Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spent today on Capitol Hill testifying before two Congressional Committees about her knowledge of the Benghazi consulate attack. Her day began with Senate Foreign Relations Committee at 9:00 a.m., where she faced the administration's toughest critic on the matter (and brand-new committee member), Sen. John McCain. She also got into a rather heated exchange with Republican Senator Ron Johnson as she vigorously defended U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice.
At 2:00 p.m., she moved to the House side to meet their Foreign Affairs Committee, whose members were markedly less confrontational, but still informed by her testimony earlier in the day. She was scolded by several Republican Congressmen for not taking enough responsibility for the Benghazi attacks, and criticized by Rep. Jeff Duncan for asking, rhetorically, whether it actually matters how four Americans were killed in Benghazi.
Below you'll find our breakdown of the proceedings, featuring all the back-and-forth, important quotes now on the congressional record, video clips of the most heated moments, and some reactions from Twitter's chattering class. And here are some other thoughts. Enjoy:
5:03 PM: This:
How does it not violate the Geneva Convention to have 2 long congressional hearings in one day?!— Katrina Trinko (@KatrinaTrinko) January 23, 2013
5:01 PM: Hearing adjourned! People are taking pictures of Clinton with iPhones. Finis.
4:58 PM: Last question from Rep. Grace Meng. Chairs behind her are empty. Asks Clinton about he evolution of multilateralism in the State Department. Clinton discusses current efforts in Africa where U.S. has recognized governments it helped to establish.
4:57 PM: Clinton: "Marine security guards are very much a presence at more than fifty of our posts." Discusses how to use Marine security detachments better. With three minutes to go, questions and testimony are getting procedural.
4:54 PM: We agree with this tweet:
the house oversight committee definitely knows how to throw more exciting hearings than the foreign committee— Katrina Trinko (@KatrinaTrinko) January 23, 2013
4:50 PM: Rep. Tom Cotton to Clinton: "I wish you won the Democratic primary in 2008." (Cotton represents a district in Arkansas, the homestate of former President Bill Clinton.)
4:48 PM: Rep. Ami Bera: "Secretary Clinton, can you tell me how long it takes to read 1.4 million cables?"
4:43 PM: Clinton: "We're not going to know everything that caused [the Benghazi attacks] ... until the FBI completes its investigation."
4:42 PM: Rep. Mo Brooks is discussing statements made by UN Ambassador Susan Rice's comments on Meet the Press shortly after the Benghazi attacks.
4:38 PM: Clinton says that she learned to meet extremists and terrorists in the same channels they occupy — e.g.. television, social media, etc.
4:37 PM: Rep. Joe Kennedy — the one with the red hair — asks if Clinton could share any lessons she learned as Secretary of State.
4:35 PM: Clinton defers to the Accountability Review Board, saying that it found no undue delays during the Benghazi attacks. But: "I think it's very important that we do more to coordinate with DoD."
4:31 PM: Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Air Force pilot, is discussing his disappointment that his support of President Obama's Libya policy did not result in adequate military support following the Benghazi attacks.
4:29 PM: Moderator announces that Clinton is missing a meeting so that more Congresspeople can ask her questions.
4:23 PM: Clinton responds to Duncan by saying that she didn't keep the incident classified and specifically asked an Accountability Review Board to investigate the Benghazi attacks. Which reminds us of a prescient tweet we noticed:
"Sec. Clinton is the greatest secretary of state we have ever had." "I would have fired you." Voices of moderation in Congress.— Kevin W. Glass (@KevinWGlass) January 23, 2013
4:20 PM: Duncan is on a rant now. "You said you've taken responsibility, Madam Secretary. What does responsibility mean? You're still in your job!" Ends with: "What does responsibility mean to you, Madam Secretary?"
4:18 PM: Rep. Jeff Duncan says "Americans are angry" about Benghazi, and criticizes Clinton for her comment ("what difference, at this point does it make?") in this morning's Senate testimony.
4:14 PM: Rep. Juan Vargas: "My daughter wouldn't let me in the house [if I didn't say] you are a hero to women." (Also: "I was a Jesuit for five years.")
4:12 PM: Clinton says the three State Department agents are on administrative leave and are still being paid. Marino asks Clinton: "What's the hold up?"
