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FTR #579 Gimme a Break! — Reflections on the Death of Gerald Ford

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Introduction: The recently deceased Gerald Ford is remembered for his role in the Watergate Scandal. Having been appointed by Nixon to replace Spiro Agnew as Vice-President, Ford announced, “Our long national nightmare is over.” He then pardoned Nixon of all crimes that he had committed. Nixon’s political downfall turned on his unwillingness to release the Watergate tapes for fear that, if he did, “the whole Bay of Pigs thing” would come out. Nixon aide H.R. “Bob” Haldeman subsequently disclosed that “the whole Bay of Pigs thing” was a code word in the Nixon White House for the assassination of President Kennedy. This program analyzes Gerald Ford’s role in aiding the cover-up of Watergate and, by extension, the assassination of President Kennedy. A member of the Warren Commission, Ford was an informant for J. Edgar Hoover on the Commission’s activities. More importantly, Ford was present at the Commission’s interview with Jack Ruby. Ruby tried to confess that he was part of a conspiracy to murder the President, but Ford and the others present refused to entertain Ruby’s assertions. Among those present at Ruby’s interview was Leon Jaworski, who replaced Archibald Cox as Watergate Special Prosecutor. Present at Ruby’s Warren Commission interview with Ford, Jaworski served the Commission as one of its counsels. When he replaced Cox as Watergate Special Prosecutor and Ford replaced Agnew as Vice-President, Nixon’s fate was in the hands of two insiders who could be counted upon to continue the long cover-up. This was essential, because Nixon was in Dallas, Texas on 11/22/1963. When interviewed by the FBI in February of 1964, Nixon lied and said that the only time he had been in Dallas in 1963 was “two days prior to the assassination.” That lie constituted grounds for convicting Nixon of perjury and indicting him for the assassination of the assassination of President Kennedy.

Program Highlights Include: A UPI interview with Nixon in Dallas on 11/21/63, a day after he told the FBI he left Dallas (published in the 11/22/1963 edition of The New York Times); Nixon’s alleged attendance at a final planning session for the JFK assassination at independent oil man Clint Murchison’s home on 11/21/1963; FBI director J. Edgar Hoover’s alleged attendance at the same planning meeting; Leon Jaworski’s membership on the board of directors of the M.D. Anderson Fund, a CIA domestic funding conduit; White House counsel Charles Colson’s alleged hiring of veteran intelligence operative Gordon Novel to study the feasibility of erasing the White House tapes (the formidable Mr. Novel was a focal point of New Orleans D.A. Jim Garrison’s investigation into the Kennedy assassination); Novel’s enigmatic hints on radio and in print that he may have erased the tapes; Ruby’s last letter from prison, indicating that Nazis were in control of the country.

1. Beginning with the subject of the Watergate scandal and investigation, the program introduces the event with which Gerald Ford is most identified. Before being appointed Vice-President, succeeding to the Oval Office after Nixon’s resignation, and pardoning Nixon for all crimes he had committed, Gerald Ford was one of Nixon’s closest political allies within the GOP. This association became even more important as the Watergate scandal and investigation gathered momentum. “Months before Richard Nixon set Michigan congressman Gerald Ford on the path to the White House, Nixon turned to Ford, who called himself the embattled president’s ‘only real friend,’ to get him out of trouble. During one of the darkest days of the Watergate scandal, Nixon secretly confided in Ford, at the time the House minority leader. He begged for help. He complained about fair-weather friends and swore at perceived rivals in his own party. ‘Tell the guys, goddamn it, to get off their ass and start fighting back,’ Nixon pleaded with Ford in one call recorded by the president’s secret taping system. And Ford did. ‘Anytime you want to do anything, under any circumstances, you give me a call, Mr. President,’ he told Nixon during that May 1, 1973, conversation. ‘We’ll stand by you morning, noon and night.’. . . .”
(“How Ford Stood by ‘Real Friend’ Nixon” by Bob Woodward [Washington Post]; San Francisco Chronicle; 12/29/2006; p. A5.)

