?

  32. NomNomNom

    At a previous job in a call center we kept having problems with customers ringing up and requesting their data under the data protection act, so I wrote a script that would temporarily delete a customer's data when a request ticket for data was created. That way support would just tell the customer there was no data stored in the system. Basically it worked by emailing the customer data to a gmail account I set up before deleting it from the database. That way the customer data was off the company systems. Then I'd just have to remember to log into the account occasionally and reply to the mails to get the customer back on our system. I would prefer to think the CIA were using something similar rather than assuming they are being unethical.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I would prefer to think the CIA were using something similar rather than assuming they are being unethical.

      What you describe above, doing yourself, is extremely unethical and likely would be actionable through the courts.

      Very uncool.

    2. markr555

      NomNomNom - well you are a fuckwitted criminal wanker then! The law is there precisely to protect against pricks like you....

  33. hi_robb

    Hmmm.

    An organisation that wants to know everything about us, doesn't want us knowing everything about them.

    Who says the CIA doesn't do irony.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wouldn't be surprised if the president/congress secretly ordered them to make the report disappear. Makes life much easier for them.

  35. mediabeing

    Great....so who's going to prison for this? At least one person should!!

    I'm ANGRY about this. The citizens of the USA should be too.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Great....so who's going to prison for this? At least one person should!!

      If anyone does, it'll be some very low level person then again.. probably no one. Hell, Nixon's secretary didn't go to jail for deleting the tapes did she?

  36. Someone Else Silver badge

    CIA says it 'accidentally' nuked torture report hard drive

    Suuuuure it did.

  37. ma1010 Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Nothing will happen, and you know why, don't you?

    Intelligence agencies are quite good at their job of gathering information. This includes information on congress critters, senators, presidents, governors, doctors, lawyers, etc. When Hoover was in charge of the FBI, most everyone in Washington was terrified of him because he had files on them all. Any skeletons in the closet? Hoover knew about them. Annoy him, and your nasty little secrets might be tomorrow's news.

    The CIA is the same way. The real movers and shakers in Washington, even if they aren't totally jaded and uncaring, aren't foolish enough to upset the CIA's apple cart. That would be at least a career-limiting move, if not the actually hazardous to your health.

    I suspect the same thing goes on in just about every country. Are there any MPs afraid of what GCHQ might be able to disclose about them?

  38. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    No, it's ok. See, the FBI knows these superhackers in Israel ...

  39. poopoo

    Fascism with apple pie. The CIA is brazenly telling Obama and all America that they are in charge and can fob the nation off with bullshit that a five year old could see through. More fuel for the jihadists and sometimes I think they may have something when they talk about The Great Satan.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still Another Coward

    All we have to do is get creative. Russia or China or the hacker down the street someone must have a copy they will share.

  41. Bob Camp

    That's weird

    Last week I watched a Showtime (premium cable channel) documentary regarding U.S. policy on torture. One of the CIA officials openly admitted to destroying the evidence. He said he did it to protect his subordinates from civil and criminal charges. I think the show was called "The Spymasters".

    Anyway, that completely contradicts this article.

  42. Howard Hanek Bronze badge
    Childcatcher

    Hey! If Every Clout Heavy Pol Can Lie We Can Too!

    .....let's go to the video tape then shall we?

  43. Mr.Mischief

    Is there a BOFH or PFY working at the CIA?

    I suspect an "accident" where the disks were placed on an unusual "Yellow Pages" sitting on a desk..

  44. kain preacher Silver badge

    They found the HDD in an arc furnace.

  45. gadgetricks

    Lost somewhere

    Baidu could have the copy of HDD :|

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