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Burning Torture Tapes Is Good For America

Is any one getting tired of the usual line from the Whitehouse as they try to get forgiveness for their transgressio ns? Before you jump into this blurb from today’s Whitehouse Press Briefing given by the vivacious and lovely Dana Perino, be sure to put on your deja vu goggles. If you think you have heard these deflections before, it’s because you have.

Let’s have a look:

Q Dana, there’s an ongoing debate in the country about sort of where the lines are, as regards torture, and — or enhanced interrogatio n. And I’m wondering if you feel that this report — which I don’t think anyone’s contesting that the destruction of the tapes took place — does this undermine the administrati on’s position?

MS. PERINO: I think I would say — I would take this opportunity, though, to take a step back and remind people about this interrogatio n program, which was put in place to deal with a very limited number of people; the most intransigent of terrorists. This program has saved lives. It is legal, safe, effective; it is limited, it is tough, and it has led to the capture of individuals — terrorists — who had information that was able to lead us to others. These are the — General Hayden has talked about this several times, in terms of how many people — we had this debate earlier this year, and the program is critical to the safety of the country.

Q And if it’s so defensible, then why destroy any part of it?

MS. PERINO: Again, I’m not going to comment on that. The CIA has made its comment. They’ve said that they — that the agency made its decision, and it was based — and it was done in consultation with their legal counsel. And let’s let the CIA Director gather those facts, and we’ll see what they come up — what they say after that.

Q Dana, what were the circumstance s of General Hayden telling the President about this? Was it a report? Was Bush asking about the report? Was it –

MS. PERINO: All I know, Wendell, is that yesterday in the President’s briefing with the intelligence folks, of which General Hayden is the one who comes to brief the President, that’s when he was told about it.

Q Dana, when you say the President supports General Hayden, you’re specifically singling out the current director, not the previous one who actually made the decision –

MS. PERINO: Well, I didn’t ask the President about that. But I don’t have any reason for — I think — I don’t think that we have any reason to doubt what the CIA’s legal counsel — the advice that they gave to the CIA at the time. I said I think that those facts need to be gathered before that can be said.

Wow, if it really was safe, and good for saving lives, where’s the proof and why did they need to destroy the tapes? Sounds awful fishy to me. Of course, they are not going to comment any further beyond the comments they are shoveling that try to absolve the president and his administrati on of any wrongdoing, and try to convince us, once again, that torture is good for America, but not her enemies.

Any one out there holding their breath for a full explanation of the leak about Valarie Plame case should know full well that there will be no forthcoming explanation about this matter either. You see, the President has a whole series of promises broken to prove me right. Near as I can tell Scooter’s case is closed, but has the President explained what really happened in the Whitehouse around the Plame controversy?   Nope.

Well, then. No comment during an on going investigatio n really means “fuck you America, we don’t have to explain nothing to you…” or am I getting my translation mixed up.

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25 Responses to “Burning Torture Tapes Is Good For America”

  1. I am sick and tired of these thugs ignoring the obvious and using skewed logic to explain their actions. KO’s Special Comment last night tore apart Perino and Bush’s weak-assed excuses and explanations .

  2. Why is it so important for the democrats to show this to the rest of the world? How does this possibly help them or us for that matter?

    Actually I like how Dana Perino tore Helen Thomas a new one last week.

  3. Perino looked like a bully when Helen nailed her the other day..which is what most of the Rethugs in office are come to think of it. When someone asks them something they can’t explain away..they get mean and nasty.

    Its amazing to me that like most Rethug supporters.. you lisa, continue to want to hide any wrongdoing by this administrati on and its minions.

  4. Lisa,

    As to who was tearing whom a new one is in the eye of the beholder now isn’t it?

    What is it exactly about Dana and this administrati on that causes you to find them credible and trustworthy?   I would really like to know.

  5. Lisa,

    You ask why the Democrats think it so important to show the nation just what the administrati on means when it talks about “enhanced interrogatio n techniques” which it denies are torture. It is one thing to read or listen to a verbal description of these, especially since we only have people’s word vouching for any description of any given technique and even if the verbal descriptions are completely accurate, it is impossible to fully grasp the effects of them, to fully comprehend from those descriptions what a person subjected to those enhanced techniques experiences. Not unless one has actually experienced those techniques and very few Americans have apart from training that some soldiers go through to train them to resist, um, enhanced interrogatio n techniques being administered upon them by an enemy.