2. The Woodward article highlighted the mutual enmity and alarm with which both Ford and Nixon viewed House Majority leader Hale Boggs, D-La. Among the first to publicly expose former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover’s illegal surveillance of American politicians, Boggs had been a dissenting member of the Warren Commission, who believed that Hoover, among others, withheld information from the Warren Commission. As will be seen below, Ford was Hoover’s informant on the Warren Commission. Boggs died in the crash of a small aircraft in Alaska not too long after his exposure of Hoover’s activities. “ . . . On April 6, 1971, for example, Nixon called Ford to find out what was going on with House Majority Leader Hale Boggs, D-La. Boggs had just taken to the House floor saying that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was regularly wiretapping members of Congress, and Nixon wanted to know why Boggs was going public. . . .”(Idem.)

3. In order to understand Watergate—the defining event of Gerald Ford’s political career—it is essential to understand the assassination of President Kennedy. Having been defeated by John F. Kennedy in the 1960 election, Nixon was in Dallas from 11/20/63 until 11/22/1963, flying out an hour or two before President Kennedy was assassinated! When interviewed by the FBI in February of 1964, Nixon claimed that the only time he had been in Dallas in 1963 was “two days prior” to the assassination. This was an obvious lie and would have been grounds for convicting Nixon of perjury and indicting him for the assassination of President Kennedy.
(The Assassination of President Kennedy: Coincidence or Conspiracy?; Bernard Fensterwald, Jr.; published by Zebra Books [SC], division of Kensington publishing, in 1977.)

4. Next, the program features the reading of an article from The New York Times of 11/22/1963. The article is a UPI interview with Nixon in Dallas on 11/21/1963, a full day after he told the FBI he had left Dallas!

5. Presenting a speculative element in the analysis, the broadcast sets forth a passage from Penn Jones’ Forgive My Grief, Volume III, in which Jones discusses the assertion that Nixon was at a final “go” planning conference for the assassination at independent oil man Clint Murchison, Seniorr’s mansion the night before Kennedy was killed. FBI director J. Edgar Hoover was one of the participants in this alleged conference, along with Nixon and Murchison. (Murchison was alleged by Robert De Pugh—head of the paramilitary right wing group the Minutemen—to have been the main financier of the American Nazi Party. American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell’s Arlington, Virginia address and telephone number were in Lee Harvey Oswald’s address book at the time of his arrest.)
(Forgive My Grief, Volume III; Penn Jones; Midlothian Mirror [SC]; Copyright 1969.)

6. Next, the program takes up the subject of the Watergate tapes, generated by Nixon’s secret White House taping system. When Nixon aide Alexander Butterfield disclosed the existence of the taping system, it led to attempts by the Watergate prosecutor to obtain the tapes. Nixon expressed fear that, if the tapes were released, “the whole Bay of Pigs thing” would come out. Former Nixon aide Robert “Bob” Haldeman disclosed that the phrase “the whole Bay of Pigs thing” was a code word in the Nixon White House for the assassination of President Kennedy.
(The Ends of Power; by Robert Haldeman and Joseph Di Mona; New York Times Books [HC]; 1978.)

7. Interestingly (and perhaps significantly), White House counsel Charles “Chuck” Colson allegedly requisitioned formidable veteran intelligence operative Gordon Novel to study the feasibility of erasing the Watergate tapes with a high tech device. Novel was a principal figure in New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison’s investigation into the assassination of President Kennedy, with great expertise in electronic counterintelligence. Colson later dismissed this allegation as fantastic in nature.
(The Assassination of President Kennedy: Coincidence or Conspiracy?; Bernard Fensterwald, Jr.)

8. Although he denies having erased the Watergate tapes, Mr. Novel had an interesting, enigmatic comment in a letter to a high tech publication in which he alluded to his “ . . . . ultra high technology counterintelligence role in Watergate–to erase the White House Tapes [sic]”.
(Excerpt from The Guns of November, Part III; Technology Illustrated; July/1983.)

9. Accessing yet another piece of information from the archives, the broadcast accesses part of a remarkable interview conducted with Mr. Emory on a commercial FM station in 1984. The formidable Gordon Novel called in and, in response to Mr. Emory’s question “So you deny actually having erased the Watergate Tapes?” Mr. Novel replied, enigmatically “Only ‘cause they didn’t pay me.”
(Excerpt from FTR#253; Interview with Dave Emory from The Expressway, hosted by Larry Johnson on KOME-FM [San Jose]; 10/29/1984.)

