How do you feel about torture?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by 1952Sniper, Mar 6, 2003.

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  1. 1952Sniper

    1952Sniper New Member

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    Loki
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    (1/13/03 2:35:48 am)
    Reply How do you feel about torture?
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    Recent articles in the Economist magazine and the Washington Post raise some tough questions about what I see as a very slippery slope; should our government use torture as a means of obtaining information which might be vital to our national security (or which might also be misused to obtain "confessions" from the innocent)? Could we limit the use to those instances where there is a legitimite national security concern? Would we be justified in using torture on American citizens under some circumstances? Where should a line be drawn?

    I personally don't think there are simple answers to these questions. Here's an excerpt from one of the magazine articles.

    *******

    www.economist.com/printed...ID=1524784

    Is torture ever justified?

    Jan 9th 2003
    From The Economist print edition

    Western democracies have long upheld the international ban on torture, and have publicly criticised other governments that violate it. The Bush administration has lambasted the Iraqi regime for torturing its opponents and has issued reports about similar abuses in other countries. But in its efforts to defeat al-Qaeda, is the American government itself now quietly sanctioning the use of some forms of torture?

    Ends and means
    A detailed account of American interrogation methods appeared recently in the Washington Post. The article quoted American officials who describe beatings and the withholding of medical treatment, as well as “stress and duress” techniques, such as sleep deprivation, hooding, and forcing prisoners to hold awkward positions for hours. The officials also say they sent alleged terrorists and lists of questions to countries known for far harsher interrogation techniques.

    <NB dele>

    One of the few commentators brave enough to take this question seriously has been Alan Dershowitz, a leading American criminal-defence lawyer. He poses the “ticking-bomb” scenario. Suppose you know that there is a bomb about to go off which could claim thousands of victims. You have good reason to believe that a prisoner knows where it is, and that torture may force him to tell. Would you allow him to be tortured? Most people, however reluctantly, answer “yes”.

    After September 11th, this is no longer just a theoretical prospect. This week in London, anti-terrorist police arrested a group of men, possibly members or supporters of al-Qaeda, who had apparently been manufacturing ricin, a deadly toxin. If that is so, the authorities will want to know how much was made, where it now is, and who else was involved. Possibly, lives will depend on finding the answers. In circumstances such as those, one can readily imagine intelligence officers quietly saying, “If only we could really lean on these people.”

    Mr Dershowitz argues that the new threats do justify a limited use of non-lethal torture in extreme cases, and proposes that judges be able to issue “torture warrants”. His solution is the wrong one. But he is right that the threat of more catastrophic terrorist attacks creates genuine dilemmas.

    A first point is that the “ticking-bomb” scenario is not as clarifying as one would wish. If torture is to be allowed, then how much cruelty would be permitted? Would threats against the prisoner's family be all right? His neighbours? His country? Even the extreme circumstance of a “ticking-bomb” threat offers no clear guidance to how far you might go.

    But the bigger problem is with Mr Dershowitz's solution. Even if you allow, as many will not, that torture might be justified under the most extreme circumstances, it would be difficult to confine its use to those very rare cases. Any system that allowed torture in tightly controlled situations would risk eroding into wider use. To legalise is to encourage. Israel tried to limit use of physical coercion to extreme cases, but its security forces have ended up using such methods far more widely than was initially foreseen.

    If America were to sanction torture, to begin with in extremely rare cases, there might be some immediate gains in security. Much as one would like to believe that torture never succeeds in extracting vital information, history says otherwise. But, for the democratic West, any such gains would be outweighed by greater harm. The prohibition against torture expresses one of the West's most powerful taboos—and some taboos (like that against the use of nuclear weapons) are worth preserving even at heavy cost. Though many authoritarian regimes use torture, not one of even these openly admits it. A decision by the United States to employ some forms of torture, no matter how limited the circumstances, would shatter the taboo. The morale of the West in what may be a long war against terrorism would be gravely set back: to stay strong, the liberal democracies need to be certain that they are better than their enemies.