4:08 PM: Rep. Tom Marino is displaying several similar flags photographed at protests throughout the Middle East, collected for a Department of Defense report, and asks Clinton is she was aware of the pattern the DoD report established that the flag was connected to al Qaeda-affiliated groups.
4:04 PM: Rep. Alan Grayson asks about the circumstances leading up to the Benghazi attacks, in particular Ambassador Chris Stevens' personal schedule. Clinton says Stevens was given "great deference" by the American government.
4:00 PM: Clinton "The intelligence community did not really zero in on the deteriorating environment in ... Benghazi" And: "We have work to do with our partners ... to constantly be taking in information, making sure it gets to the right people."
3:56 PM: Rep. Matt Salmon: "Eric Holder has repeatedly misled about an international gun-trafficking scheme"
3:55 PM: Clinton discusses establishing a Deputy Secretary of State that will monitor high-threat posts (such as Benghazi).
3:49 PM: Rep. Ted Poe asks if anyone has been arrested in connection to the Benghazi attacks. Clinton answers that a single person has been detained in Tunisia.
3:45 PM: Rep. Bill Keating asks about "cyber" threats, and Hillary agrees that such cyber-threats will proliferate in the near future.
3:42 PM: Clinton to McCaul: "1.4 million cables come to us each year, all of them addressed to me."
3:40 PM: McCaul: "Was this cable a surprise to you?" Clinton: "It was disappointing ... I was not aware of that going on, but obviously it's something we're fixing ... to make sure it doesn't happen again."
3:36 PM: Rep. Michael McCaul is reciting a record of nearby attacks that preceded the attacks on 9/11 in Benghazi, asks Clinton if she received a particular security cable from the consulate that warned of fractured security
3:34 PM: Clinton, answering Rep. Karen Bass: Africa is " increasingly important" to the mission of State Department.
3:32 PM: Clinton is explaining the intricacies of where Marine guards are stationed, and why they weren't stationed at Benghazi. (Because there wasn't any classified information stored there.)
3:30 PM: Clinton tells Wilson that she doesn't enjoy Sunday talk shows:
3:29 PM: South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson — of "you lie!" fame — tells Clinton it's "unfortunate" that what she said in the days following the Benghazi attacks turned out to be untrue.
3:26 PM: Clinton talks strategy: "We partner with willing governments ... in order to protect their own citizens"
3:23 PM: As Hillary speaks about the relationship between the State Department and the U.S. military, we'd like to note that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has authorized women to serve in combat:
BREAKING: Panetta removes military ban on women in combat, opening thousands of front line positions.— The Associated Press (@AP) January 23, 2013
3:21 PM: Rep. Ted Deutch invites Hillary Clinton to Florida after she steps down from Secretary of State.
3:19 PM: Rep. Steve Chabot: "Why would the department deny a personal plea from Ambassador Stevens?"
3:14 PM: Meeks asks how future attacks could be prevented. Clinton answers: "We cannot retreat from ... these Arab Spring regimes"; "We need to do a better job a counter-narrative to the extremeist, jihadist narrative"
3:12 PM: Rep. Gregory Meeks assails Congress for "failing to adequately fund the administration's request for diplomatic security funding"
3:09 PM: Rohrabacher says it is "disconcerting" that the U.S. would be worried about upsetting "terrorists"
Video of the exchange:
3:06 PM: Rep. Dana Rohrabacher presses Clinton about what she told the President about the nature of the attack. Clinton says she told President that it was an armed attack, not a film protest.
3:04 p.m.: Clinton: Libya has the will to help, but not the capacity. "We have to help build up their security capacity."
3:04 p.m.: Brad Sherman (D-CA): The best our security can do is hold of an attack for a few hours, and then it's up to the host country to come to the rescue. Q: "What do you think of Libya?"
2:58 p.m.: Clinton repeats earlier claim that cables about security did not come to her, and Ambassador Stephens did not personally ask her for assistance.
2:55 p.m.: Christopher Smith (R-NJ) is next. "When it comes to what you knew, there are disturbing parallels to [the embassy bombings in] Kenya and Tanzania." Also: "Were you personally, in any way, at fault?"
