Seymour Hersh Accuses US of Nord Stream ‘Cover Up’

The veteran investigative journalist writes that Biden administration officials have been feeding the press false stories to “protect a president who made an unwise decision and is now lying about it.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz meeting with President Joe Biden on March 3, 2023, in Washington. (White House/Erin Scott)

By Jake Johnson
Common Dreams

In a follow-up to his explosive story accusing U.S. President Joe Biden of ordering the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines, veteran U.S. journalist Seymour Hersh charged Wednesday that the White House — in collaboration with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz — is attempting a “cover-up of its operation” by “feeding” false alternative narratives to the press, most prominently The New York Times.

Hersh’s initial reporting, which was based on anonymous sourcing, was quickly dismissed by the Biden administration, with State Department Spokesperson Ned Price calling the detailed February account “false” and suggesting that those who believe its version of events are “naive” and “gullible.”

[Related: Craig Murray: Sy Hersh & The Way We Live Now]

Hersh, who famously exposed U.S. forces’ massacre of Vietnamese civilians in My Lai and the torture of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, forcefully hit back at the Biden administration on Wednesday and criticized the American press for failing to push the White House on the September attack, which has major geopolitical implications.

“Press aides for the White House and Central Intelligence Agency have consistently denied that America was responsible for exploding the pipelines, and those pro forma denials were more than enough for the White House press corps,” Hersh wrote on his Substack.

“There is no evidence that any reporter assigned there has yet to ask the White House press secretary whether Biden had done what any serious leader would do: formally ‘task’ the American intelligence community to conduct a deep investigation, with all of its assets, and find out just who had done the deed in the Baltic Sea,” the journalist continued. “According to a source within the intelligence community, the president has not done so, nor will he. Why not? Because he knows the answer.”

[Related: German Lawmaker Calls for Nord Stream Probe]

Officials from Norway, Germany, and Sweden told the United Nations last month that they are still investigating the explosions that severely damaged the Nord Stream pipelines, setting off an environmental nightmare and immediate speculation as to who was responsible. Such speculation is ongoing, with both official and unofficial probes attempting to determine the perpetrator.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline — which Biden vocally opposed — never became operational, as the German government put it on hold just ahead of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.


During a press briefing late last month, Price said the U.S. “is not a party to this investigation because there are countries on whose sovereign territory this attack occurred, and we’re deferring it to them to conduct this investigation.”

On March 7, nearly a month after Hersh published his report, The New York Times ran a story — also based on anonymous sourcing — alleging that “new intelligence reviewed by U.S. officials” indicates “a pro-Ukrainian group carried out the attack on the Nord Stream pipelines last year.”

The Ukrainian government has denied any involvement in the attack.

Map of the explosions caused at the Nord Stream pipelines on Sept. 26, 2022. (FactsWithoutBias1, CC-By-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

“U.S. officials said there was much they did not know about the perpetrators and their affiliations,” notes the Times report, which makes brief mention of Hersh’s story and quotes unnamed U.S. officials denying any Biden administration involvement.

The same day as the Times published its story, the German weekly newspaper  Die Zeit ran a report alleging that German investigators “succeeded in identifying the boat that was allegedly used for the secret operation” to sabotage the Nord Stream pipelines.

[Related: SCOTT RITTER: The Nord Stream-Andromeda Cover Up]

“It is said to be a yacht rented from a company based in Poland, apparently owned by two Ukrainians,” Die Zeit reported. “According to the investigation, the secret operation at sea was carried out by a team of six people. It is said to have been five men and one woman.”

In his Wednesday piece, Hersh contended that the message of the Times and Die Zeit stories — both of which emphasized that much of the sabotage operation remains shrouded in mystery — “was that the press and the public should stop asking questions and let the investigators unravel the truth.”

“Holger Stark, the author of the report in Die Zeit, went a step further and noted that there were some ‘in international security services’ who had not excluded the possibility that the yacht story ‘was a false flag operation.’ Indeed, it was,” Hersh alleged, citing an anonymous source inside the U.S. intelligence community.

That source told Hersh that the yacht narrative reported by Die Zeit “was a total fabrication by American intelligence that was passed along to the Germans, and aimed at discrediting your story.” 

