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House Votes For Telco Immunity; Obama Will Support? 436

Posted by kdawson
from the now-we-will-never-know dept.
We discussed telecom immunity yesterday ahead of the House vote. It passed by 293 votes to 129. Only one Republican voted against the bill; Democrats were evenly split. It now goes to the Senate. Reader Verteiron points out that Glenn Greenwald has up a post titled "Statement of Barack Obama supporting Hoyer FISA bill." It says that Obama will try to get the immunity provision removed, but failing that will vote for the overhauled wiretapping bill anyway. I couldn't find this on Obama's official site. Anyone seen a position from the McCain camp?
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House Votes For Telco Immunity; Obama Will Support?

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  • Hope and Change (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 21, 2008 @02:38PM (#23887103)

    Perhaps that slogan only really means that we can hope all we want for some change, 'cause we're never going to get it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Obama is fighting to remove immunity [cbsnews.com].

      Basically, he's the only Democrat who ISN'T caving right now. And that is a change...

      • by General Wesc (59919) <slashdot@wescnet.cjb.net> on Saturday June 21, 2008 @04:06PM (#23887985) Homepage Journal

        Basically, he's the only Democrat who ISN'T caving right now. And that is a change...

        Ummm...the only? The article you quoted has Reid saying he'd fight. Conyers fought it. Nadler fought it. Feingold fought it. Now that it's going to the Senate, Leahy and Dodd will likely lead the charge against it. (My not-paying-much-attention understanding is that Dodd's been pretty amazing about this stuff for some time now.)

        There are a lot of Democrats putting up a decent fight. Just not enough. (And to be Fair and Balanced about it, there are some Republicans doing the right thing too, including our usually-hated Senator Arlen Specter.)

        Pelosi, however, is made of fail.

        • by Max Threshold (540114) on Saturday June 21, 2008 @04:58PM (#23888537)

          "Pelosi, however, is made of fail."

          Pelosi is shrub's little bitch now, because she knew about the White House's plans for illegal detention and torture back in 2002 or 2003 and didn't raise the bullshit flag. Her career is the reason Bush hasn't been impeached and locked in Gitmo.

          Bitch can go to Gitmo, too, as far as I'm concerned.

        • by Khaed (544779) on Saturday June 21, 2008 @05:42PM (#23888963)

          Pelosi is one of the reasons I can't respect the Democratic Congress. She's an utter failure and a moron, and there are so many candidates for Speaker that they should have looked at before her. She is basically an affirmative action choice, and a poor one at that.

          But that's just my opinion.

  • by analog_line (465182) on Saturday June 21, 2008 @02:39PM (#23887113)

    He's on the Senate committee that is responsible for them. He's going to vote for it, you can be assured.

    • by Psion (2244) on Saturday June 21, 2008 @03:05PM (#23887383)
      Any readers who live in his district should give him a call and voice their opposition to the bill, reminding him we need hope and change from his office.

      The rest of us ... call your senators and tell them to vote no. [eff.org]

      Don't just grumble and complain here, make your voice heard where it really counts.
      • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Saturday June 21, 2008 @03:08PM (#23887421)
        I would, but like the other residents of the District of Columbia, we don't get a say in the matter.
    • Huffington Post/Newsweek, claims McCain Campaign Aides Steered "Secret" Campaign For Telecom Immunity [huffingtonpost.com]. Not that it's easy to find anyone in Washington without connections, but still.
    • by Shining Celebi (853093) on Saturday June 21, 2008 @03:30PM (#23887635) Homepage

      He's on the Senate committee that is responsible for them. He's going to vote for it, you can be assured.

      McCain voted for telecom immunity the first time around, so it would indeed be pretty hard to imagine him not voting for it now, especially with him ramping up his pro-administration rhetoric more and more, lately. His campaign has issued multiple statements that McCain wholeheartedly endorses telecom immunity. Here's to hoping Obama actually votes against this, and the Senate does something to block it -- although I doubt it, since the Senate is split evenly (49-49) between Democrats and Republicans, and most of the Democrats don't have the spine to be seen voting against something that's PROTECTING US AGAINST TERRORISTS OMG.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    no change

  • by modmans2ndcoming (929661) on Saturday June 21, 2008 @02:43PM (#23887149)

    This does not stop law suits. It gives telcos who have written requests from the government, dated after 9/11/2001, that state the president authorized the specific wire tap to not be liable.

