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Why hasn't America been attacked since 9/11?
March 5, 2009 11:37 PM   Subscribe

Why No More 9/11s? An interactive inquiry about why America hasn't been attacked again.
posted by homunculus (60 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Maybe they figure they've won. Didn't Bin Laden want to destroy the US economy?
posted by ryanrs at 11:53 PM on March 5, 2009 [13 favorites]


BECAUSE THE MISSION WAS ACCOMPLISHED, DUH!?
posted by Effigy2000 at 11:59 PM on March 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


Christing fuck, no wonder the administration reacted so extremely. They were trying to cover their collective asses. I still can't believe we* gave them more power and control in response to this level of incompetence.

Didn't Bin Laden want to destroy the US economy?
Sure, he wanted to, but arguably he only dented it. That is, unless Bin Laden was the grant puppeteer behind the reckless, greedy, and arrogant investors and ivy league graduates managing hedge funds and packaging unwise mortgages as legitimate investments.

(* more precisely, our elected representatives)
posted by spiderskull at 12:18 AM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bin Laden was the grant puppeteer behind the reckless, greedy, and arrogant investors and ivy league graduates managing hedge funds and packaging unwise mortgages as legitimate investments.

That devious motherfucker!
posted by ryanrs at 12:20 AM on March 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


So, can we go back to the Cold War now? It was so much quieter, and they had such nice toys.
posted by loquacious at 12:20 AM on March 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


The destruction of physical assets was estimated in the national accounts to amount to $14 billion for private businesses, $1.5 billion for state and local government enterprises and $0.7 billion for federal enterprises. Rescue, cleanup and related costs have been estimated to amount to at least $11 billion for a total direct cost of $27.2 billion.[1]
LOL. I remember when $30B was a lot of money.

To put 9/11 in perspective it was about as damaging as a major hurricane or two.

Pretty impressive for a team of 20 to pull off and not easy to duplicate without a nuclear device.

Cost of the Iraq War, $600B so far, plus a trillion or two down the road. Quite an expensive hanging there, guys.

The 2009 defense budget was over $700B, doubled from the last Clinton budget. "Mission Accomplished" there, too.

Then there was the four trillion of bad lending that went on 2002-2006.

The Bush Administration presided over economic damage arguably two orders of magnitude greater than the direct costs of 9/11. Bush Derangement Syndrome indeed.
posted by troy at 12:22 AM on March 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Because of the rock that keeps tigers away.
posted by Artw at 12:23 AM on March 6, 2009 [6 favorites]


When's the next attack? Somebody ask Jim Cramer!
posted by orthogonality at 12:44 AM on March 6, 2009


Because Diebold didn't win the air defense contract?
posted by rokusan at 12:44 AM on March 6, 2009


Didn't Bin Laden want to destroy the US economy?

Going swimmingly so far!
posted by telstar at 12:44 AM on March 6, 2009


Because they fooled us once--shame on them--and if they fool us twice...uh, you fool us, we can't get fooled again!
posted by bhatman at 12:54 AM on March 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


At this point, its more fun to watch "the infidels" bleed to death from self inflicted economic wounds.
posted by 5imian at 12:57 AM on March 6, 2009


There's some neat stuff in here. The fifth essay ("Flypaper") in the linked article (you clowns are RTFAing, right?) has a pithy summary of the Invasion of Iraq in five easy points, better-presented than in pretty much any news reporting of the last decade.

Although sometimes mistaken for a strategy, this is, in fact, an after-the-fact justification.
posted by rokusan at 1:08 AM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sure, he wanted to, but arguably he only dented it. That is, unless Bin Laden was the grant puppeteer behind the reckless, greedy, and arrogant investors and ivy league graduates managing hedge funds and packaging unwise mortgages as legitimate investments.

He helped keep Bush in power — or his image did. That alone, arguably, has done most of the damage the economy, through lax oversight and insane financial policies.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:11 AM on March 6, 2009


I also like Slate's eight-smiley-faces system, and suggest we adopt it to replace the color-coded alert levels.