    George Bush has said that the fight against al-Qaeda is a battle for hearts and minds, not just a matter of military power. Though critics focus on his sabre-rattling, Mr Bush has been consistent in his claims to be defending human rights and democracy, and he has persisted in reaching out to Muslims, though he rarely gets credit for this. To keep the moral high ground, he needs to bolster public disavowals of torture by specifying the methods American interrogators can employ, by enforcing the limits, and by desisting from handing prisoners over to less scrupulous allies.

    *****
    etc.

    -- Loki


    1952Sniper
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    (1/13/03 8:00:59 am)
    Reply | Edit Re: How do you feel about torture?
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    I cannot believe that this subject is even being considered. That, my friends, is a strong sign that we are turning into a tyrannical state.

    Torture is unethical. Period. Just think about what our own soldiers endured at the hands of the VC. I've heard stories that make my skin crawl. And now we want to have the freedom to do this to others?

    We have always prided ourselves on the fact that when American forces take prisoners, we treat them humanely. Can you imagine how differently our enemies will react if they know that they will be tortured by us? They will fight to the death, rather than surrender.

    I don't believe the benefits are worth it. We have to hold ourselves to a higher standard, even if it costs us.
    Macht kaputt, was euch kaputt macht!


    AGunguy
    *TFF Staff*
    Posts: 3096
    (1/13/03 8:18:41 am)
    Reply Re: How do you feel about torture?
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    Truly this is a subject not worthy to discuss, but in these assending times you will be amazed at just how far governments will go to preserve themselves to fend off the so called enemy.

    GG


    1952Sniper
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    (1/13/03 8:28:33 am)
    Reply | Edit Re: How do you feel about torture?
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    One more thought....

    When you torture someone to get information, they usually end up telling you exactly what you want to hear, not necessarily the truth. We see this time and time again with people confessing to crimes they did not commit just to get the cops to stop beating them.

    I'm opposed to psychological torture, like threatening someone's family. Or mental torture, like keeping someone awake for extreme lengths of time. I'm even opposed to using a "truth" serum like Pentothal Sodium. These are barbaric tactics, and are not justified in a civilized world. Yes, I understand that American lives may be saved by resorting to these methods. But it's just not worth it.
    Macht kaputt, was euch kaputt macht!


    boomatic
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    (1/13/03 9:29:22 am)
    Reply
    Re: How do you feel about torture?
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    I absolutely fell that Shania Twain should be allowed to torture me as much as she likes...or I like...or something like that...

    2003 Rose Bowl Champions!!!!
    Boom-a-tic
    *Ne'er-Do-Well Wannabe Junior Non-Staff Moderator of the Test Forum*


    Loki
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    (1/13/03 10:42:41 am)
    Reply Re: How do you feel about torture?
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    I'm honestly not so sure I'm absolutely against all the methods described, e.g. "......quoted American officials who describe beatings and the withholding of medical treatment, as well as “stress and duress” techniques, such as sleep deprivation, hooding, and forcing prisoners to hold awkward positions for hours."

    In cases where there would be perhaps hundreds of thousands of American lives that would be saved if we stressed a terrorist in these ways, my morality gets pretty wobbly.

    The reports of those methods in the Wash Post and Economist are not talking about these extreme circumstances, though. They are reporting what our government is purportedly doing presently, in much less clearcut situations. And in these cases I agree with Sniper, that the practices are immoral as well as yielding false information. It's the gray area that is troubling.

    -- Loki


    1952Sniper
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    (1/13/03 11:13:00 am)
    Reply | Edit Re: How do you feel about torture?
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    Quote:
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    In cases where there would be perhaps hundreds of thousands of American lives that would be saved if we stressed a terrorist in these ways, my morality gets pretty wobbly.
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    I, for one, would be deeply troubled to know that my life was saved through the practice of torturing people. I don't think I could sleep at night knowing that.

    It is important to protect American lives, but not like that. We must take the moral high ground, or America becomes another USSR (or worse, Empirial Japan or Nazi Germany).