    1)The telcos still have to go to court and file papers
    2)so many people were violated that there will be many many suits
    3)they have to have written proof that the president authorized it (not likely given the fact that Bush wanted to not be caught)
    4)there is evidence that Bush had been doing this domestic wire tapping before 9/11
    5)A judge still decides if the proof provided by the telcos meets the standard

    • by truthsearch (249536) on Saturday June 21, 2008 @02:46PM (#23887179) Homepage Journal

      6) Lawsuits lost because of this law may be appealed and this law will hopefully be found unconstitutional (because it is).

      • by Compholio (770966) on Saturday June 21, 2008 @02:49PM (#23887219)

        6) Lawsuits lost because of this law may be appealed and this law will hopefully be found unconstitutional (because it is).
        Even after they take out the retroactive immunity? That's the only unconstitutional part I've heard people talking about.
    • by Leftist Troll (825839) on Saturday June 21, 2008 @02:47PM (#23887191)

      Spin in however you like, no matter how you look at this, the Democrats caved. Pathetic.

      • Of course! (Score:5, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 21, 2008 @03:07PM (#23887403)

        Spin in however you like, no matter how you look at this, the Democrats caved. Pathetic.
        Caved? You say that almost as if the primary job task of a politician is to represent their constituency instead of doing political favors for wealthy special interest groups that contribute to their campaign coffers. I don't know how things work where you live but, in America, that's just not how things are done!
        • by Stew Gots (1310921) on Saturday June 21, 2008 @05:13PM (#23888685)

          (1) Obama turned down federal financing the other day.

          (2) He is totally reliant on private contributions to carry the campaign to the White House.

          (3) It is the internet fund raising that has brought in huge dollars for him.

          (4) Stop being adoring fans and start thinking like empowered citizens

          (5) Get on Reddit, Digg, twitter, Facebook, etc.: NO FURTHER CONTRIBUTIONS until Obama proves leadership on Telecom Immunity

          (6) Learn what it feels like to have real power.

      • True BUT (Score:5, Insightful)

        by snarfer (168723) on Saturday June 21, 2008 @03:42PM (#23887749) Homepage

        BUT it only gives immunity to wiretapping that started after 9/11. The program started before 9/11 - a few weeks after Bush took office, in fact. This was when the Bush people were ignoring terror threats so it was not about terrorists.

      • by CaptainPatent (1087643) on Saturday June 21, 2008 @03:42PM (#23887753) Journal

        Spin in however you like, no matter how you look at this, the Democrats caved to a bill overwhelmingly supported and started by Republicans. Pathetic.
        There we go - fixed.

        I don't know if that's a swipe against Democrats in general... but at least about half of them stood up and said no.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It was pointed out that this bill makes investigating what happened illegal. In order to bring a lawsuit, you need evidence don't you? If it's illegal to obtain evidence with an investigation wouldn't they attempt to throw out any lawsuit brought to them due to illegally obtained evidence?

    • by maynard (3337) <j,maynard,gelinas&gmail,com> on Saturday June 21, 2008 @02:54PM (#23887263) Journal

      What kind of checks and balances in a Republic is that? What federal branch of government does the Justice Department belong to? Who is the head of the Justice Department?

      This kills all of the lawsuits by quaffing each suit prior to the discovery process. All the AG must do is certify that the request for a wiretap came directly from him and the requirement for warrants - while still legally valid - can be ignored due to the fact that the outcome will never become public.

      The consequences of this legislation is exactly the opposite of what you say.

    • by stinerman (812158)

      Dude. They have the paperwork (#3). They admit they have the paperwork and so does the government. Where have you been?

      A judge gets to decide if the paperwork is authentic, but as I just said, we know it's authentic and every has already agreed that these letters exist.

