Haspel Could Be Subject to Arrest Abroad Under Universal Jurisdiction

Gina Haspel is the new CIA Director after the Senate voted on Thursday 54-44 to confirm her, with six Democrats agreeing. In this interview, Francis Boyle explains why Haspel could be at risk of arrest on trips abroad.  

By Dennis J Bernstein

Francis Boyle is professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. He is the author of many books on International Law and an outspoken critic of US policy in the Middle East. Boyle’s books include Foundations of World Order and the sequel, Destroying World Order. In the following interview with Pacifica Radio host Dennis J Bernstein, Boyle warns that, among other things, given her background as key implementer of the US torture program, Gina Haspel is vulnerable to be arrested for war crimes and crimes against humanity if she travels abroad.

Dennis Bernstein spoke with Francis Boyle on May 10th, 2018. [The transcript has been updated to reflect Haspel’s confirmation.] 

DB: [We now have a new ] a new CIA director who likes to get her hands dirty and participate directly in torture. She has also been actively involved in making sure nobody finds out that torture takes place.

Boyle: CIA is organized, criminal conspiracy.

FB: “Bloody” Gina Haspel is her nickname at the CIA. She was directly involved in the extraordinary rendition program, which is a euphemism for the enforced disappearance of human beings and their consequent torture. This was in the complaint I filed against Bush and company in 2010 with the International Criminal Court for this crime against humanity.

Last fall the ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said she is going to open up an investigation into the entire CIA extraordinary rendition program for violating the Rome Statute. Although the United States is not a party to the Rome Statute, these actions took place on the territorial sovereignty of Rome Statute states, and therefore the ICC does have jurisdiction. In my opinion, Gina Haspel is a presumptive war criminal and torturer. [We now] have a torturer and war criminal as head of the CIA.

As I have argued in anti-CIA cases here in the United States, the CIA is an organized criminal conspiracy like the SS and the Gestapo. We argued that successfully back in 1987 at University of Massachusetts, Amherst. I was involved in large numbers of CIA protest cases back in the 1980’s because of what was going on in Central America, with 35,000 dead in Nicaragua, 75,000 dead in El Salvador, and perhaps a quarter of a million in Guatemala. Most of those killed were Mayan Indians, which meant outright genocide.

DB: Will it be difficult for our director of the CIA to travel abroad? Maybe she has to be covert forever.

FB: That is correct. Under international law today–following a terrible decision by the International Court of Justice–heads of state and foreign ministers have diplomatic immunity while there are in office. But that is not going to apply to the head of the CIA.

I have a whole dossier here against Bush, Jr. and the rest of them for the extraordinary rendition program. We scared him out of Switzerland over that. A Swiss prosecutor demanded that Bush be prosecuted if he showed up in Switzerland. I know that Amnesty International and the Center for Constitutional Rights also have extensive dossiers against high-level US officials involved in these torture programs, including Haspel. She would be a sitting duck for international human rights lawyers. The evidence is there.

Haspel: Accountable for crimes she oversaw. (Screenshot from Today Show)

We have a 600-page executive summary of the Senate Foreign Intelligence Committee’s report on the extent of torture and extraordinary disappearances by the CIA. This is an official US government document. She was not personally named in there, but she was a high-level official who was personally involved. She certainly supervised the operation in Thailand. Under international law, there is a command responsibility. She is denying that she herself physically tortured anyone, but she supervised others doing the torturing. Under international criminal law, she is accountable for the criminal behavior she oversaw.

DB: She admitted at the hearing that she had the tapes of these torture sessions but she considered it prudent to destroy them.

FB: The Senate Committee had just announced their investigation so her boss, Jose Rodriguez, ordered her to destroy the tapes. Arguably, this would be obstruction of justice. [We now have] a notorious international criminal heading up the CIA. In my opinion, any senator who vote[d] to confirm her [became] an accessory after the fact to her crimes: torture, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and violations of the Geneva Conventions and the Convention against Torture.

DB: This is a very difficult time. We are all worried about our friend Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst who was brutalized while protesting the Haspel nomination. Obviously, they are very serious about shutting up anyone protesting torture.

