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tv   Panel on Democratic Agenda at State and Local Level  CSPAN  November 22, 2017 4:15pm-5:28pm EST

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democratic legislators from around the country met in washington dc to talk about advancing and defending progressive policies. their local and state lawmakers who participated in the annual state innovation exchange conference. this is an hour and 15 minutes. [applause] >> good evening, everyone. it is a pleasure to welcome you all here for our program. before we get started, i want to go over very quick housekeeping details. please silence or cell phones, and if you have -- to let you know, no photos allowed during the programs, and thanks.
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you will get the chance to see all of this, because c-span is here. so straighten your colors, you may be on tv very soon. sally quinn is a longtime washington post journalists, television commentator, and one of the renowned social hostesses. she is the founder of the religious website from the washington post. she authored several books including that guide to adventurous entertaining, happy endings, and we will make you a star as the first female anchor in the midwest. she also has several friends. the author of divided lives, public and private struggles of three women. she has been a staff writer at the new yorker and reporter for the washington post.
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bob woodward is an associate editor where he works. first 1973, coverage of the heergate scandal, then 2002, -- he has authored or co-authored -- announcer 1: road to the white house 2020 kicks -- [applause] >> good evening, everyone. my name my name is ruth robbins. i want to go over very quick housekeeping details.
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please silence your cell phones, and if you have, or to let you know, no recording, no photos allowed during the programs, and thanks. you will get the chance to see all of this because c-span is taping, so brush your hair, straighten your callers, you may you may be onrs, tv. sally quinn is a washington post journalists, television commentator, and one of that renowned social hostesses. she is the founder of the religious website on faith in the washington post. she writes for various publications and has authored several books including the party, guide to adventurous entertaining, happy endings, and we will make you a star about her experience as the first female network anchor in the u.s. she is in conversation with two good friends who are also authors. elsa walsh of divided lives, the public and private struggles of three women.
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she has been a staff writer at the new yorker and reporter for the washington post where she was a finalist for the pulitzer prize in investigative journalism. bob woodward is an associate editor, where he works since 1971. differentred in two surprises for the watergate scandal and in 2002 for coverage of the terrorist attack. he has authored or co-authored 18 books over the years with his most recent one being the last of the president's men. please welcome sally quinn, bob woodward, and elsa walsh in this program. [applause] bob woodruff: i get to start. in the spirit of full disclosure, we should announce
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you and i are married. [laughter] bob woodruff: in fact sally introduced us. [laughter] bob woodruff: it was right before the civil war. [laughter] >> speak for your self. bob woodruff: speak for myself. 1981. >> and it was love at first sight. bob woodruff: you wish. >> i saw bob go [gasp] bob woodruff: you used to describe it as last at first sight -- lust ast first sight. we will talk to sally about her book, finding magic, which i love because it is honest. it is about the things in life. your career, your spouse, your child, and your children, and your friends. we will also lead to
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questioning, and i will interrupt. [laughter] elsa walsh: we were interrupting -- sally quinn: is that how it goes? elsa walsh: if he interrupts too many times, i will tap him on the arm. so it is an honor to be here to talk to you about this book. i love it too. very fast read for those of you who have not read it, and it looks your whole life. your whole life. i want to start with something you wrote, and you write, my childhood experience was magic. planted the seed that grew into the faith i have today. you want to talk about that? sally quinn: i am from the deep south, and i was born in savanna, georgia, and spent all my summers in statesboro 60 miles outside of savannah. savanna is midnight in the garden of good and evil, and my
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parents and family, they were scottish presbyterian. theunt played the organ in presbyterian church on sundays. but everyone in the family, there were eight or nine kids, there was also another religion or faith or set of beliefs, whatever you want to call them, which were the [indiscernible] so my aunt and all of the family believed in the scottish stones and time travel and psychic phenomenon and ghosts and astrology and voodoo. so i had these two separate religions. i had my little christian religion, and i believed in god and jesus, and i prayed every night, but i also had this set of beliefs which i later came to learn, even when i was finally
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finishing the book, were just as legitimate as any other religion. because i think all religion is magic in the end. watched watched them, i all of this happening in a house where there were ghosts. when somebody in the family died, ghosts would rattle change -- chains up and down this red and white antebellum southern mansion. they would drag chains up and down, everybody would cower, then you go up stairs and there would be scratches on the floor. my aunt ruth had a heart condition. she had a dream one night about her mother, and her mother said don't worry, you are going to be fine. she said, how will i know? you are telling me the truth? her mother said i will leave you something as evidence.