      It's not immunity, but it might as well be.

  • Probably (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I'm not supporting McCain, but I did support Ron Paul.

    I would say it's likely Obama will vote for the bill whatever comes of it. Even though Obama talked about Civil Liberties, with the renewal of the Patriot Act all he really did was push for being kinder, gentler.... and most of those provisions were stripped out later on and he still voted for it:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USA_PATRIOT_Act#Reauthorizations [wikipedia.org]

    Obama also supports banning the burning of flags (which is also the proper way to get rid of a del

  • Again. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zombie Ryushu (803103) on Saturday June 21, 2008 @02:48PM (#23887199)

    I can't think of anything profound to say. I hate to be the bearer of hopelessness, but I think that the US is too far down the road to being a police state. There is no way this will get reversed. I don't see this thing being defeated in the Senate. There are too many powerful lobbies behind it. Sorry.

  • I'm done with giving Obama money. I want a return to constitutional governance, and supported him because I thought that's what he stood for. Apparently not. This has nothing to do with party politics and everything to do with the betrayal of rule of law by both political parties. They have eviscerated the fourth amendment without so much as a peep from the Supreme Court.

    This is getting very ugly. At this point the only hope for citizens to return to constitutional governance nonviolently will be for mass general strikes throughout the United States. Otherwise, everything our founders stood for in the creation of the Bill of Rights will be diluted to nothing before our eyes. I do not wish to live in a totalitarian United States of America.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by rolfwind (528248)

      Ron Paul and his supporters and trying to change the Republican Party. This will be a slow process, probably taking 5-15 years before we have significant leadership positions in that party (such is libery, eternal vigilance). We need people running on all levels:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlqXq8YxQFQ [youtube.com]

      • Paul and his minions can't do this on their own. You'll need to create a Libertarian / Liberal coalition to win this. IMO: Libertarians and Civil Rights activists have more in common than they have in opposition right now.

        http://www.actblue.com/entity/fundraisers/11689 [actblue.com]

        ActBlue appears to be attempting this type of Libertine/Liberal coalition. I've donated.

      • by _KiTA_ (241027)

        Ron Paul and his supporters and trying to change the Republican Party. This will be a slow process, probably taking 5-15 years before we have significant leadership positions in that party (such is libery, eternal vigilance). We need people running on all levels:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlqXq8YxQFQ [youtube.com]

        If Dr. Paul truly wishes to change the Republican party, he needs to lead an exodus from the Republican Party. The only way that party is going to stop being held sway by the people abusing it's unity is to temporarily fracture said unity to shake them out of their positions of power.

        This country could use a 3rd or 4th party, the 2 party system has some very big failings.

      • by Firehed (942385)

        Speaking of Paul, is it safe to assume that he was the one Republican that voted against the bill?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by n0-0p (325773)

          He didn't show up: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2008/roll437.xml [house.gov]

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by nmb3000 (741169)

          Speaking of Paul, is it safe to assume that he was the one Republican that voted against the bill?

          Of course it's not [house.gov]. As with all politicians, their number 1 priority is watching out for themselves.

          The sole Republican (aka the only one with balls) was Timothy Johnson (IL). Ron Paul (and our local hero, moron Chris Cannon from UT) abstained from voting at all. Considering that it's their job to read up on and vote on laws, and that's what we pay them for it would be nice if they actually did it.

          That said,

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by moosesocks (264553)

        Yes, but Ron Paul's interpretation of the constitution also seeks to overturn certain "norms" that have been around since the time of Alexander Hamilton (200+ years ago).

        Ron Paul is on the fringe, and always will be. There's no way on earth he's actually going to be able to convince the senate, and the rest of the US that the gold standard is a good idea.

        For a geeky point of comparison, Paul's a bit like RMS. He seems to have his heart in the right place, but is far too extreme to win over the hearts of t

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Intelligent people make decisions once a fact is confirmed. A blog post is not a fact nor is it confirmed. Try waiting for the vote.