FB: Ray arguably has the defense of prevention of crimes under international law. I am not saying it would be a winner, because it is always tough going into a federal court and defending anyone protesting and resisting criminal behavior by the United States government.

Dennis J. Bernstein is a host of “Flashpoints” on the Pacifica radio network and the author of Special Ed: Voices from a Hidden Classroom. You can access the audio archives at www.flashpoints.net. You can get in touch with the author at [email protected].

48 comments for “Haspel Could Be Subject to Arrest Abroad Under Universal Jurisdiction

  1. Tom
    May 22, 2018 at 13:38

    She should be arrested. But will she? No. Why? Because if she was, immediately the US would do several things:

    They’ll cut you off from shared intelligence.
    They’ll recall their ambassador.
    They’ll hit you with sanctions.

    The US says that it has a “special relationship” with many countries. But the only one it doesn’t spy on is the UK. In the early ’70s, it overthrew the Australian govt. because Geoff Whitlam was deemed to be “too radical”. By order of Jimmy Carter.

  2. Abe
    May 20, 2018 at 13:21

    “An American doctor and Naval reserve officer who has done extensive medical evaluation of a high-profile prisoner who was tortured under the supervision of Gina Haspel privately urged Sen. Mark Warner, the vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, to oppose Haspel’s confirmation as CIA director […]

    “Dr. Sondra Crosby, a professor of public health at Boston University, wrote to Warner’s legislative director […]

    “Crosby told Senate staffers that the CIA’s ‘methodology consisted of strategic assaults – multiple traumas inflicted simultaneously, as well as consecutively, in a manner designed to instill terror and maximize harm in the prisoners.’ The interrogation program, she stated, showed that ‘torture is not just a crime of physical violence, but a way of destroying someone’s humanity.’ Crosby added: ‘It is important to note that the barbarity of the torture methods used were shrouded and concealed in sterile euphemisms.’

    “In the briefing, Crosby described the torture in graphic, albeit unclassified, terms:

    “‘The terror of being kept naked in pitch-black, shackled to the ceiling while music blared, covered in urine and feces while insects crawled on their bodies, in dank cells that were freezing cold or unbearably hot. The horrific conditions in between interrogations were in some cases as bad as the interrogations. These torture methods were inflicted for hours and days, for weeks at a time, over the course of years. The men became disoriented with no sense of when the abuse would stop. Some of the men wished for death.’

    “She concluded her briefing: ‘The devastating human cost to this torture program cannot be overstated. Unfortunately, this toll is largely hidden due to ongoing secrecy and control that the CIA exercises. This is what I can say due to security restrictions.’

    “Crosby, who is currently at the Guantánamo prison examining Nashiri, told The Intercept that she could not offer further details because they are classified and, for the same reason, cannot speak about Haspel’s specific role in Nashiri’s torture. However, a brief prepared by Crosby’s organization, Physicians for Human Rights, asserts:

    “‘The CIA site in Thailand formed the blueprint for the rest of the CIA torture program. After her assignment there, Haspel continued to hold senior operational roles in the program, where presumably she would have been in a position to know about other abuses at other sites. Moreover, she was an enthusiastic supporter of the program and worked to protect it from criticism. This included drafting a cable ordering the shredding of videotapes depicting torture sessions, despite a court order staying their destruction. This act of cover-up should have led to Haspel’s dismissal – and should most certainly disqualify her from the role of leading the CIA.’

    On Monday, The Intercept reported that a senior Warner adviser wrote an email to Democrats on the Intelligence Committee informing them that a classified memo compiled by the committee’s minority staff and aimed at examining Haspel’s full involvement with torture and destruction of evidence was removed from the Senate.

    U.S. Navy Reserve Doctor on Gina Haspel Torture Victim: “One of the Most Severely Traumatized Individuals I Have Ever Seen”
    By Jeremy Scahill

    • LarcoMarco
      May 20, 2018 at 14:05

      Whose letter to Democratic “Sen. Mark Warner, the vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee…” should carry the most weight?

      a. “An American doctor and Naval reserve officer who has done extensive medical evaluation of a high-profile prisoner who was tortured under the supervision of Gina Haspel…”

      b. A unbiased submission on The Director – CIA letterhead from the nominee herself, claiming torture did yield “valuable intelligence”

  3. Dick
    May 18, 2018 at 18:50

    The Haspel confirmation is the final nail in the coffin of the US. The country has now confirmed its descent into the mire of decadence and death of all it ever claimed to stand for.