10. Next, the program highlights Gerald Ford’s role as J. Edgar Hoover’s informant on the Warren Commission. If Penn Jones’ speculation about Nixon and Hoover having attended a final “go” planning session for the assassination at Clint Murchison’s home on 11/21/1963 is accurate, then Ford’s role assumes a larger and more sinister significance. “ . . . The committee learned next to nothing about Jack Ruby, little more about certain of Lee Harvey Oswald’s associations, and nothing at all about the growing escalation of mob threats against the president and attorney general, as picked up by FBI bugs, taps, and informants. They were never informed of the Hosty note, or the Trafficante threat, or Marcello’s ‘Livarsi na petra di la scarpa!’ or of any other assassination talk the FBI may have overheard and suppressed. Nor were they told that Hoover’s informant on the commission was Representative Gerald Ford. . . .”
(J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and His Secrets; Copyright 1991 by Curt Gentry; Plume [Penguin Group] {SC}; ISBN 0-452-26904-0; p. 555.)

11. The conclusion of the program consists of excerpts from Jack Ruby’s testimony before the Warren Commission on 6/7/1964. [The excerpts presented here are from Volume V of the Warren Commission Testimony and Exhibits, pp. 181-212.) Present at this interview (in addition to Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Earl Warren) were Gerald Ford, Leon Jaworski and Arlen Specter. Specter is currently a United States Senator from Pennsylvania. Jaworski was a Warren Commission counsel, as well as being one of two heads of the Texas Court of Inquiry—the entity put together by the state of Texas to look into the killing. In addition, Jaworski was a member of the board of directors of the M.D. Anderson Fund, a CIA domestic funding conduit. When Gerald Ford replaced Nixon as President (after Spiro Agnew’s resignation) and Jaworski replaced Archibald Cox as Watergate Special Prosecutor, the Watergate investigation was positioned to make sure that “the whole Bay of Pigs thing” would not come out! “ . . .RUBY: Is there any way to get me to Washington? WARREN: I beg your pardon? RUBY: Is there any way of you getting me to Washington? WARREN: I don’t know of any. I will be glad to talk to your counsel about what the situation is, Mr. Ruby, when we get an opportunity to talk. [Ruby has been intermittently begging a chance to talk to Warren alone.] RUBY: I don’t think I will get a fair representation with my counsel, Joe Tonahill. I don’t think so. I would like to request that I go to Washington and you take all the tests that I have to take. It is very important. [Ruby’s counsel Joe] TONAHILL: Jack, will you tell him why you don’t think you will get a fair representation? RUBY: Because I have been over this for the longest time to get the lie detector test. Somebody has been holding it back from me. . . . .”
(The Yankee and Cowboy War; Carl Oglesby; Copyright 1976, 1977 by Carl Oglesby; Berkley Medallion [SC]; ISBN 425-03493-3; p. 119.)

12. As he does throughout the interview, Ruby requests that he be taken to Washington and expresses fear for his life if he unburdens himself in Dallas, in the presence of people he does not trust. “ . . . RUBY: Gentlemen, unless you get me to Washington, you can’t get a fair shake out of me. If you understand my way of talking, you have got to bring me to Washington to get the tests. Do I sound dramatic? Off the beam? WARREN: No; you are speaking very, very rationally, and I am really surprised that you can remember as much as you have remembered up to the present time. You have given it to us in great detail. RUBY: Unless you can get me to Washington, and I am not a crackpot, I have all my senses—I don’t want to evade any crime I am guilty of. But Mr. Moore, have I spoken this way when we have talked? MOORE: Yes. [Elmer W. Moore is a Secret Service agent.] RUBY: Unless you get me to Washington immediately, I am afraid after what Mr. Tonahill has written there . . . . Well, it is too bad, Chief Warren, that you didn’t get me to your headquarters six months ago. . . .” (Ibid.; p. 120.)