Hersh went on to add that “the disinformation professionals inside the CIA understand that a propaganda gambit can only work if those on receiving are desperate for a story that can diminish or displace an unwanted truth.”

“And the truth in question is that President Joe Biden authorized the destruction of the pipelines and will have a difficult time explaining away his action as Germany and its Western European neighbors suffer as businesses are shuttered amid high day-to-day energy costs,” wrote Hersh, citing an energy expert who argued that the damage to the Nord Stream pipelines “led to a further surge of natural gas prices.”

The New York Times building. (Thomas Hawk, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

According to Hersh, the “most telling evidence” of the “weakness” of the Times reporting can be found in a podcast interview featuring Julian Barnes, one of three reporters whose bylines appeared on the March 7 story.

Barnes told podcast host Michael Barbaro that “we know really very little” about the pro-Ukrainian group that the Times reporting alleges may have been behind the Nord Stream attack.

“This group remains mysterious,” Barnes said. “And it remains mysterious not just to us, but also to the U.S. government officials that we have spoken to. They know that the people involved were either Ukrainian, or Russian, or a mix. They know that they are not affiliated with the Ukrainian government. But they know they’re also anti-Putin and pro-Ukraine.”

In response, Hersh wrote that “the Times reporters in Washington were at the mercy of White House officials ‘who had access to intelligence.'”

“But the information they received,” he added, “originated with a group of C.I.A. experts in deception and propaganda whose mission was to feed the newspaper a cover story — and to protect a president who made an unwise decision and is now lying about it.”

Hersh also alleged that while it remains an “open question” whether Scholz was aware of the planned pipeline sabotage in advance, the German leader has “clearly been complicit since last fall in support of the Biden Administration’s cover-up of its operation in the Baltic Sea.”

Hersh wrote:

“In early March, President Biden hosted German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Washington. The trip included only two public events — a brief pro forma exchange of compliments between Biden and Scholz before the White House press corps, with no questions allowed; and a CNN interview with Scholz by Fareed Zakaria, who did not touch on the pipeline allegations. The chancellor had flown to Washington with no members of the German press on board, no formal dinner scheduled, and the two world leaders were not slated to conduct a press conference, as routinely happens at such high-profile meetings. Instead, it was later reported that Biden and Scholz had an 80-minute meeting, with no aides present for much of the time.”

Citing an anonymous official with “access to diplomatic intelligence,” Hersh wrote that “certain elements in the Central Intelligence Agency were asked to prepare a cover story in collaboration with German intelligence that would provide the American and German press with an alternative version for the destruction of Nord Stream 2.”

“In the words of the intelligence community,” Hersh continued, “the agency was ‘to pulse the system’ in an effort to discount the claim that Biden had ordered the pipelines’ destruction.”

Jake Johnson is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

This article is from  Common Dreams.

The views expressed in this article and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

38 comments for “Seymour Hersh Accuses US of Nord Stream ‘Cover Up’

  1. andy
    March 24, 2023 at 15:25

    Henry absolutely spot on from me too. Additionally, operation Gladio, stay-behind, the.greek dictatorship.

  2. Mike
    March 24, 2023 at 12:12

    A few comments on the comments:
    US ‘Intelligence’ (clearly localised): Soon after Homeland Security was set up, a Scottish Highland distillery was called up from USA and informed that their webcam of the whiskey still had been switched off. The caller was monitoring possible chemical weapons manufacture and was assured that the webcam would be back up and running soon. One can only wonder why they did not ask Sadaam’s uncle to set one up in the garage where he kept his tanker-load of anthrax.
    British ‘Power’: British govt is paying energy companies (for a while) to sell to consumers at reduced prices while loudly claiming it is applying windfall taxes. It has taxed British based companies but cannot touch Norway (pipeline), USA and Qatar (LNG). In order to avoid Russian gas (which has no chance of being delivered now), they are no doubt contracting long-term inflated prices with the above.
    Germany ‘Green and Socialist’: In order to avoid Russian gas (which has no chance of being delivered now), it is dealing with the above for future gas security. It has also re-opened coal-fired power stations, closed for environmental reasons, with its coal coming for distant Colombia, destroying vast swathes of indigenous lands and making the foreign extractors rich in the process.
    And their number two priority is ever increasing militarisation.