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she went into the parlor, and there on the divan was her mother's shawl that she had been buried in. this is all family lore, but there were many -- announcer 1: we have a scheduled mistake. this is available online. search-span.org and sally quinn. next on c-span we take you to a conversation on the documents discovered on the raid on osama bin laden in 2011 in pakistan. [no audio]
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>> good afternoon and welcome to the foundation for defense of democracy. i am the founder and president, and i am pleased to welcome you to our conversation understanding al qaeda, the massive trove of osama bin laden's files. you know the background of may 2011 when navy seal team killed osama bin laden. they had a second mission to take as much information as they could from his compound. learned --, and we we should have learned information but it was under lock and key. these people were among the most vociferous fbs -- lobbyists and activists to release that information, 70,000 documents that have now been released. we were given an advance look by mike pompeo who took away this
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information saying it should be available for journalists and scholars. i'm pleased to have a conversation today with our moderator kimberly dozier, reported onteran -- intelligence and national security issues. she covered the war in iraq from 2003 until she was wounded in a car bombing in 2006. and by way of housekeeping, today's event will be live streamed. here andge the guests online to join in on twitter at fdd, and also to silence your phones. over to you. kim: thank you. today we have with us three of the practitioners of the dark art of delving into everything al qaeda. so we will dwell on al qaeda today. in case you have not met them, we have the founder of the world
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war journal, now in the fdd family now, a new york times specialist on al qaeda, foreign correspondent and veteran. we worked together there. , who i asked him to bring out this notebook. we will start broad, but get granular about this. these guys know their stuff inside and out. we will talk amongst ourselves, then open it to questions for you all. so with that, i will start with the broad question. why did it take so long to release these documents? who deals with intelligence and bureaucracy knows they are allergic to releasing anything. we call for transparency on a lot of different matters. it is the media's job to present transparency. transparency helps the public
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because here we are setting -- sitting in 2016, and we may not have the large-scale deployments, but we are still deployed and fighting through most in the air in more countries than ever. it helps us understand the spectrum and is crucial for understanding the inefficacy of policies and understanding our enemy. what better way to see it then through the eyes of osama bin laden and how he saw the world? we started fighting for releasing these files in may 2012. at the time the obama white house put out 17 files from this trove. we are sitting there, bill and i are nervous, and we think, we will get all these goodies today . all that comes out our 17 files. there was a narrative associated with those files that said al qaeda was on the decline, everything was going poorly, there was no sort of cohesion.
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you have al qaeda groups everywhere from west africa to the middle east, but they are not really al qaeda. bin laden had little control over all of them. but then in 2012, we knew it was wrong. it was basically a cherry picked version of what was going on. so we can prove it is wrong based on a file -- even in 17 we can prove it is wrong. but the only way we will put this issue to rest however is to ultimately get where everything is released as possible. that is where it began, with a simple western. what role did osama bin laden play in al qaeda on the day he was killed? what was he doing? >> can you describe, what was and first.leased >> the first 17 files, it was a mix. there was a little of information. we had some information on the communications with the pakistani taliban.
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we had information -- one of the first files -- am i right, tom, e somali file was in the first? >> it and first. >> the first 17 files, it was a mix. there was a letter that was an attachment to another letter not released. >> i actually reported in 2010 zawahiri - that ordered shabab. they did it -- the reasoning i reported from very good sources as they were concerned about having the aid cut off because somalia at lot in this time and they wanted to kept international coalition from coalescing and coming in and attacking shabab. shabab is an al qaeda branch. kind of mocked. one of those files confirmation of that report. we saw a lot -- >> that was in the first set? bill: one of the first sets.
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we have seen more information on that i saw we the next attachment to that or initial response. yeah, it was a smattering. there was some information in various different areas, but it was -- we have to understand about these files is we're looking at what we may see one r two communications, but with string of long communications. when you said it was cherry picked. that has that feeling they put out this piece for this, this piece for that. there was information on iran-al qaeda ties. when you look at that the argument was made, look, this shows there were no ties. we read just that one document and we see some indications there are. it was a mix of information in that first batch. 17 miles was not enough to draw any type of concrete conclusions which were made at that time. >> between then and now, i just wanted to -- for the audience
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describe again what was just released in terms of size and scope. bill: i believe it's 107,499 files of interest. another 300,000 plus software files. .> like 450,000 -- tom: for instance we see reports to -- on al qaeda in iraq at that time. which became the islamic state. bill: communications back and forth. we see bin laden's personal journal. video. we see a lot -- family videos in there. a lot has been made about the videos. we have to remember that they didn't just seize bin laden's laptop and his bookcase. but they seized everything that used. munications back imagine if someone looked at your family computer where they would see a whole lot of different information. we have seen communications about the pakistani taliban.
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we really only -- >> it's his digital life. bill: not just his. but his family's as well. >> the difference between the second eans the release, why do you think the obama administration was holding those documents back? >> well, i can only speak to my own reporting and what my interaction with the administration was. in 2011 when osama bin laden was killed, i was the west africa bureau chief for the a.p. i was based in senegal but i covered the region. about six months later a branch of al qaeda called al qaeda anti-islamic -- aqim, took over the northern half of mali. it was a territory the site -- size of afghanistan. enormous territory. when i was calling officials in washington and diplomats at the embacy, analysts, many of them except for tom and a few others, the narrative i would get is that this group in mali was not
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connected to al qaeda. that it had taken the al qaeda name in order to have prestige thoseare people, and that people were just criminals. they were drug dealers, and kidnapping people for ransom in -- in a criminal way. >> these are not the al qaeda you are looking for. >> in 2013, the french and fleshed out this group. i was among the reporters able to get to the city of timbuktu. it actually exists. those people were just criminals. hey it's a real place. and i went building by building. anti-buildings that had been occupied by this terror group and started just collecting the thousands of documents that they had left behind. i worked for the translator for the next year and suddenly my world view, which had been informed by official, i think most reporters work this way because it's hard to get access to a terror group, that world view started to fall apart because among the documents that i was finding in mali were, for
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example, a disciplinary letter al qaeda reprimanding a mali commander who had negotiated the ransom of a canadian hostage on his own without consulting al qaeda central. and that was going back to 2008, 009. so suddenly i was seeing that this group i was told really had -- >> a bunch of criminals with no connections. >> exactly. was being micromanaged by al qaeda central. when the first set of documents came out, if you read them carefully with this knowledge in mind, can you find evidence of this micromanaging. in the letters from al qaeda in the peninsula where you see them giving each other so suddenly i was seeing that this group i was instructions, guidance, etc. but the overall narrative that i think was being pushed to the you look back at the editorials that were done, was an image of bin laden isolated. he had lost control of this
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group. i remember one of the headlines describing him was a lion in winter. in fact, the new trove that has now come out confirms very much what i was seeing in mali which is, not just real connective tissue, but connective tissue to the point of them being micromanaged from afghanistan and pakistan. very minor personal decisions are being decided by the group thousands of miles away. >> do you think that that was something that was kept from the public's view because it revealed there were -- there had a to be reams of communication going back and forth which means us -- u.s. intelligence, western intelligence was he missing this? >> i think back to when bin laden was killed, it was 2011, right before the major campaign season. i don't want to underplay the role that the killing of osama bin laden had.