13. Ruby continues to request a lie-detector test, inquiring if one could be administered in Dallas. “ . . . RUBY: Are you staying overnight here, Chief Warren? WARREN: No; I have to be back, because we have an early session of Court tomorrow morning. RUBY: I there any way of getting the polygraph here? DECKER: [Dallas County Sheriff J.E. (Bill) Decker] May I make a suggestion? Jack, listen, you and I have had a lot of dealings. Do you want my officers removed from the room while you talk to this Commission? RUBY: That wouldn’t prove any truth. . . . I wish the President were right here now. It is a terrible ordeal, I tell you that . . . .” (Ibid.; p. 121.)

14. After unsuccessfully attempting to have Sherriff Decker clear the room of everyone (including his attorney Tonahill), except for the Commissioners and Commission counsels in attendance, Ruby continues: “RUBY: . . . Gentlemen, if you want to hear any further testimony, you will have to get me to Washington soon, because it has something to do with you, Chief Warren. Do I sound sober enough to tell you this? WARREN: Yes; go right ahead. RUBY: I want to tell the truth, and I can’t tell it here. I can’t tell it here. Does that make sense to you? [Emphasis added.] WARREN: Well, let’s not talk about sense. But I really can’t see why you can’t tell this Commission. RUBY: But this isn’t the place for me to tell what I want to tell. . . . Chief Warren, your life is in danger in this city, do you know that? WARREN: No; I don’t know that. If that is the thing that you don’t want to talk about, you can tell me, if you wish, when this is all over, just between you and me. RUBY: No; I would like to talk to you in private. WARREN: You may do that when you finish your story. You may tell me that phase of it.” (Ibid.; pp. 122-123.)

15. Ruby requests that Warren take him back to Washington to give testimony. Warren doesn’t want to hear about it. “RUBY: I bet you haven’t had a witness like me in your whole investigation, is that correct? WARREN: There are many witnesses whose memory has not been as good as yours. I tell you that, honestly. RUBY: My reluctance to talk—you haven’t had any witness in telling the story, in finding so many problems. WARREN: You have a greater problem than any witness we have had. RUBY: I have a lot of reasons for having those problems. WARREN: I know that, and we want to respect your rights, whatever they may be. And I only want to hear what you are willing to tell us, because I realize that you still have a great problem before you, and I am not trying to press you. . . . RUBY: When are you going back to Washington? WARREN: I am going back very shortly after we finish this hearing—I am going to have some lunch. RUBY: Can I make a statement? WARREN: Yes. RUBY: If you request me to go back to Washington with you right now, that couldn’t be done, could it? WARREN: No; it could not be done. It could not be done. There are a good many things involved in that, Mr. Ruby. RUBY: What are they? WARREN: Well, the public attention that it would attract, and the people who would be around. We have no place for you to be safe when we take you out, and we are not law enforcement officers, and it isn’t our responsibility to go into anything of that kind. And certainly it couldn’t be done on a moment’s notice this way. RUBY: Gentlemen, my life is in danger here. Not with my guilty plea of execution [i.e., not because of killing Oswald]. Do I sound sober enough to you as I say this? WARREN: You do. You sound entirely sober. RUBY: From the moment I started my testimony, have I sounded as though, with the exception of becoming emotional, haven’t I sounded as though I made sense, what I was speaking about? WARREN: You have indeed. I understand everything you have said. If I haven’t, it is my fault.” (Ibid.; pp. 123-124.)

16. Commenting on Warren’s response in the passage that follows, author Oglesby comments: “A prize specimen of Warren integrity: If telling us the truth in Dallas would hurt you, cost you your life, we’d rather you just left it unsaid than go to the trouble of getting you to a place where you could feel safe to say it. . . .” “RUBY: Then I follow this up. I may not live tomorrow to give any further testimony. The reason why I add this to this, since you assure me that I have been speaking sense by then, I might be speaking sense by following what I have said, and the only thing I want to get out to the public, and I can’t say it here, is with authenticity, with sincerity of the truth of everything and why my act was committed, but it can’t be said here. It can be said, it’s got to be said amongst people of the highest authority that would give me the benefit of doubt. And following that, immediately give me the lie-detector test after I do make the statement. Chairman Warren, if you felt that your life was in danger at the moment, how would you feel? Wouldn’t you be reluctant to go on speaking, even though you request me to do so? [Emphasis added.] WARREN: I think I might have some reluctance if I was in your position, yes: I think I would. I think I would figure it out very carefully as to whether it would endanger me or not. If you think that anything that I am doing or anything that I am asking you is endangering you in any way, shape, or form, I want you to feel absolutely free to say that the interview is over. [Emphasis added.] RUBY: What happens then? I didn’t accomplish anything.” (Ibid.; p. 124.)