  3. Vera Gottlieb
    March 24, 2023 at 11:19

    And shame on German Chancellor Olaf Scholz…crawling up the Yankee rectum.

    • Valerie
      March 24, 2023 at 17:22

      Too funny Vera. LOL

  4. Anon
    March 24, 2023 at 02:28

    Rather than a Pulitzered (pre-Assange when Real News was honored) legendary reporter, we are to believe this hastily prepared and hardly credible account?
    Talk about your Winkin Blinkin ‘n Nod!
    Tnx Jake, CN for setting the record straight.

  5. Atul
    March 23, 2023 at 19:51

    Russia lost a lot of money building the pipeline and selling LNG to Europe, only to have it blown up.
    It doesn’t matter what the world thinks happened to Nordstream, it matters what Russia thinks.
    When the time is right, Russia will be able to serve a cold dish of revenge via sabotage of critical western infrastructure, and the US led West will have to heel, as both sides know who destroyed Nordstream, and fair is fair.
    Or it could lead to nuclear war, but I strongly doubt it as both East and West are in it for the money, and seem to want to live.
    They only let us minions die.

    • Patrick Powers
      March 24, 2023 at 10:37

      Fairness is not on the agenda.

  6. LeoSun
    March 23, 2023 at 16:52

    “Awh, Joey. Awh, Blinken. Nuland & Austin. Ugh, Price. Harris. Greenfield. Kirby. $ullivan & Rice. To the Top of The Hill, to the Hoorzzz of Congress, this Hou$e is “fired-up!” Hate & War is the currency.

    AND, the WH’s Agenda is to distract, desensitize, disappear dissent, from any plant, animal, human life from the social crises, i.e., murders, assassinations, explosions, food insecurities, toxic railroad box cars riding on rotting rails, soaring prices, staggering levels of poverty, over 1 Million dead per “The Rona;” dysfunction in the Airlines, the Supply Chain, NOT one NEW Bridge built back better, a malfunctioning MSMedia News forum, $ocial Media platforms gone rogue; and, WAR!!! WW3. That’s where “we” be. With an unspoken mandate, Do NOT Question the $upport for WAR$. “Whatever it takes.” In a unipolar world, Paz en La Tierra, is NOT on the Agenda. In a multipolar world, “POWER” is NOT dominated by one country but distributed among multiple countries.”

    Seymour Hersh the universe knows that “you were wrongly accused of being wrong. We hope you don’t lose your sense of humor. Allegations made in the”WH. The C.I.A., $enators, Hou$e of Reps, the MSMedia news Cons, $ocial Media patrons & “Anonymous,” “gossip in the dog park. Their bark is worse than their bite.”

    “There’s a lot of good people living in ”New York, D.C., L.A., Boston, Mass., etc. “YES, there are! AND, We won’t let nobody” disparage, diminish, disappear, your WORK! Investigative Journalism. “No, We Won’t.”

    You know, “they” have never been cool;” AND, “they” won’t be taking SEYMOUR HERSH for a fool. “IF, they wanna talk trash. They can talk, talk, talk. But, they better come correct. And, IF, we need to, we will come runnin’ straight to HERSH’S defense! Straight from the airport. We will cut through the customs line. We will bust down the courthouse doors.” Seymour Hersh we will TESTIFY: “IF, they were right, we would agree; BUT, they are as wrong as the day is long.“

    The WH wants to, “KEEP AMERICA, DUMB!”

    Too, LATE! We “GOT” the WHAT? WHEN? WHERE? WHO? WHY? & HOW?!? Everybody’s “GOT” it! And, “they,” the WH, M.I.C., C.I.A., Congress, “GOT” it, TOO @ “How America Took Out The Nord Stream Pipeline” hxxps://

    “The New York Times called it a “mystery,” but the United States executed a covert sea operation that was kept secret—until NOW.” SEYMOUR HERSH, 2.8.23

    AND, so, we work it out in a Song, i.e., “Sydney, I’ll come running.” Brett Denner hxxps://

    “Don’t let it bring you down!” Fugg ‘Em. “KEEP IT LIT!”