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that was obviously a very, very important thing that happened. still hink that that was into something much bigger. the head of the organization had been killed. these are literally -- the organization had been decimated. the organization is in disarray. the organization is on the run. and at the same time that we were preparing to pull out roops from iraq, and i think that it was important to portray this as a problem that no longer existed. >> tom, you badgered two got c.i.a. ons, you director mike pompeo to release the information. why did it come from the c.i.a. and not d.n.i. got c.i.a. like t of documents? what does that mean in terms of -- there have been accusations out there that pompeo released this with a political aim in mind to hammer home a link,
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supposed lidge between al qaeda and iran. tom: this is why you asked me to bring the binder. >> yeah, because i asked that question back there and he started blinding me with science. now he's going to do it to you. tomton clore -- tom: we're going to get nerdy. it came down to a simple question. what does the organization look like? it has all sorts of problems in answering these questions. so the big reason why we wanted these files out was to answer these types of questions. definitively based on primary sourced evidence so we don't have somebody chattering at each other with their own opinion. congressman pom pie yeah yow, didn't know who he was when we congressman pom pie yeah yow, didn't know who he was when we started advocating for release of this stuff. he certainly heard us at hpsci
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and elsewhere saying released. it has to be released. congressman devin nunes fought to have this stuff leased as well. he was a key architect of having this stuff for the national intelligence authorization act of 2014 that led to the release of more files. >> i have to say, hpsci is this has to be the house intelligence committee for those on c-span who don't live and breathe this every day like we do. tom: sorry. good clarification. i laughed when i saw this allegation this is was all about a tie between iran and al qaeda. the reason i laughed is it's not controversial there is this tie. and it's so uncontroversial that in fact the obama administration , their treasury and state dements departments over the issued f five years numerous terrorist deggets designations citing the agreement between the iranian regime and al qaeda that allows al qaeda to maintain a core numerous terrorist deggets designations citing the agreement facilitation pipeline inside iran. what i was showing kim was, i
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said. i don't need the bin laden files. that's the argument i want to make. it's probably one of 50 things we're interested in in the files. if that was where i wanted to make, all i have to do is point to what the obama administration said. document. a treasury tom: terrorist as a nation. this goes through a rigorous interagency intelligence process. it has to hold up in a court of law. citing firm intelligence to make this designation. there were a whole series that started on july 28, 2011. >> this is an unclassified document. tom: they start by saying that the treasury department was teargetting al qaeda's key funding and support network using iran has a critical transit point. they talked about uncovering the formally secret deal between iran and al qaeda. their words, not mine. then in december of 2011, i want to give you an example -- >> this is all after the may 2011 raid. tom: this stuff is flowing out in part, parts of the u.s. government are use the bin wladen files to justify terrorist designationings and rewards for offers while other parts are putting their head in
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the sand and don't want to hear t in december of 2011, here's the state department. this is state department, december, 201 s. they offer a $10 million reward for surrey, a major al qaeda facilitator. they say he's operating under an agreement between al qaeda anti-iranian government. and gives you-all sorts of details. we can go on like this for the next eight hours if you want. i can walk you through the details. the bottom line was when it comes to this thorny issue of iran-al qaedaer -- al qaeda, they truth is they do have an agreement. this is not a love affair. you have to tell the whole story. we alone were saying tell the whole story. tell all the bits and pieces of t and that whole story includes a file written by osama bin laden himself. >> this is from the documents that have just been released. tom: released prior to that because hpsci basically told
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d.n.i. you have to release more files. this file came out because of that. this file's written by osama bin laden in october, 18, 2007. the head of the islamic state of iraq had just threatened iran publicly. what happens is bin laden says to him, he dresses him down. he says you shouldn't have done that. you have to consult with us if you're going to threaten iranians. why? he explains iran is our main atery for -- artery for funds, personnel, and communication. he also mention the hostages. while iran was allowing some al qaeda guys to operate this main artery of funds they are keeping others as hostages. this is you this is you understand the whole picture, you need to see the primary source evidence. not just parts of what people want to show you. when you mention this whole cusation that mike pompeo is
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trying to gin up a trying to gin up a connection between iran and al qaeda, simple answer. everyone has to point what the obama administration says was in the bin laden files. the state and treasury department that cited disagreement. >> you did some reporting on the hostages being held. >> "new york times" was the first to break the story. a very senior al qaeda figure imprisoned in iran had been released as part of a prisoner swap. and that he had been released from iran and was on the move. i was never able to confirm where he went. we got a lot of push back from the white house saying the story wasn't true. i had sourced it to an al qaeda commander i was speaking to. and my colleague, in the washington bureau, had sourced it to officials he was speaking to. so this iran thing has always been just a really touchy subject. and i agree with tom that the most important thing is the primary source material.