17. Indicative of Warren’s mindset toward Ruby is the fact that, according to Warren, the Commission would not have interviewed Ruby at all if his sister had not written to the commissioners requesting that they do so! “WARREN: No, nothing has been accomplished. RUBY: Well, then you won’t follow up with anything further? WARREN: There wouldn’t be anything to follow up if you hadn’t completed your statement. RUBY: You said you have the power to do what you want to do, is that correct? WARREN: Exactly. RUBY: Without any limitations? WARREN: Within the purview of the Executive Order which established the Commission. . . . RUBY: But you don’t have the right to take a prisoner back with you when you want to? WARREN: No; we have the power to subpoena witnesses to Washington if we want to do it, but we have taken the testimony of 200 or 300 people, I would imagine, here in Dallas without going to Washington. RUBY: Yes; but those people aren’t Jack Ruby. WARREN: No; they weren’t. RUBY: They weren’t. WARREN: Now I want you to feel that we are not here to take any advantage of you, because I know that you are in a delicate position, and unless you had indicated not only through your lawyers but also through your sister, who wrote a letter addressed either to me or to Mr. Rankin saying that you wanted to testify before the Commission, unless she had told us that, I wouldn’t have bothered you. . . . RUBY: The thing is, that with your power that you have, Chief Justice Warren, and all these gentlemen, too much time has gone by for me to give you any benefit of what I may say now. . . .” (Ibid.; p. 125.)

18. As he has throughout the interview, Warren rebuffs Ruby’s entreaties. It is clear that Warren is anything but receptive to discussion of a possible conspiracy to murder the President. “WARREN: Mr. Ruby, I think you are entitled to a statement to this effect, because you have been frank with us and have told us your story. I think I can say to you that there has been no witness before this commission out of the hundreds we have questioned who has claimed to have any personal knowledge that you were a party to any conspiracy to kill our President. [Emphasis added.] RUBY: Yes, but you don’t know this area here. [They squabble about the point. Warren really wants to evade this.] WARREN: Well, I will make this additional statement to you, that if any witness should testify before the Commission that you were, to their knowledge, a party to any conspiracy to assassinate the President, I assure you that we will give you the opportunity to deny it and to take any tests that you may desire to so disprove it. . . .” (Ibid.; p. 130.)

19. Having understood the profound nature of the events of 11/22/1963, Ruby that “a whole new form of government” will come to power as a result of those events. “RUBY: . . . . And I wish that our beloved President, Lyndon Johnson, would have delved deeper into the situation, hear me, not to accept just circumstantial facts about my guilt or innocence, and would have questioned to find out the truth about me before he relinquished certain powers to these certain people. . . .Consequently, a whole new form of government is going to take over our country, and I know I won’t live to see you another time. [Emphasis added.] Do I sound sort of screwy in telling you these things? WARREN: No; I think that is what you believe or you wouldn’t tell it under your oath. RUBY: But it is a very serious situation. I guess it is too late to stop it, isn’t it. . . .” (Ibid.; p. 131.)

20. Warren Commission member (and FBI informant) Gerald Ford joins the discussion. Ruby continues to beg to be taken to Washington and warns of dire consequences if he is not allowed to speak confidentially with the Commission. “FORD: Are there any questions that ought to be asked to help clarify the situation that you described? RUBY: There is only one thing. If you don’t take me back to Washington tonight to give me a chance to prove to the President that I am not guilty, then you will see the most tragic, then you will see the most tragic thing that will ever happen. . . . .” (Idem.)