It answers the question "How afraid should we be today?" more honestly, I think.
posted by rokusan at 1:19 AM on March 6, 2009


Once you've hit the jackpot, why bother continuing to play the lottery.
posted by fullerine at 1:51 AM on March 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


For sure. Once the depth charge is in the death star, that's the end of the movie, right?
posted by telstar at 2:05 AM on March 6, 2009


I suspect partly it was because of the fear that another 9/11 would have led to WW3, possibly nuclear WW3, under the Bush administration.

What hurt most about 9/11 for me is it showed how shit-scared the average US citizen is, how ignorant, selfish and thoughtless we are. Though it's probably been apparent to independent observers that we weren't the nation of brave people we like to think we were for some time prior, our reaction just sealed the verdict that we're spineless.

In a way, Bush's stupid "Bring it on!" was the right attitude, executed exactly the wrong way. It should have meant "fuck you, assholes, we're going to right on with our lives here, and while we're going to try and track you down and bring you to justice in a fair trial, we're not going to panic like little children, we're not going to lash out violently at random targets which had nothing to do with the attacks; no, we're going to rub what it means to be a free and open society in your face and go on living our lives after a short pause to remember the dead."

Instead, war, torture, domestic spying, PATRIOT bullshit, the frighteningly nazi-esque (or Stalinist) Department of Fatherland Security, security theater, racist fear mongering, Blackwater, billions of dollars missing, parents losing sons, children losing dads, endless national debt, good people--citizens!--who "look like them" getting endlessly hassled, loss of goodwill worldwide...the list goes on and on.

What a fucking joke.

posted by maxwelton at 2:50 AM on March 6, 2009 [37 favorites]


it showed how shit-scared the average US citizen is, how ignorant, selfish and thoughtless we are.... we weren't the nation of brave people we like to think we were for some time prior, our reaction just sealed the verdict that we're spineless.

You realize that many people think that the Iraq invasion was about being brave and showing the world who was boss, right? That the invasion was in fact the USA demonstrating a spine?

At least that's how I read the bumper stickers.
posted by rokusan at 2:55 AM on March 6, 2009


Well, i stopped reading at
When no second terrorist attack occurred in 2001
If the author doesn't even remember the Anthrax in the mail..
posted by vivelame at 3:27 AM on March 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


You realize that many people think that the Iraq invasion was about being brave and showing the world who was boss, right? That the invasion was in fact the USA demonstrating a spine?

By proxy, I guess? I mean, even a few moments checking would have showed that Iraq had nothing to do with the attack. Shooting a guy you've had a grudge against when an unrelated person insults you isn't being brave, it's being a dick.
posted by maxwelton at 3:35 AM on March 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


In this new era of sustainability, the terrorists are saving some for their children and their children's children. Something for the junior terrorists that America is helping to create at this moment. No decent terrorist wants his child to look up into his eyes and ask, "Daddy, what was an imperialist American pig?"
posted by pracowity at 3:36 AM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I go with the Why Bother theory. The US government's persistently idiotic response to 911 did far more damage to the country than any further attack would have. All the terrorists had to do was execute a head-fake, and Homeland Security fell all over itself implementing new and expensive security theater procedures. Why would Al-Queda expend the energy and money for another high-profile attack, when our government would convulse as though they had, every time they even pretended they were getting ready to. They may or may not have hated us for our freedoms, but they must love the way Bush did all he could to take those freedoms away.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:47 AM on March 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Shooting a guy you've had a grudge against when an unrelated person insults you isn't being brave, it's being a dick.