    While watching a tape of a person being subjected to such interrogatio ns would likewise not let the viewer experience them first hand but it would give the viewer a much clearer idea of the effect of those techniques upon a real human being. It would, I suspect, also bring into sharp focus for the American people just how far different from what most Americans think of as the “American way” are the interrogatio n techniques that Americans have used upon our enemies.

    I imagine that just watching such interrogatio ns would sicken most Americans…th is is not exactly the sort of thing the Bush administrati on would like to have happen. The reaction of Americans to the Abu Ghraib photos was bad enough. I suspect that, compared to those photos, the taped interrogatio n sessions would have been much worse.

    And that’s just the reaction of Americans. Now imagine if the rest of the world, particularly the Muslim world, got a glimpse of what Bush & Co. had done to other Americans…

    Remember the reaction around the world to the Muhammad cartoons or to the charge that interrogator s had thrown a detainee’s Koran into a toilet or that a guard had urinated on a Koran?

    There’s no way the administrati on would allow those tapes to see the light of day if it could help it. Given the “leaks like a sieve” nature of some in the government with respect to anything, no matter how secret or sensitive, as long as it will damage Bush, these tapes simply had to be destroyed. There’s no way they would not have ended up as story number one on ever news organization  , 24/7, if they had merely tried to hide their existence.

  6. Ack! The third paragraph from the end above reads:

    And that’s just the reaction of Americans. Now imagine if the rest of the world, particularly the Muslim world, got a glimpse of what Bush & Co. had done to other Americans…

    It should read:

    And that’s just the reaction of Americans. Now imagine if the rest of the world, particularly the Muslim world, got a glimpse of what Bush & Co. had done to other Muslims…

  7. Lisa,

    That’s a lot of words but the short version is, bringing those tapes out into the light of day would do more damage to Bush and Republicans than all the leaks published in the past nearly seven years combined. If it screws up Bush’s war on terror and the improving situation in Iraq, all the better. Maybe we’ll go back to treating terrorism as a strictly legal matter, apart from the occasional missile at an aspirin factory.

  8. Craig,
    I’m a bit confused here. Are you saying the tapes should be brought out to show Americans what the Administrati on has been doing, or that they shouldn’t to prevent world opinion turning further against America? If the latter, it’s not the tapes that are the problem, but the torture, sorry, aggressive interrogatio n they show.

  9. The fact is that the CIA is not an arm of the administrati on. It is an independent agency that acts of it’s own accord. It is accountable to the Congress and does take direction from the WH but as has been witnessed with the recent NIE, acts on its own accord.

    In other words, it is not as if the President is conducting interogation s or taping or destroying tapes. The CIA has much to answer for and I am in agreement that the destruction of these tapes should be investigated . I do feel that the presence of these tapes could do harm to the US for reasons put forth my Craig, however the horse is out of the barn now anyway.

    It is not unusual for the CIA and the administrati on to be at odds. Look at the relationship between Tenent and Clinton for example. The relationship between the CIA and congress has historically been rocky as well.

    The conundrum is that we need accurate intelligence and the people we need it from (our enemies and potential enemies) are not posting this information on their websites. Sometimes the intelligence we seek requires means that are not savory to our societal sense of fair play. This is what I was referring to when I said in a previous post that Congress needs to address this. There needs to be a meeting of the minds about the type of intelligence we wish to obtain and the methods we are willing to use to obtain it. If we are to tell the CIA that they are not to break the law to obtain intelligence then we have to be willing to live (or die) with that. It is like the freedoms debate. The more freedom we have the more we expose ourselves to those who will exploit that in order to do harm. The mall shooting in Neb. is a good example. Do we want to have military style guards in our malls and metal detectors at every door? Perhaps we should have airport style screening to enter. While this would cut down on the risk of mall shooters do we want to accept this level of security in order to feel more safe. The same is true for those we employ to spy on the rest of the world in order to secure more intelligence . In a perfect world we not need to spy on other to remain safe however we do not live in that world.
    I am not advocating one way or the other. On one hand I would prefer that we cut back on all levels of security to keep more freedom and take our chances. On the other is the realization that there are those that will exploit this and the level of saftey we now enjoy would almost certaintly be a thing of the past.