      • http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/201032.php [talkingpointsmemo.com]

        He supports it. He supposedly opposes retroactive immunity, and once last October even declared that he would filibuster a FISA bill with immunity, but he appears to have changed his mind at the last minute.

        If he filibusters, perhaps I'll change my mind on donating to his campaign. But right now, he has signaled that he won't oppose this FISA bill - and further, he may even vote for it.

        If you're OK with that, I suggest you campaign for him. I'm not OK with tha

    • I'm done with giving Obama money. I want a return to constitutional governance, and supported him because I thought that's what he stood for. Apparently not

      same here, I used to be a strong supporter of Obama but as of late, that is no longer the case.

      This is getting very ugly. At this point the only hope for citizens to return to constitutional governance nonviolently will be for mass general strikes throughout the United States.

      indeed, however I do not believe that the general population cares enough to

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dreamchaser (49529)

      Why anyone thought Senator Obama was different is beyond me. Maybe it's just his incredible charisma and oratorical skill. He's a product of Chicago politics yet people act like he's the second coming. I'm sure I'll get modded down for this. Please note for the record that I have consistently said that both sides were dirty as hell. I'm a registered Independant who wanted to believe that someone different would come along. Obama isn't that someone. Neither is McCain. They are both politicians plain

    • by jeiler (1106393)

      They have eviscerated the fourth amendment without so much as a peep from the Supreme Court.
      The Supreme Court cannot so much as peep until and unless a case is brought before them.
    • At this point the only hope for citizens to return to constitutional governance nonviolently will be for mass general strikes throughout the United States.

      I was going to mod you "+1 Funny" -- then I realized you were serious.

      "Mass general strikes?" Sure, that's gonna happen. A majority of our people can't even be bothered to drag themselves to the polls once in a while, and you expect enough of them to make any small ripple of difference are going to participate in a general strike? Good luck with that. You DO understand, don't you, that the average U.S. citizen doesn't really think that any of these draconian laws and end runs around Constitutional gua

    • by tjstork (137384) <todd,bandrowsky&gmail,com> on Saturday June 21, 2008 @03:18PM (#23887525) Homepage Journal

      Here's the thing. I look at a lot of Obama supporters today and I see in them a lot of the same things I saw in myself when I was big into the Republican Party.

      The moral of the story is that you can't buy into any single party's message, and that you need to make either political party work hard for your vote. Nobody gets screwed over by a political party more than its most loyal supporters...

      We need to get past the game that we are being worked towards, where we see Democrats and Republican as enemies, and re-learn to appreciate each other as citizens. We need to tell ourselve that it is as ok to be a redneck with his cars up on blocks (that's me), as it is to be a gay couple getting married, that a man has as much right to own rifle as he does to burn the flag, that, we together have natural rights that encompass not just the bill of rights, but beyond them. And, we need to understand that when someone else is trying to get us caught up in a civil war of even a political sort, they are only doing so that in the cause of protecting us from these imagined fellow citizens as enemies, that they are taking the rights of everyone.

      • "a man has as much right to own rifle as he does to burn the flag"

        The way the U.S. government is going, I suspect that in due course, a man will have neither of those rights nor many others. The publics apparent view, that we only have the rights enumerated in the constitution, is appalling.

        On the one side you have the Democrats working to take away second amendment protections and bolstering copyrights to corporations by eliminating fair use and public domain, while on the other side you have the Republicans working to take away those pesky privacy rights and freedom of speech.

        Neither of these parties seem to represent the public in general and always they strive to expand government powers. It's a lose-lose.
    • by iluvcapra (782887) on Saturday June 21, 2008 @03:36PM (#23887691)

      I'm done with giving Obama money. I want a return to constitutional governance, and supported him because I thought that's what he stood for.