    Making a moral decision in these times is difficult, especially when you have millions of Americans who depend on you to protect them. But we just simply cannot stoop to this level. If we do, then we turn our backs on the basic principles that make this country great.
    Macht kaputt, was euch kaputt macht!


    Loki
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    (1/13/03 12:02:05 pm)
    Reply Re: How do you feel about torture?
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    Quote:
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    Making a moral decision in these times is difficult, especially when you have millions of Americans who depend on you to protect them. But we just simply cannot stoop to this level. If we do, then we turn our backs on the basic principles that make this country great
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    .

    If the officals quoted are telling the truth, then I think we are well along that path already. Politics and principles don't seem to mix.

    -- Loki


    whiteclouder
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    Posts: 313
    (1/13/03 12:36:59 pm)
    Reply Torture- You Bet His Life.
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    1952:

    Normally I stay out of this hypothetical crap----but.

    Is it not equally immoral and repugnant to know you have condemned 100, 10,000 or 100,000 innocent people to die by you refusal to use what is at your disposal? Especially those people who depend on you for protection.

    Reduce it to a personal level. A kidnapper knows where your child is. You are just going to sit there and let him keep that knowledge to himself while your child dies? And he can’t lie without it being apparent, can he? I won’t fault you for your choice, but mine would be perfectly clear.

    Clouder..


    Chas
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    (1/13/03 12:41:14 pm)
    Reply morals
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    Sniper, it sounds like you believe in moral absolutes

    "If we do, then we turn our backs on the basic [read: unchanging moral] principles that make this country great."

    Loki, on the other hand sounds a bit like a moral (or political) relativist: "principles and politics don't mix."

    I always suspected that a principled politician was an oxymoron.

    I think that a policemen who accidently shoots a families dog should be tortured

    Chuck


    whiteclouder
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    (1/13/03 12:54:24 pm)
    Reply morals
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    Chas,

    If that cop is a moral man, he is being punished. If he is not moral, he is away clean because he did nothing wrong, legally. Take my word for it, he walks.

    Clouder..


    1952Sniper
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    (1/13/03 1:44:57 pm)
    Reply | Edit Re: morals
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    I apologize if I gave the impression that I believe in moral absolutes. I don't. For example, I believe murder is wrong. But in the context of fighting a war, is it acceptable to kill another human being who is trying to kill you. I don't like it, but I understand the necessity.

    What I don't understand is the necessity for torture. That is despicable in my book. If we allow the use of torture, where do we draw the line? Pulling out fingernails? Strapping them to a table with a swinging blade above them? Poking out eyes with red-hot pokers? Sounds barbaric, huh? Or, is there a more civilized way to torture someone? I honestly can't think of any civilized way to torture a person. If we start using torture, we have reduced ourselves to barbarians.

    And if we allow the use of torture, what else will we allow "for the greater good"? Killing a guy's family and making him watch? Public beheadings? Raping a suspect to glean information? Where does it stop?

    Think about this: what if we are torturing an innocent man? What if we arrest a guy who we think is a terrorist, and it turns out later that he is not? And we have tortured the poor guy, leaving emotional and physical scars. That is almost unthinkable. It's worse than executing innocent people. And don't even try to tell me that it'll only be the "bad guys" that get tortured, because you know damn good and well that it won't.

    As to your question about what I would do if it were my family, I would probably resort to whatever means are necessary. But that would be a personal failing on my part. I will have knowingly and purposely committed a sin that I will have to answer for. But just because you or I would do it, doesn't mean we should officially allow it to be done by our government, in a legal fashion. Torture is an act of a desperate person. I don't believe that we, as a country, are desperate enough yet to resort to such tactics.

    Sometimes I'm amazed by what the American people (i.e. the government) will do when they think they are justified. We do all the things that we tell other "lesser" countries not to do, but somehow it's OK for us to do them.

    Macht kaputt, was euch kaputt macht!


    whiteclouder
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    (1/13/03 5:50:24 pm)
    Reply morals
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    As to your question about what I would do if it were my family, I would probably resort to whatever means are necessary. But that would be a personal failing on my part. I will have knowingly and purposely committed a sin that I will have to answer for. But just because you or I would do it, doesn't mean we should officially allow it to be done by our government, in a legal fashion.