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let us see the evidence and let us try to report based on the evidence rather than -- tom: one quick point. the reason why it's important to report on that evidence is not to justify a set of policies or anything along those lines. sunshine causes problems for these guys. in hen the state department 2011 came out with a $10 million reward for the chief al qaeda facilitator in iran, the iranians were embarrassed. al qaeda was embarrassed. they had to sideline him temporarily bhause of this embarrassment. sunshine is the ultimate disinfectant. because having a relationship with iran is controversial for sunni, jihadis, this is something they have to find themselves to explain. both internally and externally. that's the whole point. show the whole reeg relationship. you have two sides. they have this agreement. show the whole story. a lot of you have done
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study over the years on how al qaeda operates, communicates, what did you learn from the latest traunch that surprised you? one document we're working on right now, it's a personnel file of 19 al qaeda, i would call them mid level leaders at this time. where the date on the letter we were able to date it to a certain time period. one of the leaders was detained and escaped from bag ram prison in late 2005 and later recaptured in late 2006. we know it was written probably 2006. me frame these 19 leaders, i believe we were able to identify somewhere around eight or nine of them. again like if you were looking in the military they would be majors, lieutenant colonels, colonels. these are the up-and-coming in al kidea. we killed several of them in drone strikes. al qaeda's leader in pakistan. for afghanistan. operational leader. you have seen surey who tom
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mentioned that file. he's the first guy profiled. they do discuss how he traveled, how he facilitated networks into iran. it's fascinating. al qaeda as an organization is looking -- it's evaluating its future leadership. some these guys -- what fascinates me not the ones we identify, it's the ones we can't. who are they? where are they today? are they dead? alive? several say this guy has a future. we can rely on him. it's a very -- it's a brief but detailed evaluation. not only do you see what al qaeda, who they think their up-and-coming leaders, what's important to them? married? single? al qaeda likes their leaders to be married, make them stable. physical fitness. something they are very interested in. they don't like heavy guys. what their expertise is, what they are interested in doing. ow are they perceived by their
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-- all these commanders, this is clear to me, based on i'm looking at this particular document, we have seen these type of files. we have seen how al qaeda defines its general manager. other files and press releases, this is one of the ones in the new release, in this case, this was al qaeda's leadership in afghanistan as well as in pakistan, particularly in the province in afghanistan and inside pakistan. it's clear that these were al qaeda leaders embedded and fighting alongside the network. it's not an individual group. it's an integral part of the taliban. this is something tom and i fight often. his tempted to disassociate. you see how these leaders how they are fighting. this is the type of things that fascinate me. it's very clear when we seize a document like this we starring
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targeting these individuals because they start coming up off the radar. did the u.s. government know about them prior to seizing these documents from the bin laden files or not, those are interesting questions which we may never know. how al qaeda perceives its leadership, where they are operating, all these things. i think it's important for us -- the best way to be able to ultimately defeat your enemy is you have to understand how they perceive themselves, how they operate, and what's important to them. that's what we see. we see elements of that within these files. >> you're describing a very sophisticated network. one of the things we have heard in the post a.q. or bin laden year is much of their network has been decimated. we're hearing that now about isis. from what you have read in the files and the sophistication you are describing, how do you think hey are operating now? bill: al qaeda? >> are they using some of the
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same things in terms to communicate? bill: we know they are still fighting in afghanistan. remember, the obama administration narrative from c.i.a., from defense department officials, one of the things they told us for years is al qaeda has 50 to 100 fighters. this number remained constant for six years straight. >> i heard that a lot. bill: and here without having e bin laden documents, international security systems force which has become support, they are launching attacks and issuing press releases on al aeda members being killed in afplgt one particular raid killed 50 guys. so the question is, is there now 0 to 50? we see this all the time. we compile this information. we map where these raids took place. this is what's going on outside of the files. lo and behold in 2015, october, oh -- the other thing the defense department against intelligence said was al qaeda
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is confined to the kunar province in afplgt minimal presence outside. all the way up to 2015 when we conducted a raid in kandahar province in southeastern afghanistan. they killed around 200 al qaeda fighters in this one raid alone. >> that's negative 50. bill: negative. exactly. the math. outside of kandahar -- kunar. more than 50 to 100. the math. outside of kandahar -- kunar. more than 50 to 100. we have seen -- al qaeda formed a branch. al qaeda in the indian subcontinent. i think they responded to some of the losses that they incurred on the drone campaign. it's clear bin laden files do state that in the files that they were taking losses. and it was hurting them. they are talking about moving operatives. this is back -- again we're talking pre-2011 here. they are moving operatives in afghanistan. they identified provinces where they would be safe. four province that is were not
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-- one of them was kunar. >> they are sticking to places with security that is challenged . remote locations. bill: friendly forces operating there. difficult for american, thrick merican forces to operate. -- particularly american forces to operate. there have about press reports, al qaeda has a large network inside karachi. i never believed bin laden was hiding in a cave, and i don't believe zawahiri s >> does anyone want to take a bet where he is now? bill: i would say some city like -- pick your midsized city in central pakistan. >> i did talk to friend in the pakistani embassy here that may have "q&a" later on. bill: pick a city like that.