2:51 p.m.: Fleomavaega (a Democrat) also focuses on the funding, while also saying he "salutes" Clinton.
2:49 p.m.: Next: Eni Faleomavaega of American Samoa!
Fun Fact: Del. Faleomavaega would be Ranking Member of #HFAC if he was an actual representative.— Hayes Brown (@HayesBrown) January 23, 2013
2:47 p.m.: Clinton says she was not asked to speak to the ARB. I would have gladly discussed it, if they'd asked. She also says those 4 people were dismissed from their jobs, but that current law doesn't allow them to be fired because of the ARB.
2:43 p.m.: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) takes the next question. Q: "Why weren't you interviewed" for the ARB? How can it be complete without the Secretary? She also complains about reports that State employees were fired, which she says aren't true.
2:39 p.m.: Clinton says Congress has consistently created budget shortfalls, says "this is a bipartisan problem." She ask for "transfer authority" which would allow State to shift money already budgeted to other priorities without Congressional approval.
2:38 p.m.: Back to Engel, who returns to the spending cuts made by Congress on embassy construction and security. Q: "Do you think that Congress has provided adequate resources?" Suspect he knows the answer. He also brings up the sequester and the problems it may cause for State.
2:32 p.m.: Clinton: I was briefed on security incidents, but no one argued for withdrawing from Benghazi.
2:30 p.m.: Royce begins the questioning: "The dots were connected beforehand." Yet, security was not added, it was withdrawn. "If senior officials knew diplomats were not safe" why did they withdraw security? What "senior management" was responsible?
2:28 p.m.: Clinton: "When we suffer tragedies overseas, the number of Americans applying to the Foreign Service actually increases. That tells us everything we need to know about what kind of patriots I’m talking about"
2:24 p.m.: Sen. Ron Johnson dismisses Clinton's outburst from earlier (which was directed straight at him) as "theatrics."
2:14 p.m.: Clinton now gives her opening statement. It's basically the same statement she delivered in front of the Senate this morning, which you can read in full below (at 9:20 a.m.)
2:12 p.m.: Engel: "The administrations request for security funding has been slashed by half a billion dollars."
2:11 p.m.: Engel: "Whether it was called a terrorist attack in the aftermath is irrelevant."
2:10 p.m.: More background: Clinton's letter to Congress on the Accountability Review Board report on Benghazi.
2:09 p.m.: Ranking Member Eliot Engel gives his opening statement. "As a New Yorker, I feel especially proud of your work at Secretary of State."
2:07 p.m.: Royce says this discussion may turn to money, but he wonder how money can help in an organization plagued by "systemic failures." It's clear that Clinton will find a much more hostile audience on the Republican-led committee.
2:00 p.m.: The House Foreign Affairs Committee is coming to order with new Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) at the helm. "Our goal is to identify where State Department management broke down."
11:34 a.m.: That ends the Senate portion of the day. Come back 2:00 p.m. for the House hearing!
11:32 a.m.: Menendez wraps up the hearing by calling for more funding for the State Department. He says "What we know and what we don't know is equally important" and "we should know before we talk." Then he drops the WMD argument again. "There are lessons to be learned here."
11:30 a.m.: Here's a clip from Clinton somewhat testy exchange with John McCain.
11:27 a.m.: Tim Kaine: "How common is it to rely on private security in other countries?" Clinton explains that is common becuase the job of Marines is to protect classified material, not people.
11:25 a.m.: Tim Kaine is the only Democrat who doesn't fawn over Clinton and asks a decent question. "Why wasn't the Benghazi consulate formally cited as a embassy to the Libyan government and did that effect the response to the attack?" Clinton says it didn't matter to Libyans, but the temporary status may have created some uncertainty with the State Department (in regards to resources.)
11:24 a.m.: Some moral support from Libya....
Sorry #Hillary for what the idiots in my country have made u go through !— Rida (@libyanproud) January 23, 2013
11:23 a.m.: Clinton: "This committee can be a important part in this... Let's be smart about this."
11:22 a.m.: Clinton: This question "gets to the heart" of the issue. We need all come together, Congress, State, and outside experts. "We've got real assets if we deploy them right."
11:18 a.m.: Freshman Sen. Christopher Murphy of Connecticut asks his first hearing questions. "What are our expectations going forward in North Africa?"