    I see as an analogy to the CIA the buying of a pit bull for protection. It might do the job you desired, but it has the potential to cause you just as much harm as good.

  10. Paul,

    Sorry. I wrote those comments in a particularly cynical moment. Bringing the tapes out into public view, if they still existed would do great damage, not only to the administrati on, about which I really don’t care — I long ago decided that if they get impeached and prosecuted that I wasn’t against that — but it would also do great damage to the country, our military, our anti-terrori st efforts and perhaps in the lives of Americans lost to terrorists. You and I, we established long ago, differ in the opinion about whether torture should ever be used and so I am less likely to think that the tapes, if they existed, should be made public. There ought to be ways to deal out punishment for wrongdoing on the part of individuals without publicly damaging the nation by publicizing what was done wrong.

    However, it may very well be that destroying those tapes constitutes obstruction of justice since at least one congressiona l investigator y agency asked for any such evidence and the government assured at least one judge that no such videos existed. Given this, it does appear to me that that’s exactly what it is. This must be investigated  , prosecuted and tried. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think that should be done in a way that every bit of information becomes public. There should be a way to try the wrongdoers without further sensational and highly damaging images being made public.

  11. Manapp99,

    The CIA is an Article II administrati on. That is, an arm of the executive branch. Laws governing its action are either made by Congress or are made by the administrati on and passed by Congress and its head is selected by the President and confirmed or not by the Senate. Given that the Constitution places all executive authority in a single individual, the President of the United States, the CIA is an arm of the Executive Branch, i. e., an arm of the administrati on. That is, it isn’t connected to the Legislative or Judicial Branch and it isn’t a separate branch of government. How much independence it retains, therefore, depends upon how independent the intelligence chiefs decide to make it. Do you really think that KSM was waterboarded without the President’s knowledge and express orders? At whose desk does the buck stop, anyway, within the executive branch?

  12. When the President uses the term “congression al oversight,” that’s a ploy to trick you into thinking that he’s involving congress in the decisions he makes to violate our rights as granted by the Constitution of the USA. The CIA is subject to congressiona l oversight, not governed by congress. Last I checked, it was the president who hired the CIA director and this person reports direct to him. Sounds like the President is trying to shirk culpability one more time. No surprises with this guy. The astonishing thing is that there are still apologists out there like ManApp who think that the W, Rove and Co is looking out for some one other than themselves. Why do you still find the President trust worthy Man?

  13. Craig, from wiki ( I know they are not totally reliable but…)

    “The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. Its primary function is obtaining and analyzing information about foreign governments, corporations  , and persons in order to advise public policymakers . Additionally  , the agency sometimes engages in propaganda and public relations efforts.[5] It also serves as the government’s paramilitary hidden hand via covert operations at the direction of the President and under oversight by Congress.[6] Its headquarters is in the community of Langley in the McLean CDP of Fairfax County, Virginia, a few miles northwest from downtown Washington, D.C. along the Potomac River. The CIA is part of the U.S. Intelligence Community, led by the Director of National Intelligence  (DNI). The role and functions of the CIA are roughly equivalent to those of the United Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) and Israel’s Mossad.

    The CIA is sometimes referred to euphemistica lly in government and military parlance as Other Government Agencies (or OGA), particularly when its operations in a particular area are an open secret.[7][8  ] Other terms include The Company and The Agency.”

    Yes, direction of the president but oversight by congress. They are kind of jointly owned.

    Other government agency. This is due to the fact that THEY do not feel that they answer to anyone.

    From the CIA website:

    The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is an independent US Government agency responsible for providing national security intelligence to senior US policymakers .”

    Note the word independent.

    I think it entirely possible that KSM was interrogated without the presidents knowledge. I heard yesterday that one of the subjects of the tapes destroyed was the fellow who gave up KSM.

    Then there is this from the NYT’s:

    “Current and former intelligence officials said that the decision to destroy the tapes was made by Jose Rodriguez Jr., who was the head of the Directorate of Operations, the agency’s clandestine service. Rodriguez could not be reached Thursday for comment.