    • evan jones
      May 28, 2018 at 14:15

      Dick, I agree, you are very right, but I have to say it didn t just happen. The US has been doing the devils work for a very long time, the only difference is that now they do it in plain sight. In my opinion, the CIA in 1945 became the Gestapo, in fact took over the Gestapo, they began supporting the Nazis almost immediately throughout Central and South America. US foreign policy ever since has revolved around Nazi principles [ or lack of them ] its very sad, but now maybe the good citizens of America will rise up, and retake their country, or as Mr Trump calls it, “drain the swamp”

  4. Rael Nidess, M.D.
    May 18, 2018 at 17:56

    “Haspel Could Be Subject to Arrest Abroad Under Universal Jurisdiction” – Right!! There she’ll join, Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Obama, Kerry, Clinton, Rice (Susan), Power, Netanyahu, Olmert, Livni, Sharon, Barak, Blair, and a host of other war criminals serving time in the Hague for their crimes against humanity. Oh, wait! I forgot, none of them are from Africa.. Goal!!

  5. voza0db
    May 18, 2018 at 17:44

    I’d gladly pay one euro to see that happening!

  6. Realist
    May 18, 2018 at 16:46

    I wouldn’t expect the captive nations of Europe or anywhere else to raise a finger against their brutal Washington masters. They won’t do so to protect their own economic interests, their national sovereignty or the lives and safety of millions that the imperial regime savagely attacks on a daily basis. None of them are about to stick their head into the lion’s mouth to protest ancient fait accomplis. They’ve been allowing Washington to literally get away with murder for decades. In fact, they’ve been complicit, and are not about to endure major blow back just to piss off Washington. As PCR would say, there are always more pallets of crisp new $100 bills to assuage their consciences.

    • Sam F
      May 18, 2018 at 17:14

      You may be right, although the US is ever weaker in trade and finance, and ever more foolish in alliances and militarism due to those pallets of bills from Israel/KSA/WallSt/MIC et al to our corrupt DemReps. I’m hoping that the US demand that Europe buy into our zionist losses at the expense of trade will kill NATO and isolate the US within ten years, although just a first step to restoration of democracy here.

      If we had a democracy, a law discounting US bonds in proportion to their support of unconstitutional wars would dampen sales a bit, but of course we have a long way to go to restore democracy.

  7. Andy Jones
    May 18, 2018 at 14:43

    If any country took the director of the CIA hostage, the US would treat it as an act of war. Any country claiming jurisdiction over another sovereign country would be engaging in a contest of force against that country.

    • Sam F
      May 18, 2018 at 16:57

      Yet an arrest and prosecution by the ICC, triggering a US military attack on the Hague under the ASMPA, would mark an historic rift separating the US from its erstwhile allies. If the US is so foolish, it will never lead the West again, a major step forward for the US as well as the EU. If it tries more sanctions, it will lose trade forever.

  8. May 18, 2018 at 13:44

    Yep, Skip, we will see what they do, I’m rooting for Europe to stand up to the bully! So many things are happening to crack open and expose the horrors the US hegemon has unleashed on the world. And Israel, too, more is being exposed about Gaza.

    • Joe Tedesky
      May 18, 2018 at 14:04

      I have always felt that a free Europe could be pivotal, and it could be the turning point to the end of the American Empire.

  9. May 18, 2018 at 13:15

    Haspel joins the politico mobsters that have run the US since the days of Allen Dulles, anyway, she’s just a female rep. However, there’s good news from outside our matrix. The EU just met today (Friday morning) to work out a plan to use their “blocking statute” to oppose the US in putting sanctions on them for upholding the Iran deal. Statements about standing up to the “bully” have been made by Juncker and Tusk. And now, Italy’s new government reps gave a statement that sanctions on Russia should be lifted immediately, that Russia plays a significant role in combatting terrorism and also is a big economic player. I’m putting my meditative energy into the world for stopping the monster US, and brazen-mouthed Trump has played the necessary role to wake up the world. Websites like CN and so many other alternative ones are waking up people. The Senate voted to uphold net neutrality, and now it goes to the House. I am hopeful.. We need to keep speaking up!