US international policy in a nutshell.
posted by rokusan at 3:58 AM on March 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Because a good warrior uses his opponent's strength against him. We've been so busy attacking ourself there's really no need for another external attack. (Which is to say: What the Pigeon said.)
posted by DU at 4:34 AM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I thought there was no second attack because the holographic lasers used in mounting the first attack were too expensive to replace after they'd been dumped in NewYork Harbor by the same barge that was transporting the gold from under WTC7, this was only one incidence of extraordinary cleverness on the part of the perpetrators of the attacks: the second signal reason was that in 'cleaning up' the crew of demolition specialists who had rigged the towers and WTC7 to blow there was some very unfortunate blow-back in the form of message leakage, c.f. that movie that was all over the internet "Loose Change" and that took one hell of a lot work to discredit by piling on all these other unrelated aspects that were just insane, like that the hijackers were hijackers and not guided missiles hidden in commercial jet planes (when in fact they were the aformentioned laser-holographic images DARPA funding gone awry I think not they paved the way for the invasion Christian invasion of Iraq which Clinton, Clinton! first suggested it wasn't just a Bush thing you know, Clinton came up with it first, 'cause Hussein was a butcher who was de-stabilising the region) and other really strenuous efforts, that association of engineers and architects and hey, just look at that Spanish building, all steel, just like WTC7 or that Chinese building, they didn'y fall down you know? 'Cause steel doesn't melt at 1700degrees celsius which everyone knows you aren't still reading this are you because now I'm just filling up space to get the point across that these rants are fucking interminable but I have a little way to go yet because there is a point behind this no really, there is, in a paper and jet-fuel fire and don't get me started on the knocked the insulation off bullshit not one single NIST scientist really believes that they were just told what to say...

Alternatively, because though they did not manage to capture the figure-head, Mr. BinLaden, they were able (through a bunch of not-so-flashy law-and-order type regulations) to dismantle the organisation and/or kill a lot of its officers. I didn't like the article much and the presentation was needlessly complicated.
posted by From Bklyn at 4:44 AM on March 6, 2009 [8 favorites]


The other shoe dropped. Right behind Bush after he ducked.
posted by AppleSeed at 4:50 AM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I read the comments before the article, but reading through, many of the comments neatly fall into one of the smiley faces the article uses to enumerate the theories.
Personally, I vacilate between the 'terrorists are dumb' and 'time and space' theories. I hope its the first.
posted by bystander at 4:56 AM on March 6, 2009


"If the author doesn't even remember the Anthrax in the mail.."

What Reichstag fire? Once it got the Enabling Patriot Act passed, its purpose was served. After that, no one needed a Congress Reichstag.
posted by orthogonality at 5:00 AM on March 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


The article talked about domestic anthrax later.
posted by bystander at 5:04 AM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


remember the Anthrax

Watching an anthrax attack is like watching paint dry. It's not real terrar unless it has fireballs and flying body parts, you know, like you'd pay to watch in a theater.
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 5:11 AM on March 6, 2009


well tinfoliers say that the 9/11 thing was self-inflicted and not the work of Jihadists so that Jihadists were still hangin in caves and watching HBO specials
posted by Postroad at 5:12 AM on March 6, 2009


watching HBO specials

Despite what FOX News says, terrorists do not get cabal.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:27 AM on March 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


@Artw,
I would like to buy your rock.
posted by bitteroldman at 6:17 AM on March 6, 2009


With regard to the specific 9/11 plot of hijacking planes and crashing them into buildings, this will never happen again because the passengers will fucking murder anyone attempting it. Everybody knows it's no longer a matter of waiting for the hijacker's demands to be met or not, or for the plane's destination to be redirected, or some other abstraction.

Of course, the single most effective practical anti-hijacking thing that's happened so far has been making the cockpit doors stronger.
posted by odinsdream at 6:27 AM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


With regard to the specific 9/11 plot of hijacking planes and crashing them into buildings, this will never happen again because the passengers will fucking murder anyone attempting it. Everybody knows it's no longer a matter of waiting for the hijacker's demands to be met or not, or for the plane's destination to be redirected, or some other abstraction.

Can you imagine how much that sucks for all the people who really do just want to hijack a plane and make it fly to outer Badovia instead of London? There was probably a lonely cell of political rebels somewhere in the world who were just getting ready to make their move. They had the script all worked out: "No one will get hurt. We'll all get out of this okay. Just take us where we want to go."