    Your convoluted reasoning shows to me at least, that you are by no means sure of your position on this. The President makes decisions that are of that magnitude all the time. He also knows he will be held accountable, if not now, then later. Whether it is official will have little paliative effect on the poor soul being branded. And the matter of degree is moot. Torture one to save your child, torture one to save thousands, it's still one.

    I think a man has to do what his conscience dictates and then live with it.

    Clouder..


    IShootBack
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    (1/13/03 7:46:08 pm)
    Reply Re: morals
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    Well, it kinda sounds like my first marriage and divorce.

    But seriously, I'm against physical torture - like pulling off finger nails and such. I am for physological torture - isolation, misinformation, sleep depravation...

    My .$02
    ISB

    Guns cause crime, like spoons made Rosie fat


    Shizamus
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    Posts: 71
    (1/13/03 8:22:29 pm)
    Reply Re: How do you feel about torture?
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    They are trying to legitimize something
    that is allready occuring.

    www.gcnlive.com
    www.infowars.com


    1952Sniper
    V.I.P. Member
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    (1/13/03 10:24:11 pm)
    Reply | Edit Re: How do you feel about torture?
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    Quote:
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    Your convoluted reasoning shows to me at least, that you are by no means sure of your position on this.
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    Well, you're probably right there. I am, in theory, against it. But that's because I haven't lost anyone dear to me to a terrorist attack or kidnapper or murderer or what-have-you. I wouldn't pretend to know what it feels like to be in a situation where torturing a person would possibly save a loved one.

    It's easy to sit here and preach about what's right and wrong. But when the bad things start happening, I may very well change my tune. Such is human nature. But I still say that using torture methods to make people talk is an act of a scared, desperate person. If our country has already resorted to those tactics (or will in the near future), then things must be a lot worse than we have been led to believe.

    And Shizamus, I think you're right for the most part. We've been doing this kind of thing for a while now. It's just that we haven't declared it to be legal or justifiable. It's all been behind closed doors and hidden from public view.
    Macht kaputt, was euch kaputt macht!


    twins
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 360
    (1/14/03 12:33:23 am)
    Reply Re: How do you feel about torture?
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    My reaction is that if it will save my or my families life, yes. The high moral road for me, is to live and save my family, country, etc..., I can live with that.

    Was it Patton that said "You don't win a war by dying for your country you win by making some other poor bastard die for his".


    IShootBack
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 60
    (1/14/03 5:36:30 am)
    Reply Re: How do you feel about torture?
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    TWINS: I like the patton quote.

    With terrorist's, we do not have an enemy force to battle. We have small cells of zealots. I wonder how Patton would have suggested batteling this type of war? Added, I wonder how many of our great generals would fight this type of war.

    SOunds like a great topic for another post.
    Guns cause crime, like spoons made Rosie fat


    Xracer
    *TFF Senior Staff*
    Posts: 3514
    (1/14/03 9:20:32 am)
    Reply Re: How do you feel about torture?
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    If we're trying to preserve lives.....torture would probably work.

    If we're trying to preserve what we consider "The American Way of Life....the moment we resort to torture, we've lost it.


    rhinoman
    Member
    Posts: 38
    (1/14/03 11:37:41 am)
    Reply Re: How do you feel about torture?
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    No way. Like mentioned earlier at one point the torturee will admit to anything.
    boomatic, If Shania Twain is doing the "torturing" "tell me what I want to here and this is yours" she says as she pulls up her skirt. Well, I'd crack in about 1 millisecond!
    The fight for freedom is not fought overseas in distant lands with guns, missles and bombs. It is fought here with words, pen and paper and I fear, we are loosing it.


    daavros
    Member
    Posts: 1
    (1/14/03 3:02:22 pm)
    Reply
    Re: How do you feel about torture?
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    Quote:
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    Is torture ever justified?
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    Single word answer:

    never

    Daav

    Politics and Current Affairs


    1952Sniper
    V.I.P. Member
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    (1/14/03 3:40:25 pm)
    Reply | Edit Re: How do you feel about torture?
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    Hi daavros, welcome to TFF!