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in studying what you have been able to study so far, the trove is vast, what's been your take away? >> super interesting communication between al qaeda central and this group that had been portrayed as a bunch of iminals in mali and west and -- >> aquim. >> there is a letter in the trove that tom got to me yesterday and it's regarding these tuiasosopo nearbyians who were kidnapped -- two austrian tourists who were kidnapped in tunisia. i have gone to austria to interview this couple. it was a horrific kidnapping. they were there with their two german shepherds. at the moment they were kidnapped, the al qaeda that tipped them did not want to waste his bullets killing the animals so they beat them in death in front of the couple. the woman could barely talk. she spent the whole interview
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crying. at the time i had spoken to the negotiator that had gone into the desert to negotiate the release. >> how long were they held? >> not that long. less than a year. i was seeing her in 2014 and she -- she couldn't conduct the interview without crying. she was clearly like a wounded person that had -- i think had been changed by this. he was more sanguine. the negotiator, a mali man told me at the time that the austrian government had paid two millionureos. i reported that. i got enormous -- there is a letter in this trove that is found in pakistan in osama bin laden's house that confirms that it was a two million euro ransom and al qaeda says we need to keep this on the q.t. because austria has been pressured by
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the united states not to pay the ransom. >> did you ever think you would get your reporting confirmed? >> last night i was on the train coming here and emailing the hostages going, hi, i don't know if you remember me from 2014. we had this rather emotional conversation. by the way, here's proof that what you and other people are telling me is true. again, the thing that i find remarkable is these are physical letters. so the presumption is these are being hand carried. from the deserts of northern africa across these oceans, across this territory, all wait over to pakistan. and yet for things that are -- two million euro ransom is not that much cared to what aqim would later get, but i find it remarkable that for things of that nature there's this voluminous correspondentens going back between the affiliate in the sahara and the core group. nother example is -- al qaeda,
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the group in africa, it had a different name and pledges allegiance to al qaeda, 2006, 2007. there's a letter from za with a her why where he is going over the charter for the al qaeda group in africa. basically like -- giving notes on their bilines. and saying article 16 i think you should phrase it more differently. article whatever do it this way. one of the interesting -- >> like an intrusive editor in the world. >> yes. and one of the suggestions that zawahiri makes is the article stating what their goal was going to be in africa was initially formulated to say it as going to be jihad against the algerian regime. zawahiri gently says i think you would be better positioned to say this is a more global thing.
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and basically suggest it should be against the west. against america. but in the territory. >> shaping their mission. >> shaping their mission. making it global. another ongoing trip you hear about these groups like boko haram, even isis, is these are local gropse groups with local grievances. of course they are. but the whole point is that when you become part of this terror brand, those local grievances become part of something more global. so you are hitting da bhuja -- abhuja but hitting the western target. you're hitting algeria but the united nations compound in algeria. tom: we have seen in previous documents for al qaeda is getting some of the funding, locally, pakistan, hostage exchange. bill: they are getting their
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cut, al qaeda central in afghanistan. these documents talk about moving money. another thing to follow up with movement of taliban in pakistan, we have seen documents where, again, al qaeda is basically red lining the t.t.p. movement. they are saying do this, do that. there is another document in here where al qaeda -- massoud was the head of the movement in pakistan where he was being uprated for trying to poach some al qaeda's quote-unquote, companies that were operating inside pakistan. you see this -- everyone says the t.t.p., it's a local taliban group that hates the pakistani government. sure, al qaeda has ties to it, whatever, but it's not. >> make it sound like trade ties r something. bill: it's like corporate tebling his local affiliate there, you have to do this. this is how you're going to do it, play the game. we see that time and time again.
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as far as the african desert to as close as to where al qaeda central was inside pakistan. >> tom, you were saying you were day you are finding new stuff. and the communication with commanders in iran day you are new stuff. and the communication with commanders in iran will surprise people. iraq. tom: i think the files will -- are going to rewrite the history of the iraq war. we have already learned things from these files that nobody knew previously. for example, bin laden was receiving fairly regularly, we haven't fully cataloged them, fairly regularly audio reports from his commanders in iraq. they weren't giving one of these handwritten letters or typed letter like others. they would sit down and record a summary of the weekly events or however long the timeline was to explain what was going on and what the thinking was. these are very in-depth reports. talking about the political tuation, talking about the
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economy, talking about different insurgency groups they are either cooperating with or having problems with. >> this is al qaeda in iraq under za wacky. tom: and after wards. this is direct -- one of the big debates that's been spawned in the counterterrorism community and elsewhere, and also between isis and al qaeda, was whether or not isis was really part of al qaeda past 2006 when they first declared the islamic state of iraq. i think the files will end that debate once and for all. i think it's clear some of the files we have seen that al qaeda was still guiding and providing leadership for the islamic state of iraq and bin laden considered it to be part of his global empire. you asked a key question, right? earlier, this is a key question about the ebb and flow of this fight. people are saying isis was decimated like al qaeda. one of these audio files is fascinating. his commander in iraq is saying of m, you know, the field jihad is fertile.