And then--bam! 9/11 happens and it's back to the drawing board. Hijacking can never work again. Major bummer.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:37 AM on March 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


A good piece. Thanks for posting it. I dunno, but I'd say the simplest explanation is the most compelling: we (the U.S.) obliterated Al-Qaeda and scarred the crap out of everyone supporting it in any public or semi-public way. Terrorists and would-be terrorists were too busy trying to stay alive to organize/execute any significant attacks on the U.S. We know it didn't stop some from trying, but attacking the U.S. just became tactically too difficult for AQ. Thank you, U.S. Armed Forces!
posted by MarshallPoe at 6:52 AM on March 6, 2009


Even though he dismisses it, I think he lends entirely too much credence to Flypaper Theory. Has to be the most aggressively stupid idea in geopolitics since Domino Theory. Yeah, let's fight the terrorists there so we don't have to fight them here. Makes perfect sense, assuming that enemies are finite and that you can't make more of them!

Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb.
posted by Afroblanco at 6:57 AM on March 6, 2009


I go with the Why Bother theory. The US government's persistently idiotic response to 911 did far more damage to the country than any further attack would have.

Kirth nails it. The reason that the Evildoers have never tried to drop the Golden Gate Bridge into the drink or gas the Rose Bowl or anything is the same reason that Muhammad Ali reined back in a final punch in the Rumble in the Jungle: Foreman was already toppling, and a last awkward jab would have been both tactically superfluous and aesthetically unpleasing.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:15 AM on March 6, 2009


I've long thought that Al Qaeda shot their wad on Sept. 11th and got a whole lot more out of it than they ever imagined.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 7:26 AM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


how about the "it was a failure" theory?

yes, that's right, 9/11 was a failure for al qaeda - i think that they may have expected the muslim world to rise up when they saw how "easy" it was to attack the u s, when it was really luck - then it backfired on them - afghanistan was invaded, countries they thought would harbor them got hostile to them and the muslim masses decided they weren't interested in a world-wide jihad and went on with their lives

every communication from them has been centered on the idea that we must surrender or prepare to meet our fate at their hands - a fate that they themselves now know they are utterly incapable of imposing on us

their popular support failed them - the world war they were hoping to provoke didn't happen, even when bush played into their hands by expanding the conflict into iraq - even that didn't work for them because after a few years, the iraqis decided they were utterly sick of outsiders screwing up their country

bin laden and company failed - and note carefully - a defeat for them did not translate into a victory for us
posted by pyramid termite at 7:29 AM on March 6, 2009


This Piper Cub got off course one time and began to fly toward the Capital. The alarm was sounded and the entire govt ran screaming from their desks into the streets.

Oh yeah, 9-11 with a big assist from the boy king turned us into a nation of pussies.
posted by wrapper at 7:33 AM on March 6, 2009


Is Osama Bin Laden the Ralph Ellison of terrorism?

That has got to be one of the stupidest metaphors I've come across in a very long time.
posted by blucevalo at 7:34 AM on March 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


On the flip side of the why bother answer: people realized that maybe we oughta know more about the middle east than we collectively do at the moment. The Middle Eastern History class I am taking apparently did not have enough people for a run until after 9/11/01.

Thus with more knowledge, perhaps those who may have been casted as terrorists or were tilting that way might have found a 'light' so to speak in enlightened individuals who educated themselves about the other side, and were like, maybe there is a chance of peace.

I mean, honestly, terrorism only arises from the lack of feeling safe in one area or another (at least in my opinion). If more people are educated with an understanding of their mentality, or at least how it came to be, then they (potential terrorists and etc.) may feel comfortable in engaging the public in a peaceful, intellectual manner and working towards a solution.

PS: Please note the word potential, I would not negotiate with a committed terrorist because those negotiations would be quite volatile.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 7:43 AM on March 6, 2009


So, can we go back to the Cold War now?

Heck, people liked getting hijacked back then. Everybody likes a free trip to Cuba.
posted by jonp72 at 7:52 AM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some people like to praise President Bush for supposedly not allowing any terrorist attacks after 2001. What about criticizing him for failing to prevent two terrorist attacks in 2001?