    • Valerie
      March 24, 2023 at 05:12

      Thankyou LeoSun for the song. I hadn’t heard it before. It’s a great tune and lyrics. Here’s one of the comments from the youtube video:

      “Why isn’t there a video and how come no one has ever heard of this guy? This song should have like 10 million hits.”

      (Btw, it was “earth water day” last Wednesday 22nd March)

  7. Lois Gagnon
    March 23, 2023 at 13:33

    No matter how much deflection, denial and obfuscation the intelligence bad boys direct at the public, this story is not going away. Anyone with a lick of sense knows the US is the culprit. No wonder we’re being distracted by the imminent arrest of the bad orange man. Could he and sleepy Joe wind up sharing a cell?

    • Jim Glover
      March 24, 2023 at 03:34

      War is a mess!

  8. Martin Stenzel (Cologne)
    March 23, 2023 at 13:27

    Let me answer as a citizen of Germany: I agree with you 100%. We are having our infrastructure destroyed, we are being bugged (a prominent recent example – Dr Merkel), we are being told how to behave, we are being given enemy images. Yet there seem to be only a few in the German population who are bothered by this – or they simply don’t know. One can only despair… However, the fear factor grows daily for me personally.

  9. CaseyG
    March 23, 2023 at 13:11

    Biden lied about Anita Hill too, and sadly there are too many Biden’s in the US government.

    I believe Seymour Hersh.

  10. Dave E
    March 23, 2023 at 12:55

    The Biden administration is missing a golden opportunity for self-promotion. “You can’t say Joe Biden never keeps his promises.” The one time he actually keeps a promise, he tries to beg off and deny it. What a loser!

    Seriously though, I think Scott Ritter brought up the best indictment of the quickly-cobbled-together counter-narrative, no decompression chamber – no story! The boat that the mysterious Ukrainians were supposed to have used wasn’t big enough for a decompression chamber.

    • Andrew Nichols
      March 24, 2023 at 02:57

      Exactly. To ANYONE that has even a peripheral understanding of the depths involved knows that the yacht story is risible. Western mainly white minority world media is shamelessly self neutered when it comes to dealing with this.

  11. Deniz
    March 23, 2023 at 11:56

    While the Left is chortling that they finally got Trump, War Crimes are completely ignored by our two tiered justice system, press and “Educated” Democrats. If Hitler was a US President, he would have spent his later years on book tours, guest appearances on CNN and MSNBC, erecting his Presidential library and working on his golf game.

  12. mgr
    March 23, 2023 at 11:16

    What is remarkable to me is how they came up with such an absolutely ludicrous cover story; a yacht of some sort with six people to handle around 4000 lbs of high explosive and support for extremely complex operations of many hours at a depth of up nearly 200 feet. It’s not a matter of trust and sources but physics. This is the US intelligence brain trust that concocted such a vacuous narrative? Is that desperation, panic, hubris or just plain silliness?

    Actually, I find it not so unbelievable that it is just incompetence. It’s just stunning to see how incompetent it actually is. Ray McGovern has made the point that the US intelligence services have been on a long trajectory to mediocrity transforming from intelligence experts seek truth and who tell-it-like-it-is to careerists, ideologues and political partisans who prepare analysis to fit the desired political narrative. Isn’t that exactly what we used to make fun of the old Sovient Union for doing? Now it’s us. It’s the reality of garbage in/garbage out, or perhaps, mediocre apparatchiks produce mediocre analysis for mediocre politicians. And again, these are the very people who would rule the world and if they cannot have that, they will burn it down.

    • Patrick Powers
      March 24, 2023 at 10:42

      Dupes, stooges, and minions aren’t bright bulbs. And smart people trapped in a loathsome system will sabotage it by pretending to be stupid.

  13. IJ Scambling
    March 23, 2023 at 11:05

    Saw an explosions expert on Napolitano a few days back, Sargeant Major (sorry don’t have the name; very nice guy, humble) who said it took 2000 kg of explosives to blow the pipelines. That’s approx 4400 pounds or more than two tons. How does that fit into the “yacht” story with its couple of divers?

  14. Promptcritical
    March 23, 2023 at 10:55

    A “pro-Ukrainian group” seems like a euphemism for the CIA, although the “six guys and a sailboat” explanation is so weak it seems like they actually wanted it to be not believed.