    • Skip Scott
      May 18, 2018 at 13:18

      Thanks for the good news Jessika! You’ve made my day.

    • Joe Tedesky
      May 18, 2018 at 14:02

      From everything I’ve read Italy took a beating due to the sanctions imposed on Russia, because half of their produce exports were to Russia. In fact an article should be found explaining to how devastating these sanctions have been to our allies in the overhaul picture. So mean spirited, so terribly unnecessary, over so much lying. I think it was Tusk who I read said, ‘with friends like the U.S. who needs enemies’. Well said.

    • Sam F
      May 18, 2018 at 16:53

      Very true, the “brazen-mouthed Trump has played the necessary role to wake up the world.”

  10. Clooney's Gerbil
    May 18, 2018 at 12:47

    It all goes back to 911. But, we’re not supposed to talk about that.

    • Paul G.
      May 19, 2018 at 20:56

      757s and 767s can be flown remotely; this is the most plausible explanation for the idea that Cessna trained pilots could fly complex jet aircrafts into the two buildings. Also the airspeed claimed was a mistake, at sea level the wings on those planes would come off at that speed due to the denser air even if they could get going that fast.

  11. Joe Tedesky
    May 18, 2018 at 11:39

    What is the scariest part in all of this talk about Haspel and CIA torture programs, is the majority of the American public agrees with the retention methods the U.S. has used, or is still using. No time for self reflection, or any strict observance of morality to be concerned with, because we got to keep ourselves safe from those evil Muslim terrorist. This national mindset is to be squarely blamed on our American MSM. We should also put the burden of irrelevance to stay uninformed on the American public who prefers to be locked away in the dark, because it’s easier that doing something about it. It’s too darn bad an American news junky got to work so hard to read the truth, is my biggest complaint. But here we now are, whether reluctantly or eagerly, putting a war criminal in charge of our CIA…so what else is new?

    • Padtie
      May 18, 2018 at 17:52

      Yes, Joe. On another web-site I commented that Haspel is a war criminal. To which another person incredulously posted, to effect, that then most US citizens, by virtue of their agreement with those torture methods, were also war criminals. My response: Truth is a bitter pill to swallow.

    • Ol' Hippy
      May 19, 2018 at 12:06

      Yeah, what else is new in the criminal enterprise known the world around as the USA? Well, no more pretenses, the spooks are running the show as they have been since the last war.(WW II) Bush I was a spymaster so nothing new there. Yale graduates the most spies and I’m guessing their skull&bones secret club has something to do with it. Remember these are speculations as my front door remains on its hinges. +++!!

  12. Jeff
    May 18, 2018 at 10:19

    Sadly, she will never be tried for her crimes. Italy put out an international arrest warrant for the former CIA head of station in Italy who was involved in the rendition of some Islamic cleric that was executed somewhere in Central America if I remember rightly. But, of course, the US had him out of jail and whisked back to the US before you could say the day after tomorrow.

    It’s hard for me to imagine that my country could sink so low.

  13. Kalen
    May 18, 2018 at 09:36

    If they were serious they would arrest her in EU. BUT THEY ARE NOT only blabbermouthing.

    The prosecutor judge from Spain who issued warrants for arrest of Cheney and Ramsfeld and Pinotchet was attacked and illegally removed from office by Spanish politicians. For what? That he supposedly violated Spanish law of NOT ALLOWING FOR INVESTIGATING ANY FASCIST FRANCO’S CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY!

    Which he did not but some threads of investigation led to connection between Pinochet and US officials with Falanga fascist party that continued fascist tradition in Spain after 1975.

    Who dares to apply obvious law to case overwhelmed with already gathered irrefutable evidences.

    Nobody from EU fascist regimes. Law is not for powers that be it is for weak as cheap way of enforcing political regime and it shows in such cases.

  14. Bob Van Noy
    May 18, 2018 at 09:16

    This is a damming vote plain and clear, by confirming Gina Haspel the U.S. government has officially approved of torture.