11:17 a.m.: Clinton: "We've been as transparent as we can.... I said 'make it open' ... I believe in transparency. I take responsibility."
11:15 a.m.: Paul: "I don't think the State Department capable of protecting" diplomats in Libya. "You shouldn't send them in with no Marines."
11:14 a.m.: Paul: "Is the U.S. invovled in shipping weapons out of Libya to Turkey." Clinton's response: "To Turkey?" She seems stunned by the question; says she's never heard that.
11:13 a.m.: Paul: "I think it's inexcusable that you did not read these cables."
11:11 a.m.: Correction: Rand Paul is the last Republican. "People who make judgement errors should be fired and replaced. ... Had I been president ... I would have relieved you from your post." Here's more video of from that exchange:
11:09 a.m.: Udall asks about the 20 U.S. overseas missions that are "high risk" targets. Clinton says she wants to keep that classified. "It's a sliding scale" but I can give you "a long list of attacks averted."
11:07 a.m.: Tom Udall of New Mexico is up. Another Democrat, praises Clinton for her work on "cookstoves" which improve lives for third world people.
11:06 a.m.: Clinton: al Qaeda has been decimated, but we still have to deal with it offshoots and followers.
11:04 a.m.: Barrasso asks if other terrorists have been emboldened because no one has been brought to justice yet. Clinton says the FBI has several promising leads. "I don't think anybody should doubt this president at his word. It may take time, but nothing will divert him from the goal."
11:03 a.m.: Clinton: "We can get mired in the back and forth, but we can do more to prevent future tragedies and attacks by following the ARB."
11:00 a.m.: The last Republican to speak is John Barrasso of Wyoming, who is surprisingly complimentary to Clinton, but says "We should have been seeing these things" citing earlier attacks on the ambassador and consulate in Libya.
10:58 a.m.: Clinton: "I will not argue that there are inefficiencies in the department." Also: I have always ordered my people to do the best with what they can.
10:57 a.m.: Durbin: "You can't solve a problem by throwing money at it, unless the problem is lack of money."
10:55 a.m.: Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) defends Susan Rice. "Five words to reflect on: 'Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction'. We were told at every level of government" that's why we were invading Iraq. "They didn't exist. We can have a hearing on that if you like."
10:53 a.m.: Clinton: "Libya is still dangerous." We should do what we can to help them.
10:52 a.m.: Clinton counters the charge that security wasn't increased in Libya, by saying that there were numerous Congressional holds on State Department requests; Congresspeople were asking in 2011 why we were helping Libya at all.
10:51 a.m.: Clinton grows visibly annoyed with McCain's long speech. "We have a disagreement."
10:47 a.m.: Now McCain is up. "The American people deserve to know answers. They deserve to not get false answers." McCain isn't buying the explanation that investigation was ongoing and confusing. Also: "We did not provide security" in Libya.
10:41 a.m.: Here's the best moment so far (and one of the best you'll see in any Congressional hearing) ... Hillary Clinton goes off on Sen. Ron Johnson:
10:40 a.m.: Christopher Coons (D-Del.) is up now.
10:37 a.m.: A clip from earlier: Clinton chokes up when talking about the Americans who died in the attack.
10:35 a.m.: Flake complains that Americans were not given a clear picture. Clinton: "We didn't have a clear picture. Maybe we didn't do a good enough job of explaining that we didn't have a good picture."
10:33 a.m.: Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) goes back to Rice. Asks if Clinton was consulted before she was chosen to go on Sunday morning shows. Clinton says no, but using Rice as a spokesperson would not have been unusual.
10:33 a.m.: The State Department (@StateDept) is backing up Clinton's testimony with live tweet to documents she is mentions, including the unclassified version of the ARB.
Read the unclassified Accountability Review Board Report here: go.usa.gov/4WyY— StateDept (@StateDept) January 23, 2013
10:29 a.m.: Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) is after Johnson. Like most Democrats she agrees with Clinton that Congress needs to give State more resources to implement the ARB.
10:26 a.m.: Clinton getting angry as Johnson continues to harp on Rice. She lean forward in her chair and raises her voice when Johnson tries to challenge her on misleading info. "We had four dead Americans!... Whether it was attack preplanned by terrorists or it because of a guy out for a walk one night .. what difference does it make?"