  15. IJ Scambling
    March 23, 2023 at 10:49

    This part of Hersh’s current report is not getting attention in the articles I’ve seen on this development.

    “Sarah Miller—an energy expert and an editor at Energy Intelligence, which publishes leading trade journals—explained to me in an interview why the pipeline story has been big news in Germany and Western Europe. “The destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines in September led to a further surge of natural gas prices that were already six or more times pre-crisis levels,” she said. “Nord Stream was blown up in late September. German gas imports peaked a month later, in October, at 10 times pre-crisis levels. Electricity prices across Europe were pulled up, and governments spent as much as 800 billion euros, by some estimates, shielding households and businesses from the impact. Gas prices, reflecting the mild winter in Europe, have now fallen back to roughly a quarter of the October peak, but they are still between two and three times pre-crisis levels and are more than three times current US rates. Over the last year, German and other European manufacturers closed their most energy-intensive operations, such as fertilizer and glass production, and it’s unclear when, if ever, those plants will reopen. Europe is scrambling to get solar and wind capacity in place, but it may not come soon enough to save large chunks of German industry.” (Miller writes a blog on Medium.)”

  16. Herman
    March 23, 2023 at 10:30

    Hersh, from hero beginning with Mai Lai to non entity today. Government told you it was a group of Ukrainians in a lot that did the dirty deed. When I first heard about the Ukrainians I posted “hilarious”. Now, watching the attempt to make Hersh a non-person is very telling. The paper of record performance is both pathetic and scary. In the matter of foreign policy and apolitical reporting, they are not a journalism paper but a rag that takes it instructions from “reliable” but unnamed sources.

  17. GBC
    March 23, 2023 at 10:15

    Nothing illustrates so dramatically the perilous state of the union, nor so clearly demonstrates what has long (if not always) been the true nature of the US of A. “Soft Fascism” comes to mind as a descriptor. How different are claims to be the “exceptional nation” from those of a certain European country in the 1930s? Only the time frame is less grandiose–“the American Century” vs the “Thousand Year Reich”.

  18. Packard
    March 23, 2023 at 09:19

    Occam’s Razor Question:

    Who are you more likely to believe on the Nord Stream pipeline who-done-it caper; Sy Hersh or President Joe Biden, Victoria Nuland, Sec. of State Antony Blinken, NSA Jake Sullivan, Sec. of Def. Lloyd Austin and all of the unelected players working today within the US State Department, CIA, Pentagon, FBI, and NSA?

    Indeed, who do you think is most likely telling the rest of us the truth on this vital matter?

    • Rebecca Turner
      March 24, 2023 at 04:24

      It’s not really a matter of trust. Hersh’s article should be tested on its own merits, and it is far from watertight – even if, on balance, it is likely that he is correct. There are numerous holes, such as his claim that Jens Stoltenberg was a CIA asset whilst he was a child.

  19. James White
    March 23, 2023 at 07:32

    Feeble Joe Biden relies on his belief that the average person is actually dumber than he is. Even the CIA has given up trying to cover for this fool. They are just mailing it in with this implausible nonsense. Just when you think that Olaf Scholz could not possibly appear any weaker, things go even worse for him. If Germans mind being humiliated and a laughing stock to the world, they haven’t said or done much to counter the perception. That is because Europe has gotten a free ride on national and continental defense since 1945 or so. It keeps them all on board for whatever bullying the U.S. wants to do anywhere else in the world. Call it battered wife syndrome or in this case more aptly Stockholm syndrome. The E.U. which constantly pumps itself up as relevant in all things worldwide, has never looked sillier.

    • Henry Smith
      March 23, 2023 at 09:40

      James. Re. “because Europe has gotten a free ride on national and continental defense since 1945”, this is only true if you buy into the story that Europe was actually at risk (from the USSR). IMO, the reality is that the USA has occupied Europe since WW2, and particularly Germany, primarily to prevent socialism breaking out. As well as boots on the ground, major institutions have been openly infiltrated to ensure European governments follow Uncle Sam’s agenda. Not so much a ‘free ride’ more of an unscheduled stay at an open prison. And, I guess that the Japanese also got one of Uncle Sam’s free rides !

      • mgr
        March 23, 2023 at 10:54

        Henry: Spot on.