    Here is the official Senate vote:


  15. F. G. Sanford
    May 18, 2018 at 09:03

    There is a long list of countries she can visit without concern for her safety: Albania, Angola, Austria, Cameroon, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Georgia, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Kenya, Macedonia, Burma, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Romania, Rwanda, Serbia, South Sudan, Thailand, Ukraine, Vietnam, Paraguay, Tanzania and Zambia. Note that this was also the “guest list” for the opening of the new U.S. Embassy to our most important “ally” and the “only democracy in the region”. Probably those other paragons of “democracy” and “western values” are safe too: Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, and an assortment of others. Hey, speaking of embassy openings, did anybody catch Joe DiGenova’s remarks on WMAL Radio? He noted that Germany wouldn’t attend, then added, “Leave it to the Krauts, the country that brought us the Holocaust, to blow off a peaceful ceremony”. I used to really like Joe D, but I guess deep down, he’s just another Neocon. All the Neocon “made men” (and women) are now fully integrated into Washington’s Neo-Cosa Nostra. Bada-bing! No discussion today of the Netherlands Invasion Clause, though. That’s the law passed under Bush that authorizes military action against The Hague if they try to prosecute an American citizen for war crimes. And no, I’m not making that up.

    • Skip Scott
      May 18, 2018 at 13:23


      I’m shocked about DiGenova. I’d have thought better of him as well.

    • Sam F
      May 18, 2018 at 16:47

      Yes, the countries represented at the Jerusalem ziofascism convention are largely those of US antisocial(ism) wars and interventions. The American Service-Members’ Protection Act 2002 threatens the Hague with military attack if it prosecutes US military or government personnel for war crimes. Provoking such an attack would be a great service to the world in understanding the collapse of democracy in the US. On with the prosecutions!

    • Joe Tedesky
      May 18, 2018 at 20:58

      It’s because of comments like DiGenova’s that I won’t join one side over the other. In other words they are all bad. Interesting that whether it be Donald allegedly colluding with the Russians, or Hillary gaming the system to sell Russia a percentage of our U.S. uranium stock, that in the end both sides serve the same agenda. So again when it comes to choosing a side leave me out. I’ll be the one sitting on the bench waiting on new players to play the game.

      • Skip Scott
        May 19, 2018 at 10:02

        Well said Joe. Sometimes there is no one to root for.

        • Ken
          May 19, 2018 at 11:38

          Why would you say that given that Jill Stein clearly represents the people’s values?
          Her omission as a valid candidate punctuates the efficacy of the US government’s propaganda stream.

          • LarcoMarco
            May 20, 2018 at 14:42

            KillBillious has indeed smeared Jill Stein so that the latter can never again be a viable candidate.

            ‘Jesse Ferguson, a former Clinton campaign spokesman, said Americans ought to know if a presidential nominee, no matter how minor, had become a Russian asset or was simply boosted in an effort to chip away Democratic votes from Mrs. Clinton.’

            “Russian operatives were not promoting Jill Stein because they thought she would win,” Mr. Ferguson said. “They were promoting her because they thought it would hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump.”

    • Erratumlet
      May 19, 2018 at 19:39

      Actually, “The Hague Invasion Act” is a former fact. Chomsky popularized it a couple of decades ago. The Hague invasion provisions proved too embarrassing, and they got repealed.

      Just goes to show that the US government is more sensitive than you think to international embarrassment and disgrace. International embarrassment and disgrace also forced reform of human experimentation for capital punishment, psychological torture by solitary confinement, and criminalization of the homeless. So instead of wasting time petitioning US government apparatchiks, you might as well go over their heads to the treaty bodies, charter bodies, and special procedures where the US faces public international disgrace.

      • Sam F
        May 20, 2018 at 13:28

        No, the American Service-Members’ Protection Act 2002 is still in effect.
        If you have more recent info, please be specific. Here is Cornell Law library on that:

        see https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/22/chapter-81/subchapter-II

        22 USC Ch 1 Subchapter II § 7427
        (a) Authority
        The President is authorized to use all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release of any person described in subsection (b) who is being detained or imprisoned by, on behalf of, or at the request of the International Criminal Court.