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islamic state collapses we'll still keep going. there are plenty of opportunities for us to raise jihad here indefinitely. this is years before the syrian uprisings and complexity of that war spilled over. they were already eyeing syria years before from iraq. they were seeing it something that the slam inc. state of iraq in particular could expand into syria. talking about dy the years before opportunity that we saw sort of manifest itself. that's point i think ultimately that we -- there is an ebb flow. it's not these guys are 10-foot ogres or invincible. far from t if the opportunity that we saw sort of manifest itself. that's point i think you own set of the story and say that's it, the islamic state of iraq collapsed, we saw what happened. to s why you have constantly keep track of these different organizations and sort of the long war that we keep trying to document. >> before opening up to the audience, one question i wanted of theyou is, which copy
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documents do you have? do you have the first one the c.i.a. put out? you got the malwear version. tom: instead of giving us a helpful guide and some english translations because i struggle with arabic because do i some and experts tell me with more. instead of being helpful in that regard, it was quite unhelpful. what we were given was a, as bill knows and other people will know, basically a giant jumble of files. you'll see a picture after cat and a rose, hey, this is a letter from a very important senior al qaeda facilitator. cat, rose, flower. that sofert thing. that's basically what's been given to us. many of the files also had the malware in t c.i.a. had to take this stuff down, scrub it, and relaunch it. we got the unscrubbed strergs with the malware in it. if you're worried don't give
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them to us yet can you wait. we have that malware version. >> anything to add? you firewalled one computer you are hoping to access it? tom: we think. >> on that note i would like to open up to questions from the audience. do we have anyone who can be equally -- there's a microphone. right to that person in the blue tie. if you could intersues deuce yourself. >> derek harvey. great rundown. i appreciate it. there's a lot that's still going to come out as you said. i'm wondering, do you have any idea about if there's any gap tween what was released, the 470,000, do you think there's anything there besides a select number of highly classified documents that they want to retain?
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they are saying proprietary information -- not proprietary, copyrighted material and photography. they weren't released. but do you think there is a gap still of other material that might not be released? that's question one. the uestion number two is, raid recovered only what the raid team could bring back with them. there was a loft material left there. we do have pakistanis here in the audience, i think. there was a treasure-trove they recovered, too, that has not been made accessible. could you comment on that? tom: derek just said on two key questions. i don't know what wasn't given to us. i was represented to tom: derek just me that it was basically -- what was released publicly now, basically it was only the most operationally sensitive stuff. i have some indication what is that s i'm not sure how much that s the second part of the question, something i asked about, which is, if you go back through the raid, the americans did carry out -- basically the
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navy seals killed bin laden and started pushing as much stuff into duffel bags, they fill as much as they have. and they pick up the al qaeda bags and stuff them as but as derek said they did not get everything. there is an open question about whether or not the stuff the pakistanis recovered, i'm going to assume the americans got it, u.s. intelligence got t. i will assume that, there is an open question about whether or not any of that material was actually included in what was released. that may include a piece of the picture. you may have part of the files that maybe we don't have that maybe fill in correspondent or blanks where we have them. the answer to the question is we don't in a moment >> how much was there in exchange of information? m: my sense is, this is very sensitive between the american government and -- >> it wasn't going well. tom: highly controversial raid. the commission report leaked online has some details.
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my sense is that -- my guess s. i'll put it as a guess, the u.s. got from pakistan what they recovered. bill: or at least got from pakistan what pakistan was willing to give them from what was recovered. tom: i doubt all that was ncluded in this release. >> sir, in the front row. microphone is heading your way. if you could introduce your sefment >> >> david jackson, former director of voice of america. sort of related to that last question i was curious whether you got a sense, any much you, about what percentage of this recent trove of documents has been shared over the years with america's allies. tom: so, this is a great question. a couple things. one, we know the documents have been used in a number of criminal cases, including europe and elsewhere. some of the documents have been shared. clearly. there have been criminal cases in germany where somebody is
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mentioned in the files and that file suesed to prosecute that individual. rt of the reason why we have advocated transparency, we were hearing lot of stories back in 2012 there were fights even within the bureaucracy who was given access within the u.s. government to the entirety of the files. and there were different fights going on bureaucratically regard to that. so our answer to that was, we believe in competitive analysis and freedom of information. and the only way you can do that is ensure as wide ack as possible. >> i was hearing gripes from intelligence analysts within the government saying we can't get our hands on these files. it's strange. we're living in a world of fake news, information operations, weaponizing information. you spent a lot of time watching isis and al qaeda on social media. has there been anything from the
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files that would be embarrassing to al qaeda that you have seen off or be weaponized in a way it might turn followers off? >> i think this trove is still too young to make it that far. as most of it is not translated. for example, when the off or bed in a way it might turn raid occurred and they found pornography in osama bin laden's computer, i think that that was something that you would see -- of course the al qaeda community took that as something that had been prompted. they would never believe that bin laden, a human being, could possibly ingest pornography. that was surely something embarrassing for the group. tom: we also found bollywood ideos. have come-to-appreciate them. >> looking for -- force bill:
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here's an important question. no matter what we put forward the those documents, are generally going to dismiss it. i do think probably one of the things that is very difficult for them to dismiss is the iran-al qaeda ties because you have -- they could dismiss it as false. i think everyone knows what's going on in there. members are generally going to dismiss it. i do think probably one of the things that is very difficult for them to of al qaeda have transitted through iran to get to iraq and syria and pakistan and afghanistan. they all know what's going on. and having these files just come out and prove it. i think that is something that's very difficult for them. the rest is easily dismissed. >> i think isis has made fun of al qaeda. tom: isis, they actually have a defector from al qaeda who accused al qaeda of being soft on iran. al qaeda's response was -- basically they didn't deny they had a deal. al qaeda issued a response they
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didn't deny they had dealings with iran. it became something of an embarrassment for them. the isis defector was saying you guys are soft on iran. you have a deal. there are safe houses in iran. you don't do anything about it. strike them. al qaeda's response was, yeah, but you, too. how did you get over to syria you one minute through iran. the bottom line is that agreement or relationship is actually not controversial within isis literature recognizes you one minute throuh iran. it, al kidea, the files recognize it, the obama administration recognize it. courts. 9/11 commission. it's something that has to be discussed because as they were saying it causes problems for al qaeda. >> yet in the hands after savvy information operations officer, if they had that information back in 2011, that might have been something they would have wanted to include in a file to be made public. maybe it wouldn't sway the
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jihadists, but how about that vast middle people who are considering going in that direction? tom: if i can add one more point. if you want controversial. there is a big argument between isis and al qaeda whether or not isis had a buyout or allegiance to al qaeda's leader when baghdadi declares the caliphate. these files, i think, probably could have been weaponized during the rise of isis to undermine the idea that isis never had a buyout to al qaeda that was broken. this became a big deal. al qaeda was calling baghdadi the oath breaker. how could you pledge allegiance to him? i think these files made clear that relationship was ongoing and something that could have een weaponized in that regard. >> thank you very much. 'm dr. chotry, senior analyst.