10:25 a.m.: On charge that Rice was intentionally misleading: "Nothing could be further from the truth."
10:23 a.m.: Johnson is asking about the people who were evacuated from Libya immediately after the attack. Wants to know why they weren't interviewed immediately, because they could have told you State that it wasn't a "spontaneous protest." Johnson adds that he thinks Rice "intentionally misled" the American people. Clinton says the FBI interviewed them first, and State wanted to wait until that was over.
10:22 a.m.: Next questioner: Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) "Were you aware of all the security incidents in Benghazi [before the 9/11 attack] in real time?" She says no, but most were brought to her attention.
10:21 a.m.: Clinton: "We have to act [on the ARB] or shame on us."
10:19 a.m.: Clinton: Help us with funding for more security personnel.
10:18 a.m.: A: Keep us accountable; keep pointing out the changes that are made (to stop people [aka Bob Corker] from saying that no changes are being made.)
10:16 a.m: Casey says there are 64 action items from the ARB; 85 percent on track to be completed by March. Q: What impediments to implementation do you perceive?" How can Congress help you?
10:15 a.m.: Sen. Bob Casey (D-Penn.) has plenty of more praise for Clinton. Mention stopping the flow of ammonium nitrate that comes out of Pakistan for bombs.
10:13 a.m.: Clinton: "Of course" we discussed it. It was an ongoing discussion after the fall of Qaddffi. She says the Libyans were very responsive but didn't have the resources, unlike Tunisia and Egypt, which had the resources but had to be goaded to put them in the field. Clinton complains again that the committee did not give State the money to beef up security.
10:11 a.m.: Q: Did issue come up, if the Libya could offer adequate security? Clinton: "They were not in a position" to meet their requirements as a host country. They did have militias that they were using to "piece together" what a host nation can do.
10:10 a.m.: Marco Rubio is up now. Q: "Were you asked to participate in any meeting" about the deteriorating security situation in Libya?
10:08 a.m.: Clinton: "This Pandora's Box of weapons coming out of the region" is one of our biggest threats.
10:05 a.m.: Cardin asks if there's a plan to deal weapson coming out of Syria, should the Assad regime collapse.
10:04 a.m.: Next: Ben Cardin (D-Maryland)
10:04 a.m.: Risch: I gather you stand by your statement that "heavily armed militants" attacked the compound and you will bring them to justice. Clinton: Yes.
10:03 a.m.: Clinton says "I wasn't involved in the talking points process... It was an intelligence process."
10:02 a.m.: Clinton says she didn't pick Rice, but at the time there was still a lot unknown. Clinton also says that the classified version of the ARB explains that even today, the exact nature of the attack is still murky. "I personally was not focused on talking points. I was focused on keeping people safe."
10:00 a.m.: Risch comes back to the 'act of terror' phrase. Asks if Clinton selected Susan Rice to talk about the attack to the American people on the Sunday morning after the attack.
9:59 a.m.: Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho) asks about the report that some of the attackers in the Algeria hostage crisis were involved in the Benghazi attack. Clinton says that cannot be confirmed. Report from Algerian sources.
9:56 a.m.: Clinton: "We need a better strategy" on Northern Africa.
9:54 a.m.: Boxer also asked about Mali. Clinton: "This was a country that was making progress toward democracy" but unfortunately suffered a coup. Then they it was overrun by rebels and weapons that came out of Libya after the fall of Qaddafi. Says they are trying to create a coalition of African and French forces. "We cannot permit Mali to be a safe haven."
9:53 a.m.: Clinton says that the funds given to State by Congress were "inadequate" to implement the ARB.
9:52 a.m.: Boxer mostly complains that her committee hasn't given State the money it needs to implement the recommendations of the ARB. Finally, ends by asking how State can work more closely with the Department of Defense.
9:50 a.m.: Sen. Barabra Boxer (D-CA) is next. She begins by praising Clinton for advocating for women around the world. She then begins to discuss the Accountability Review Board that looked into the Benghazi attack.
9:49 a.m.: Clinton: "This [terrorism] is a global movement. We can kill leaders, but until we help establish democratic institutions ... we're going to be faced with his level of instability."