  16. mike k
    May 18, 2018 at 08:12

    Everyone in the US government, which government is part of an international Mafia, is either a direct participant in or abettor of criminal behavior. We are ruled by a gang of shameless criminals who pretend to be innocent. Who will bring these thugs to justice? The so called justice department is run by these crooks. The laws are written by the same evil doers, who own the police and imprison anyone daring to expose their crimes – like Manning and Assange and Snowden. The biggest Mafia in the world is the US government. The little Mafias take over neighborhoods, or even a whole city, but this US Mafia aims to rule the entire world by force and deceit. How can this global Mafia be brought down?? This is our life or death problem now………

    • LarcoMarco
      May 19, 2018 at 00:46

      “The laws are written by the same evil doers, who own the police and imprison anyone daring to expose their crimes – like Manning and Assange and Snowden.”

      Let’s not forget John Kiriakou, who blew the whistle on the CIA’s waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah. The video recordings of the latter’s torture sessions in Thailand were ordered destroyed by Gina Haspel.

      Therefore, it is hard to see “how can this global Mafia be brought down”, when severe punishment awaits the truth-tellers coming out from within.

  17. May 18, 2018 at 07:04

    Interesting article at link below.
    America’s ‘War on Terror’ Has Cost Taxpayers $5.6 Trillion
    And it’s earned us absolutely nothing.
    By Tom Engelhardt
    MAY 16, 2018

  18. Sam F
    May 18, 2018 at 06:50

    Indeed the destruction of democracy in the US has led it to oppose rather than lead moral international law. We lost democracy to unregulated economic power, to campaign bribes and control of mass media by the zionists, with some help from bribed MIC/WallSt. Without fair elections and a free press we lack the tools of democracy, and it is gone. The people must learn, by boycotting all mass media, and must rebuild US government.

  19. May 18, 2018 at 06:16

    “Respectable” gangsters do not “Arrest” “respectable” gangsters. If they did, who would run “the system”?
    When Gangsters Are In Control

    When gangsters are in control, endless wars slaughter millions of souls
    And countries are destroyed by the hit men of the gangster ghouls
    The unethical money changers finance their dirty depredations
    And corporate cannibals profit from the bloody confrontations

    Government by gangsters is now “the rule of law”
    And “justice” is in the hands of criminals and outlaws
    The language is twisted and debased
    To suit these evil demons of the “human race”

    Fancy titles and Houses of ill repute
    Is where these villains consort and debut
    Making “laws” to screw the masses
    Yet, people continue to vote for these asses

    If there really was “law and order”
    These gangsters would be charged with genocide and murder
    Instead these war criminals parade on the world stage
    When they should be in a big enormous prison cage

    They sell arms and weapons to bloody head choppers
    They don’t know the meaning of improper
    Grovelling and saluting financiers of terrorism
    They are in bed with the dictators of barbarism

    Such is the sick state of the world today
    And much, more could be said, of the gangsters’ way
    Evidence abounds of these criminals roles
    That’s why we know gangsters are in control…
    [more info at link below]

  20. jazza
    May 18, 2018 at 03:39

    Once again amereeka proves it has no soul – how many more criminals do the people want/ need to lead them?????
    Amereeka should now be sanctioned by the whole world – enough is enough

  21. Mild - Facetious
    May 18, 2018 at 01:47

    Who Are Cambridge Analytica?
    And, why can’t we torture them?


    • Avril
      May 18, 2018 at 16:46

      It’s the CIA, Cambridge Uni is the recruiting ground for them. Cambridge Intelligence Analysis.

      • Avril
        May 18, 2018 at 16:48

        Yep, they think we’re all stupid.

  22. Emily Tock
    May 18, 2018 at 01:47

    Proof of moral bankruptcy in the legislative and executive branches.

    • john wilson
      May 18, 2018 at 03:48

      We never needed proof, we’ve known it for years.

    • Sam F
      May 18, 2018 at 06:44

      It is very well proven also in the judicial branch and mass media.

  23. Mild - Facetious
    May 18, 2018 at 01:38

    Fascism and the dangers of economic concentration

    Haspel cut from the cloth of Fascist ideology

    She is Whole Cloth theoretically Adolf/Freud.


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