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i heard these words disseminated, disarray. wanted to know if the president's strategy of containing, eliminating, disseminating al qaeda, is their strategy at present working to expanding?-- is it if it is expanding, what should be done to bring it to a closure? >> i'm a journalist i can't make policy recommendations. what i can say is let's look at isis for a moment. isis held a territory in iraq, syria, and libya for more than three years. that at its height was the site size of the united kingdom. they ruled 12 million people. they had recruits from shouldn't
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different countries, tens of thousands of people. significant that that territory has now been taken away. according to the latest coalition figures i got, 96% of that territory has been taken away. but i see analysts significant that territory has now and offis making the same declarations that i heard in 2011 and 2012 where they are -- where they are thinking because the territory has been erased, that the group is now decimated, disarray. literally we're hearing the same terms. all you have to do, in my opinion, is be beyond the tell gram channels, this is one of the apps they use on line, to see how active they remain today. hundreds and hundreds of charges are populated by literally thousands of their acolytes on line and they continue their jihad virtually. just in october we saw the attack using a car in my home city in new york. the young man who did that
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initially tried to put the isis flag on the hood of his car. decided that would be too obvious. instead he used it to cause violence and kill people. and then when he was in his obvious. nstead hospital bed, he then asked the nurse to deliver him an isis flag. clearly this guy, whether or not he was actually speaking to isis is taking on their mantle and is -- believes that he is working in their name. i would caution thinking, especially hospital bed, he with isis, in of what we're seeing with al qaeda, that the current success, which are important successes, that this somehow -- >> do i have to say i have heard from administration officials, like top defense intelligences, intel officials talk about the virtual caliphate. refer to this as a
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generational war. but there is a difference between the national security officials you hear from and some of the messages out of the white house. >> i spent a lot of time in paris and in france because that was where the most devastating isis attack took refer to this i find the rhetoric of french officials to be interesting. it was very similar to american officials before the november 13 attack. following the november 13 attack, the state's prosecutor, the one who does the press conferences after every subsequent attack that has occurred, in my opinion started to really level with the population. he would say things like this. it was almost like an israeli dialogue. but he would say things that -- where would he make clear that this group is not defeated. it's not going to be defeated soon.me
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we're doing everything to keep you safe. we have this many investigations going on. but you have to understand that this is a major problem. that's the kind of rhetoric we're hearing out of france. at's because they have faced such an acute way. we haven't, i think, heard that except privately in america. i think the most informed analysts i speak to do call a generational war. that this is something that is going to soon. we're doing everything to be he i think, frankly, i think we don't completely know how to defeat them. perhaps you disagree with me. if we did, i think we would have done it by now. bill: even though they have lost 96% of the territory, whatever that number is, i'm seeing them launch attacks in areas that they have recently lost. you see them on their videos and tell gram files. these attacks look very much like attacks witnessed in 2011, 2012, 2013 prior to the islamic state. in early 2014, and then mosul
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and northern and central iraq. later in the 2014. it is easy to say they lost territory and therefore they are defeated but they are not defeated on the battlefield. they have just transition from openly controlling territory to now fighting a guerrilla style insurgency, still active, still have combat power that still draws in recruits, still shows their followers of a virtual caliphate but have a significant presence on the battlefield even though they don't control territory. their followers of a virtual >> reading these documents, you see they think strategically, they do alliances of convenience or alliances that help them sees -- seize both influence and power. could you see cooperation with isis in its current form? >> we should be wary that may be some factions within the isis could go back to the al qaeda fold. the isis literature and propaganda has been virulently
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anti-al qaeda for years. there are leaders within isis that have adopted basically, you are too soft, al qaeda. there are disagreements on tactics and methodology between the two organizations. i'm always on the lookout for collusion in any different countries, sort of a bargain between these different factions. i just don't think you will see a full-scale reconciliation of isis at all into al qaeda. isis has adopted its own methodology and messaging to its recruits that is distinctly different from one al qaeda has been saying. >> so more like the operations, cooperation of convenience on the battlefield in syria or libya, where they have been we're in this area so you stay n this area. >> isis killed one of the most senior al qaeda guys in syria. they sent a suicide bomber to kill him in 2014. they have had some pretty serious infighting between the two in different areas.