21. Again, Ruby hints directly at having been part of an assassination conspiracy, and again, Warren doesn’t want to hear about it. Some analysts believe that Ruby’s references to his “people” being tortured and mutilated refers to the fact that Ruby was a Jew, that some figures on the extreme right were trying to pin the assassination on the Jews, and that Ruby knew that Nazi and fascist elements were the authors of the assassination. In the view of these critics, Ruby feared a second Holocaust. “RUBY: . . . Now maybe something can be saved. It may not be too late, whatever happens, if our President, Lyndon Johnson, knew the truth from me. But if I am eliminated, there won’t be any way of knowing. Right now, when I leave your presence now, I am the only one that can bring out the truth to our President, who believes in righteousness and justice. But he has been told, I am certain, that I was part of a plot to assassinate the President. I know, your hands are tied; you are helpless. WARREN: Mr. Ruby, I think I can say this to you, that if he has been told any such thing, there is no indication of any kind that he believes it. [Emphasis added.] RUBY: I am sorry, Chief Justice Warren, I thought I would be very effective in telling you what I have said here. But in all fairness to everyone, maybe all I want to do is beg that if they found out I was telling the truth, maybe they can succeed in what their motives are, but maybe my people won’t be tortured and mutilated. [That is, Ruby begs forgiveness from the assassination conspiracy, having failed in his effort to rat on it through double meanings tossed into Warren’s ear.] WARREN: Well, you may be sure that my President and his whole Commission will do anything that is necessary to see that your people are not tortured. RUBY: No. WARREN: You may be sure of that. RUBY: No. The only way you can do it is if he knows the truth, that I am telling the truth, and why I was down in that basement Sunday morning, and maybe some sense of decency will come out and they can still fulfill their plan, as I stated before, without my people going through torture and mutilation.” (Ibid.; p. 132.)

22. Ruby continues to plead to be taken to Washington and to have a lie-detector test administered. Again, he states that he feels his life is in danger. In the text quoted here, Ruby ends by warning Warren that the far right hated him, as they did Kennedy [and Ruby, a Jew.] “WARREN: The President will know everything that you have said, everything that you have said. RUBY: But I won’t be around, Chief Justice. I won’t be around to verify those things you are going to tell the President. TONAHILL: [Who never left the room] Who do you think is going to eliminate you, Jack? RUBY: I have been used for a purpose, and there will be a certain tragic occurrence happening if you don’t take my testimony and somehow vindicate me so my people don’t suffer because of what I have done. [Emphasis added.] WARREN: But we have taken your testimony. We have it here. It will be in permanent form for the President of the United States and for the Congress of the United States, and for the courts of the United States, and for the people of the entire world. It is there. It will be recorded for all to see. That is the purpose of our coming here today. We feel that you are entitled to have your story told. RUBY: You have lost me though. You have lost me, Chief Justice Warren. WARREN: Lost you in what sense? RUBY: I won’t be around for you to come and question again. [Emphasis added.] WARREN: Well, it is very hard for me to believe that. I am sure that everybody would want to protect you to the very limit. RUBY: All I want is a lie-detector test, and you refuse to give it to me. Because as it stands now—and the truth serum, and any other—Pentothal—how do you pronounce it, whatever it is. And they will not give it to me, because I want to tell the truth. And then I want to leave this world. . . . . How are we going to communicate and so on? WARREN: We will communicate directly with you. RUBY: You have a lost cause, Earl Warren. You don’t stand a chance. They feel about you like they do about me, Chief Justice Warren. I shouldn’t hurt your feelings in telling you that. [Emphasis added.]” (Ibid.; pp. 133-134.)

23. The program concluded with a look at Jack Ruby’s last communication—a letter he sent from prison as he was dying of cancer. Some of Ruby’s statements in the above interview—“a whole new form of government is going to take over our country”—make more sense when viewed against the background of this letter. President Kennedy’s assassination boosted fascist elements (including the Underground Reich) into a position of control over the U.S. “ . . . Don’t believe the Warren [Commission] Report, that was only put out to make me look innocent. . . .I’m going to die a horrible death anyway, so what would I have to gain by writing all this. So you must believe me. . . . that [sic] is only one kind of people that would do such a thing, that would have to be the Nazi’s [sic], and that is who is in power in this country right now. . . . Japan is also in on the deal, but the old war lords are going to come back. South America is also full of these Nazi’s [sic]. . . . if those people were so determined to frame me then you must be convinced that they had an ulterior motive for doing same. There is only one kind of people that would go to such extremes, and that would be the Master Race. . . .”
(The Man Who Knew Too Much; Dick Russell; Carroll & Graf [HC]; Copyright 1992 by Dick Russell; ISBN 0-88184-900-6; p. 684.)


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