    To expand on an earlier point I made about how our enemies would react knowing that we might torture them, I will add this tidbit: yesterday on the radio, the local talking heads had a guest on the show who was some kind of Special Forces expert. He's a retired Master Sergeant, and was somehow involved in making our Special Forces into what they are today.

    His prediction for the impending "Gulf War II" was that we would be in control of Iraq's military within 72 hours of launching our operations. His reasoning is that many of the young Iraqi conscripts had fathers, uncles, or brothers that fought against the Americans in Gulf War I. They have spread stories to the younger generation about how they were whipped on the battlefield with almost no chance to fight back. But when they threw their arms up in the air to surrender, the Americans treated them with respect. The Americans detained them, and let them go at the end of the war. The Americans fed them, clothed them, and gave them medical attention. Even though we bested them in battle, we allowed them to retain their basic human dignity during their short stint as POWs. This retired Master Sergeant believes that this trust of humane treatment by Americans, coupled with an internal dislike for Saddam Hussein, will facilitate a short-lived war.

    Obviously, there will be small pockets of resistance that will take longer to control. But his prediction is that we will decapitate their command structure in the first few hours of engagement.

    Now, when these Iraqis are cut off from their command center, and they are left to their own decisions, what will they choose? Death in battle? Or a surrender to American forces that will allow them to return to their families?

    Add to that the torture factor. If they know that the Americans have changed the way we treat prisoners, and will now torture them in order to get information, what decision do you think they will make?

    Macht kaputt, was euch kaputt macht!


    Loki
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 76
    (1/14/03 3:41:49 pm)
    Reply Re: How do you feel about torture?
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    daavros says about using torture:

    Quote:
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    Single word answer: never
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    That's a very absolute answer. Could you clarify what you're thinking of when you use the word torture here?

    Do you see a difference between using psychological stress techniques (sleep deprivation, stress inducing drugs, threats) and physical abuse (beatings, withholding medical aid)?

    Would there be any circumstances in which you would use psychological stress (such as the above) to obtain information?

    -- Loki


    CJMudder
    Member
    Posts: 2
    (1/14/03 6:15:02 pm)
    Reply tortured in Ohio
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    Can you say" Marriage" . A week with the ol' lady during"those evil days of the month"and you'd confess to just about anything for some peace and quiet.I'm just wondering where they draw the line.Don't be screwin' with the citizen or it's libel to backfire bigtime.


    505799
    Member
    Posts: 41
    (1/14/03 9:57:09 pm)
    Reply A greater good?
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    Sniper hit the X-ring dead center with his question And if we allow the use of torture, what else will we allow for the greater good?

    To the best of my knowledge not one damned thing a government ever justified as being in the interest of the greater good has actually been done in the interest of the greater good. That statement was only a convenient rationalization. One intended to comfort those unwilling to accept responsibility for the evil they have done, while at the same time conning the unthinking masses into allowing such evil to happen in the first place.

    But are stress and duress techniques, such as sleep deprivation, hooding, and forcing prisoners to hold awkward positions for hours on end forms of torture? How about administration of so-called truth serums or hallucinogenic drugs? How about red hot pokers or the rack?

    I?ve got a very simple test to help you decide for yourself. Ask yourself these two questions ?

    What would you call it if the government did those things to you?

    How would you call it if the government did those things to your child?

    Puts it in perspective, huh?

    The bottom line is this - if our government can successfully justify torture, they can justify a whole bunch of lesser acts that end in despotism and tyranny.


    Tac401
    Administrator
    Posts: 6833
    (1/15/03 1:27:14 am)
    Reply
    Re: A greater good?
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    I think I agree with CJMudder on this one!

    Tac
    TFF VMBB Email Tac


    armabill
    Member
    Posts: 9
    (1/15/03 1:44:48 pm)
    Reply Re: How do you feel about torture?
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    It hurts!
     
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