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one of the things to keep looking out for in all of this -- i mentioned this file earlier. they understand there is an ebb and flow to the fight. there are times when they are surging, times when they are retreating. the bottom line is to keep an ye on it at all times. the bottom line for us, ultimately, if the current white house spikes the football on isis, we will say you are wrong. just as the previous administration spike the football on al qaeda. it has a do with the details and the analysis going on, not any political messaging. that is the key here. > sir? >> my name is ken timmerman. were there any documents in this release relating to the 9/11 attacks? second, there was a great deal of information actually out in the public realm before 2011,
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which you mentioned, where he could of weaponize the iran-al aeda connection. there was a defector who warned -- walk in and warned about the upcoming attacks. i was involved in a lawsuit that won a $10 billion judgment against the islamic state of iran for their involvement in the 9/11 attacks, you have documents that came out in the 9/11 report. why do you think it is u.s. intelligence is consistently pushing back, until recently, on the iranian connection to al qaeda and the connection in the september 11 attacks? which was mentioned in the 9/11 commission. >> we have to be careful not to conflate the intelligence community pushing back and versus certain administrations pushing back. >> my quick answers are we are hunting for anything 9/11 related. seems like the cache is more
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dated. seems like it's a little more recent. we still have not gone through a great deal of it. when it comes to iran-al qaeda, you see this argument that it is to justify the iraq war, the bush administration was supposedly hyping connections to al qaeda. that is the reflexive thing we see in these arguments. that does not follow that we want a regime change in iran. we have watched iraq for how many years? this has been a nightmare. the fact that we would want another iraq war, are you kidding? the point is, reporting on the facts and what they are is a whole other issue. there is resistance for policy reasons mainly to admit that i iran and al qaeda colluded at times. politicization goes both ways. it can go in the direction of supporting a war, or the other ay where somebody decides they
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want to nix any ideas that are out there about an idea and play down real existing relationships. we are not trying to justify any war, we just want to understand what our enemies are doing. >> i was referring to the fact, if you read michael morel's book, he comes out with the narrative that is in these current -- this current release, it is a different narrative than al qaeda was on its heels, was the lion in winter watching the good old days and reruns on able tv. instead, this former deputy director of the cia, former acting director, said, we realize they were in touch in a very micromanaging way with their entire network. so what the intelligence community thought versus what the two administrations decided to release are different things. >>
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>> i was referring to the behavior of al qaeda. >> the book is very good on the point of what was bin laden doing the time he was killed. xplained prior to the raid, cia assessed that bin laden was basically giving up day-to-day control of al qaeda.xplained pr cia assessed that bin laden was after the raid, documents are scooped up, low and behold, they realize he was running the whole thing. that is clarifying language that is not just us nerds combing through the files. you have a senior official who says that is what the reality of these files were. that is the clean analysis. part of why we want these files out is to settle this once and for all. that narrative that took hold in 2012, we still see traces of it. you will find people making arguments. you still see people, that is
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not really al qaeda, that is a local group. by the way, the afghan taliban, we have some good stories coming from there. that is a very interesting set of files. i think there are uncomfortable truths in these files that make certain policy decisions difficult to execute. such as negotiations with the obama administration negotiating with the afghan taliban. evidence there of what al qaeda's view of that. that they viewed the individuals they were negotiating with were actually nobodies within the taliban. if there is evidence of al qaeda and taliban collusion in these documents, how can you release those documents if you want to push a policy of negotiating? it is not just iran. what if we expose -- we suspect we will see perhaps exposing that golden chain, the donors.
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we have not found the absolute proof of this yet. but if things like that are in these files, it makes executing policy in the middle east -- >> we found unnamed files from a saudi sheik that we will expose. corresponding pretty regularly with bin laden. he signed the letters, your loving brother. it is all about stuff inside saudi. this is the type of thing which is very fascinating about these files. who is that guy? why does he have a direct line to bin laden? why can he chastise bin laden for what he's doing? >> that will also be more embarrassing potentially to the obama administration, because they would have access to those files. if that guy is still active, did they ask the saudi government to crack down on him? >> it is not just the obama administration, but the whole thing. this is not about any one politician or political group.
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this is about what is the ground truth of these files, what do they expose? we are fighting in more places today than ever. we don't have large-scale troop truth of these files, what do deployments but we are fighting all of these areas. shouldn't we have more information about who we are fighting, who supported them, and why it keeps on going? isn't that important to discuss and debate and then figure out the best approach for countering it. we don't know how to win this yet. >> front row. >> thank you. embassy of afghanistan political counselor. uick question on the potential relationship, any negligence on the pakistani government, especially its military, to allow osama bin laden to be there, operate, operate from nder the nose of the pakistani
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military. was there anything the previous administration could have looked, had pakistan be held accountable, or did the trump administration use such evidence to have this new bold policy that puts pakistan in its place? >> first, we need the government of afghanistan to talk to me about osama bin laden. i have some questions about his current role in afghanistan. there are some interesting there -- things there. the pakistan situation is complex. you see, in fact, that al qaeda the insurgency in parts of the pakistani state and was directing this. that certain pakistani officials in the files, it shows that certain pakistani officials knew they wanted to negotiate a truce with the insurgents, they knew where to go. parts of the pakistani state and was directing this.
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that certain pakistani officials in the files, it shows they went through intermediaries with bin laden would suggest they knew he was close at hand. from what we see, there are these other groups, including the afghan taliban, which have been de facto sponsored by the isi, pakistani military. some of those groups are also deeply in bed with al qaeda and were a part of the bin laden support group and provides these cutouts that were helping to buttress what al qaeda was doing in pakistan. on the other hand, maintaining relationships with the pakistani state. they went through intermediaries our point is all that needs to be untangled. we have spent more time trying to untangle the question you had then any of the files. going through these files carefully. it is a very difficult web to untangle to get to the truth but we have been suspicious all along as everybody else. who knew he was there and how do we prove that? >> gentleman in the back of the room. reen jacket. >>

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