      He's only running for president, he ain't president yet, and it's out of his hands. If you're in his position, you've got the two options:

      1. Oppose the bill, giving McCain talking points and opening a rift in the Democrats, on account of the fact that Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and a majority of Democrats support the 'compromise.' Even with his opposition, the bill will still pass the Senate, and he will have handed the Republicans red meat for no gain whatsoever.
      2. Support the bill and live to fight another day. Politics is the art of the possible and occasionally you can't win. You just have to listen to his argument on why he doesn't like it and if you think he's a liar, and he DOES secretly want to listen in on your phone calls, than you probably shouldn't vote for him either. I don't think this is the case; if you read "Dreams from My Father" on living in Suharto's Indonesia you get a visceral sense for how he really doesn't dig police states.

      The simple fact of the matter is that Presidents, be they Bush, Clinton, Reagan, Nixon or FDR, can and do routinely break the law and violate the spirit if not the letter of the Constitution, and the only thing that really brings that to a halt is getting them out of office. So worst case, you only have 4 years of tyranny.

      Of course a lot of people don't seem to mind tyranny as long as gay people five states over are forbidden to marry, but that's a separate issue.

      Of course, as others have pointed out, this law just formalizes Bush's arrangement for his successor, so who would you rather have running such an empowered Justice department? Neither is best, but no strong majority of Americans choose "neither," and no amount of righteous Jefferson-quoting seems to change that. The Democrats did the math and they don't lose as many votes over this as they'd lose if they handed Bush another veto, again accomplishing nothing. I don't question their commitment for a second, it's just impossible to get anything past a President without 2/3 majority in the House and 60 votes in the Senate.

  • by Original Replica (908688) on Saturday June 21, 2008 @02:52PM (#23887229) Journal
    Obama will try to get the immunity provision removed, but failing that will vote for the overhauled wiretapping bill anyway.

    This is just another case where multiple issues are stacked into one bill, forcing legislators to either support something they don't want or vote against something they do want. Yes there is supposed to be a solid connection between all the parts of a bill, but legislators can't vote yea on one line item and nay on another and often time the connections between items on a single bill are tenuous. Tagging unpopular items to otherwise popular bills is one of the more common forms of corruption in our legislative process.
    • by div_2n (525075)

      Exactly. They turn into "damned if you do and damned if you don't" situations. If you vote for bill XYZ then you "vote to raise taxes" and if you vote against then you "fail to support the troops" or something like that.

      Personally, I would like to see a central database that requires Representatives, Senators and even the President to explain their vote/veto on each vote within 24 hours of their vote.

      Let them tell their side of the story in their own words at the time of the vote so later they can't come up

  • Immunity (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CaptainPatent (1087643) on Saturday June 21, 2008 @02:52PM (#23887231) Journal
    You know, as much as I don't like seeing the telco companies getting of completely, I must admit I blame the government more than the companies themselves.

    It was the government that started this whole ball rolling and the telcos were (more or less) just following orders.
    • by Adambomb (118938)

      It was the government that started this whole ball rolling and the telcos were (more or less) just following orders.
      Great, i'll be hearing "Cancer merchant! Cancer merchant!" for the rest of the day.
    • Re:Immunity (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tshetter (854143) on Saturday June 21, 2008 @03:01PM (#23887341)
      The government may have been the ones that asked, but the phone companies did their bidding, they though it was a good idea and went through with it. Only Qwest denies the requests, IIRC.

      I always hate the comparison...but 'i was just following orders' is not and never will be an excuse to do wrong.

      You say no, tell people what was wanted of you and keep saying it is wrong.

      This isnt some 3rd world shithole where this deal took place.

      There were phone calls and meetings between business men and US government officials. No one was going to be beaten, families raped, or killed for not following orders of the government.

      The worst threat anyone in the administration or government had was to TRY to threaten a loss of government contracts. I could also see planting of stories in the media possibly but not really likely...

      There was no down side to saying no to questionable requests. NONE.

      What the hell ever happened to Question Authority?


  • As much as I am against the wiretapping, it isn't actually wrong to make the telcos immune to something the government required them to do. The problem is that you can't realistically punish those in government who were responsible, but that isn't a reason to go after the telcos. Does anybody actually think they had much choice in the matter? You are talking about a government which has empowered itself with the ability to request sensitive information from people and then order them to stfu about it under

    • by Yaa 101 (664725)

      I call bull, they are not required to be supporting towards the execs, but they are required to uphold the constitution, just like anybody else.
      If the execs choose to become traitors it does not mean all should become.