And why isn't he held accountable to standards he set for himself? November 2001: President Bush called the anthrax attacks "a second wave of terrorist attacks upon our country." In the Bush parlance this was an attack using weapons of mass destruction.

FBI reports on terrorism: 2000-2001 and 2002-2005. The FBI recorded eight terrorist incidents in 2002, six in 2003, five in 2004, and five in 2005. Most of these incidents are things I wouldn't necessarily classify as terrorism like arson, vandalism, and tree spiking, but the FBI does call them terrorism. Besides, it includes the anthrax attacks and the July 2002 attack on El Al ticket counter at LAX.

January 20, 2001: President Bush swore to protect us against "all enemies, foreign and domestic."
posted by kirkaracha at 8:18 AM on March 6, 2009


Because the people who did it got what they wanted.
posted by Zambrano at 8:49 AM on March 6, 2009


WTF people.. Like 2 real responses and 40 too little-too late whines about bush..

People, this is important shit. Bush was a tool, but his one 'feather in his cap' is that after the scare from the anthrax attacks died down, nothing has happened domestically. I don't believe that his actions made as safer, especially for the long haul. But, there is this ?why? floating out there. Why hasn't there been another attack? This is not about Bush (although maybe about some of his policies), not about the last election, not about the Patriot act and Cory Doctrow and et al. Can we see through the noise and pick out the signal?

I think it's a pretty important to question "why and at what cost". Bush is gone, his legacy is in shambles, there is no reason to knee-jerk any discussion that could possibly put him in good light.

The elephant in the room here is that we fear another domestic attack, for both the obvious reasons, and the political blowback. Because if it happens, the taxonomy described here is going to become critical. (and 'if' seems like talking about an earthquake in San Fran with an 'if', it's not if, it is when, but if when is far enough away, then you can sorta describe it like an if)
posted by PissOnYourParade at 9:09 AM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


The elephant in the room here is that we fear another domestic attack, for both the obvious reasons, and the political blowback.

What do you mean we, ghost-white man?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:06 AM on March 6, 2009


Honestly, so far "Terrorists are dumb" has my vote, with a caveat of "And so are we." They pulled a dumb-shit stunt, and we were too blindly self-satisfied to get off our asses in time to resolve it.

"Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity." I generally live my life by that maxim, and it rarely fails me. It also saves a lot of time and energy that would be wasted on useless anger (albeit not so much in this situation. I'm thinking more like "Hey, that guy cut me off! Well, he probably wasn't looking and didn't see me. Because people are idiots. Oh, well.")
posted by Scattercat at 10:23 AM on March 6, 2009


To me, there are a couple obvious answers.

From the terrorists' side

(IV) Burden-of-Success Theory - It seems like there's a lot of one-upmanship involved in terrorism. It's hard to follow up the act by the guys who made the WTC towers disappear and the Pentagon explode.

If in fact they planned it or were partially/directly responsible for it, OBL and "al-qaeda" accomplished their biggest goal in blowing up the twin towers. ... but then the rest of the world didn't rise up and join their cause. Then what? They try nuclear, chemical, biological, but that stuff is hard.

From the U.S. side:

(I) The Terrorists-Are-Dumb Theory - But when you review how close the terrorists came to being exposed by U.S. intelligence, 9/11 doesn't look like an ingenious plan that succeeded because of shrewd planning. It looks like a stupid plan that succeeded through sheer dumb luck.

Or ... U.S. law enforcement was incompetent.

(Or ... there was small, yet effective conspiracy to undermine U.S. counterterrorist agencies and allow the attacks to happen.)

I think it's a combination of those two theories from the article (not the conspiracy).

In short, it's hard to beat 9/11 and there's not much support to raise in America, really. It's more effective for your terrorist dollar to create events in less stable countries. I don't think the U.S. is there yet.