9:47 a.m.: Clinton says that four years ago, no one could have predicted such "revolutionary change in this region." Even the people in these countries were unprepared for democracy.
9:46 a.m.: Corker: "We were woefully unprepared for what happened in North Africa."
9:45 a.m.: Clinton says it's not accurate when Corker complains that security recommendations have been ignored.
9:44 a.m.: Clinton says she's changing the process so that the Secretary and her deputies would be more deeply involved.
9:43 a.m.: Ranking Member Bob Corker goes next. His question: What specific security requests could have been made before the attack? He interrupts to mention a specific request that was ignored by her subordinates. Clinton says those specific requests did not come to her.
9:42 a.m.: Clinton ends her answer by emphasizing that while they were trying to find out about Benghazi, they were also dealing with "violence" and attacks on other embassies, including Egypt.
9:40 a.m.: Clinton chokes up again when talking about having to call the families of two of the dead Americans.
9:40 a.m.: Clinton says she was at the State Department all day and all night. They were initially concerned about the protesters at the embassy in Cairo. She says she was notified of the Benghazi attack shortly after 4 p.m. on September 11. Clinton also lists off all the people she spoke to and meetings she held, including National Security Advisor Tom Donilon who she spoke to "several times." They were "reaching out to everyone they can find" to get information on Stephens.
9:35 a.m.: Now it's time questions. Menendez goes first: "What were your actions the night of the attack?"
9:33 a.m.: Clinton finishes up her opening statement: "I know that you share our sense of responsibility and urgency. And while we all may not agree on everything, let’s stay focused on what really matters: protectingour people and the country we all love."
9:30 a.m.: Clinton chokes up as she reads this next part: "For me, this is not just a matter of policy… it’s personal. I stood next to President Obama as the Marines carried those flag-draped casketsoff the plane at Andrews. I put my arms around the mothers and fathers, sistersand brothers, sons and daughters."
9:29 a.m.: Clinton: "We cannot afford to retreat now. When America is absent, especially from unstable environments, there are consequences. Extremism takes root, our interests suffer, and our security at home is threatened."
9:27 a.m.: "Benghazi didn’t happen in a vacuum." Clinton also mentions Mali and the recent attack in Algeria. "We remain in close touch with the Government of Algeria and stand ready to provide assistance if needed."
9:26 a.m.: Clinton: "We are taking a top-to-bottom look, and rethinking how we make decisions onwhere, when, and how our people operate in high threat areas, and how we respondto threats and crises."
9:24 a.m.: Clinton's statement addresses the confusion over the President's use of the phrase "act of terror" in the first hours after the attack. "You may recall that in that same period, we also saw violent attacks on ourembassies in Cairo, Sanaa, Tunis, and Khartoum, as well as large protests outsidemany other posts where thousands of our diplomats serve.So I immediately ordered a review of our security posture around the world, withparticular scrutiny for high-threat posts."
9:22 a.m.: One addition from Clinton: Since 1977, 65 embassy personnel have been killed in overseas posts.
9:20 a.m.: Clinton now begins her opening statement. Foreign Policy has the prepared text.
9:18 a.m.: Corker finishes by mentioning a discussion of how foreign aid is spent. He says that cost is a problem for embassy security, but the committee doesn't get a chance to authorize or examine funds.
9:17 a.m.: Corker is obviously more critical (but polite!) as he is the first to mention Ambassador Chris Stephens, who was killed in the Benghazi attack. Corker also discusses his concerns about al-Qaeda in Africa.
"obviously there was a lot of spin from the white house … a denial of the world as it really is today" more corker #benghazi— john r stanton (@dcbigjohn) January 23, 2013
9:13 a.m.: Menendez wraps up by thanking Clinton again and noting that she's the "most traveled" Secretary of State in history. Then he turns over it to Bob Corker, the Ranking Member of the Republican side.
9:10 a.m.: The opening statement by Menendez (a Democrat) is very flattering to Clinton, thanking her for her service. He also spends most of his time talking about the report of the review board, which looked at lapses in embassy security and recommendations for future changes..
9:02 a.m.: Clinton takes her seat in front of an army of photographers. Sen. Bob Menendez is the chair of the committee and will lead the proceeding.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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