    • You know what, I used to agree with you and I have argued very passionately that suing the telcos is just another way for the lawyers to get rich without accomplishing anything...

      but...

      I'm thinking that I want some accountability. I want names. I want search terms. I want to know who the government was searching for and why and we cannot trust that the government will tell the truth.

    • by stinerman (812158)

      They didn't require them to do anything. They asked. Qwest was the only telco that refused to help.

      Last I checked, Qwest wasn't brought up on "not doing the executive branch's bidding" charges.

  • by torstenvl (769732) on Saturday June 21, 2008 @02:57PM (#23887297)
  • The political climate currently will cause the brightest to leave the US and earn their money else were, leaving the US with only incompetent people in leader positions. I have given up already, the US is doomed at least for the current generation and need a lot of work and attention of future ones.

  • From reading the "statement", it seems like he is saying that it is more important to have the stricter penalties and a clearer law going forward than to worry about the cases that have already occurred. Personally, if I were in the senate right now and the two choices were "stop this from happening going forward, but let the first batch go through" and "nail the guys who did this, but continue to have this fight every time the issue comes up", I might just pick the future over the present. It seems like th

  • Civil vs Criminal (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 21, 2008 @03:22PM (#23887557)

    Something to keep in mind. On Olberman last night a constitutional law expert basically said that this law procludes the telcos from civil liability for their actions. This is obviously bad and stupid. However it doesnt proclude them from criminal liability. The problem is no criminal case will be allowed through the justice department under this administration. The only chance of that happening would be for a new administration to make it a priority. Now, simple question, what are the chances of a McCain administration doing so?

  • Scapegoats? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xelios (822510) on Saturday June 21, 2008 @03:41PM (#23887745)
    The Bush Administration are the real criminals in this case, why aren't they being held accountable? Everyone is gung ho about crucifying the Telco's, what about the people who ordered them to do the spying?

    While I don't agree with what they did, I can understand why the Teclo's agreed to the situation. The Bush Administration probably assured them that were the program ever exposed, they would be granted immunity, and in the mean time they made a fair bit of money off the illegal activities of the government. Both groups should be tried for their actions, but people should be much more upset with the government over this.
  • by pembo13 (770295) on Saturday June 21, 2008 @04:07PM (#23887993) Homepage
    What about 9/11/2001 is legally relevant? Ie, what makes wiretapping (or whatever it is being called) okay after that date?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rpillala (583965)

      The idea is that in the immediate days after the attack, things were so confused and frenzied that legal protections may have fallen by the wayside. The idea is to protect people who were overzealous due to the heat of emotion. That doesn't explain why HR 6304 provides lawsuit dismissal for a period of six years following the attack.

      That's the only thing that makes any kind of sense to me (I've read it in a few places.) Eliminating the basic principles that make America the land of the free seems more l

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Atario (673917)

      Didn't you hear? Something magical [americanfreepress.net] happened and the rule of law ceased to exist.

  • McCain (Score:5, Informative)

    by General Wesc (59919) <slashdot@wescnet.cjb.net> on Saturday June 21, 2008 @04:23PM (#23888139) Homepage Journal

    Anyone seen a position from the McCain camp?

    Sure have. Apparently, we shouldn't grant immunity to the telecoms [eff.org]--no, wait, I mean we should grant immunity to the telecoms. [eff.org] Of course, the wiretapping was legal anyway [eff.org], though on second thought maybe it wasn't. [eff.org]

    So there you have it: John McCain's stance on wiretapping and telecom immunity. hope that cleared things up for you. :-)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 21, 2008 @04:48PM (#23888411)

    Official House Roll Call for H R 6304
    http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2008/roll437.xml [house.gov]

    Breakdown of votes by state, representative, etc.
    http://www.govtrack.us/congress/vote.xpd?vote=h2008-437 [govtrack.us]

It seems that more and more mathematicians are using a new, high level language named "research student".

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