Also, I agree with Bloomberg for once:

"There are lots of threats to you in the world. There's the threat of a heart attack for genetic reasons. You can't sit there and worry about everything. Get a life.... You have a much greater danger of being hit by lightning than being struck by a terrorist."
posted by mrgrimm at 10:35 AM on March 6, 2009


"Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity."

oh, for pete's sake - killing thousands of people deliberately isn't a malicious act?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:36 AM on March 6, 2009


People, this is important shit. Bush was a tool, but his one 'feather in his cap' is that after the scare from the anthrax attacks died down, nothing has happened domestically.

No, sorry. He has no feathers in his cap. The WTC was his to lose and he lost it. He sat on his fucking hands and let it happen, you will never convince me or history or anyone who can read that it was any other way. If anything this so-called 'feather in his cap' happened despite him. The real almost-feather-capping of the Bush admin was his Africa policy, except the whole no family planing angle, which was insane, he lots and lots of money to the right people: I would never know this but for an acquaintance who works for an NGO that does lots in Africa - a rapid lefty at that.

No, Bush will forever be the guy who let Sep. 11 happen and then turned and used it to make political hay to gratuitously break apart the constitution.

There hasn't been a second Sep 11 attack because Al-Queda were dis-mantled and no one else has the money or know-how to do the same...
posted by From Bklyn at 11:48 AM on March 6, 2009


"...Africa... he gave lots and lots of money..." and "a rapbid lefty at that..."
posted by From Bklyn at 12:16 PM on March 6, 2009


“With regard to the specific 9/11 plot of hijacking planes and crashing them into buildings, this will never happen again because the passengers will fucking murder anyone attempting it.”

Exactly.

But the flypaper theory is solid. Not for the after the fact reasons the Bush Adminstration stated of course.
But from the terrorist POV it works.
If you’re going to get serious training in fighting U.S. forces, best way to do that is by fighting them where they are. You couldn’t run a serious guerilla operation on U.S. soil. You have plenty of time and opportunity to keep a foreign war dragging on and on and sapping resources, etc. Just makes sense.

And the attacks overseas have increased, because we’re more high-vis. It’s what you do. You invite your enemy to attack at your convenience. It’s better to do the “let’s you and him fight” but that went well in Iraq until folks got tired of the chaos and stopped (broadly) supporting the insurgents.
So, rational-choice theory really. The objective is not to just hack away and do physical damage to the U.S. The objective is to achieve your goals with minimal risk and effort.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:52 PM on March 6, 2009


Iraq New Terror Breeding Ground, January 14, 2005

Militants Widen Reach as Terror Seeps Out of Iraq, May 28, 2007
posted by kirkaracha at 6:25 PM on March 6, 2009


Who's going to be the first reporter to ask Obama what ever happened to Bin Laden at a press conference?
posted by bottlebrushtree at 8:17 AM on March 7, 2009


The other shoe dropped. Into the gray bin at airport security.
posted by AppleSeed at 6:16 AM on March 8, 2009


Bush was a tool, but his one 'feather in his cap' is that after the scare from the anthrax attacks died down, nothing has happened domestically.

You must have missed the news about Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University.
posted by assoctw at 8:03 AM on March 9, 2009


If you’re going to get serious training in fighting U.S. forces, best way to do that is by fighting them where they are.

Actually... this lends more credence to the "Iraq War as terrorist training ground" theory. Re-read the piece.

To quote :

[...] the Central Intelligence Agency concluded as far back as 2005 that for Islamist extremists, Iraq was at least as much of a training ground as it was a flytrap. The number of anti-Western jihadis created by the Iraq war probably exceeds the number of anti-Western jihadis killed in the Iraq war.

But my point is that it doesn't even work from a common-sense standpoint. Terrorist enemies are NOT a finite quantity. They are inspired. Recruited. Trained. By pursuing an imperialist agenda in the Middle East, we're doing even more of what inspired them to begin with. Before the Iraq War, Al Qaeda didn't even have a foothold in Iraq. And look at them now! They've opened up Iraq as a second front in our Middle East fiasco. Wouldn't it have just been easier if we'd committed more troops and resources to Afghanistan in the first place?

After all, the scariest place in the world right now isn't Iraq or even Afghanistan. It's Pakistan.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:15 PM on March 10, 2009


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