      • James White
        March 23, 2023 at 11:03

        Henry, I see that we agree on the domination of the European vassal states by the U.S. since 1945. If the U.S. is in Europe to prevent Socialism, then it has failed for the most part. As Europe and in particular the E.U. are nothing if not Socialist. Letting the U.S. handle their national defense without having to pay for it, Europe has enjoyed a higher standard of living and that wealth has provided Europe with the ability to fund generous welfare and pension schemes. The price of this largesse from the U.S. has been obedience to U.S. hegemony around the world. War with Russia has never been of any benefit to Europe. So the Ukraine war has exposed the obsequiousness of European countries toward the U.S. in humiliating fashion. If the people of Europe have any voice, they are not being heard. It seems that Europeans have calculated that they are better off with their military protection and higher living standards, so they won’t complain. When the impact of the loss of cheap Russian energy begins to be felt, they may have some regret. But once you let another country defend you, you have lost your say in how the protector deals with you. This is the sad contemporary reality of once proud Europe.

        • Henry Smith
          March 24, 2023 at 19:15

          James, not to labour the point, I generally agree with your comments. However, my point is that the USA are essentially unwanted, invaders. Prison guards in effect. There are no benefits to the Europeans in having these foreign forces on their soil. And to be clear they are not free, they are invaders, acting outside of national laws, and the hosts are obliged to pay for their presence – directly and indirectly.

      • Miles
        March 24, 2023 at 01:02

        Well said Henry, I couldn’t agree more!

    • Blessthebeasts
      March 23, 2023 at 13:29

      It’s not the “average person” who is dumber than Feeble Joe. It’s the so-called “educated class” that believes that the propaganda from PBS, NPR, the NYT, et al is the gospel truth and won’t listen to any alternative view.

      • Valerie
        March 24, 2023 at 05:18

        That’s the scary part.

    • Tim N
      March 23, 2023 at 19:51

      How did they get a “free ride?” They’re paying and have been paying dearly for being a “friend” of the US. There was never a free ride–they were under no threats from anybody, except the US itself!

      • Tim N
        March 23, 2023 at 19:55

        Michael Hudson is right, as usual: the US has defeated Germany three times now in 100 years. He contends that the real target of the US proxy war was Europe in general and Germany imparticular.

    • Lisa Larsen
      March 24, 2023 at 01:08

      I’m so sick and tired of Americans saying that Europe got a free ride on defense. If it wasn’t for the war-mongering Americans, Europe wouldn’t need any defense! It’s the US who started the Ukraine proxy war.

      • James White
        March 24, 2023 at 09:45

        Ms. Larsen, Agreed that the U.S. started the Ukraine proxy war. Also true that defense has been provided by the U.S. to Europe since before 1945. It would be naive to think that Europe could have just lived in peace without any armed forces protecting it. It was beneficial for all NATO partners for a long time. The Biden Regime wrecked all of that with meddling in Ukraine. The E.U. played a central role with enticements to Ukraine to join the club of Europeans in the E.U. and NATO. This led Zelensky to gamble that he could drag a NATO country into his war with Russia. The E.U. and now also the U.S. responded by slow-walking arms and ammunition deliveries. Despite all of the propaganda about Ukraine having some chance to win, they must all know the reality. Of late, the Biden Regime has exacted a heavy price from Europe for it’s defense through rising inflation and energy prices and destroying Germany’s capability to trade with Russia. NATO and the E.U. continue to entice Ukraine toward Europe. But there is always a wide gap between what they promise to Ukraine and what they can and will deliver. Ukraine is the unfortunate pawn, sacrificed in a chess game between the U.S. and Russia. One million dead. Real human lives lost to satisfy some irrational hatred of Putin or deranged U.S. think tank fantasy. NATO countries have shown the quality and depth of their ‘friendship’ with other nations, and among themselves. Even the NATO Article 5 commitment is open to doubts. It used to be considered automatic. Now, not so fast… NATO is having an identity crisis. Will all of Europe re-arm or will it continue to let the Biden Regime destroy their economies and production capacity as tribute for the hegemonic protection racket.

    • Andrew Nichols
      March 24, 2023 at 03:01

      Scholz and Australia’s Albanese are vying for the title of 2023 gormless weak vassal of the year.

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