    Two former intelligence officials said that Porter Goss, the director of the agency at the time, was not told that the tapes would be destroyed and was angered to learn that they had been.”

    If the CIA director did not know about the destruction of the tapes it is hardly likely that the President did.

    Then there is this:

    “In his statement, Hayden said leaders of congressiona l oversight committees had been fully briefed about the existence of the tapes and told in advance of the decision to destroy them. But the two top members of the House Intelligence Committee in 2005 said Thursday that they had not been notified in advance of the decision to destroy the tapes.”

    So we have a pissing match about who knew what when and who is lying now. Did the CIA brief congress? If so we need to investigate the congressiona l oversight committee.

    This also illustrates that the CIA does indeed have to answer to congress, not just the president.

  14. Wind says:

    “The astonishing thing is that there are still apologists out there like ManApp who think that the W, Rove and Co is looking out for some one other than themselves. Why do you still find the President trust worthy Man?”

    I have not before nor am I now apologizing for the President. Apologize for what? Doing his best to try to protect us?

    I find the president a worthy man because he is a worthy man. I cannot help it if you do not see this. You keep coming up with statements like this:

    “When the President uses the term “congressi on al oversight, that’s a ploy to trick you into thinking that he’s involving congress in the decisions he makes to violate our rights as granted by the Constitution of the USA. ”

    But you have no basis for this statement other than your hatred for the man. You are not concerned with facts, IMO, just gotcha moments. Only problem is that your moments fall short of gotcha.

  15. Well, I don’t think anyone denies that the CIA and other agencies of intelligence gathering and analysis are answerable to Congress. So is the President answerable to Congress. It is, after all, the House that decides whether to impeach the president and the Senate that tries him or her. That doesn’t answer the question, of which branch is the CIA an arm? “At the direction of…” is the operative phrase, here, at least in my opinion. They are under the direction of the President, they are an arm of the executive. That Congress has oversight is a function of checks and balances built into the Constitution but the CIA is an executive branch administrati on, just as police officers fulfill executive branch functions. They too are under the oversight of the legislative branch to the extent that legislatures make the laws that such officers must obey and the judiciary tries those who fail to obey the legislatures ’ laws but they are still executive branch officers and agencies. We criticize the Congress for failures to properly oversee the agency’s conduct. We criticize the judiciary for either too harshly or not harshly enough punishing those who disobey the law but it is the executive branch that makes policy that puts into effect the laws which Congress enacts and which the judiciary judges. If those policies are faulty, it is the executive that we criticize.

    I think the point that we are trying to make is that there are lines which must be drawn in a free republic. Even those of us that come down on emphasizing security over liberty must keep a skeptical eye on the Executive Branch’s effects on liberty or we may cease being a free republic. Hitler was elected in a free republic. What that republic turned into under Hitler was anything but free.*

    * No, I’m not saying that Bush and Hitler are soul mates or that Bush is Hitler or that I think Bush is likely to turn America into something that is not a free republic; I’m saying that we security first-ers must, nevertheless  , concern ourselves about the negative effects on liberties that security policies unquestionab ly have. I’m also not saying that you aren’t concerned about liberty. You have, after all, said that the destruction of the tapes needs to be investigated and, presumably, punished if the destruction of those tapes obstructed justice as, it seems to me, appears to be the case. All I’m really saying is that the intelligence agencies of this country are Article II agencies under the operational direction of the President. Any time the CIA or other agencies become so independent that they cease to be under the direction of our elected President or under the oversight of our elected Congress or think themselves above check by the Judiciary, they become a real danger to our nation.

  16. What I am driving at here Craig is that the CIA is not directly directed by the administrati on. Perhaps they are supposed to be but in reality they operate pretty much on their own often time to the consternatio n or the President. The recent NIE is an example. In the 90’s the CIA instigated the “rendition program” . Now you may say that Clinton intiated the program but in reality the CIA did this on their own. Look at this story:

    http://www.b  / p?id=0512281 61155.nt4rpl 2e&show_arti cle=1

    And this line:

    “President Clinton, his national security advisor Sandy Berger and his terrorism advisor Richard Clark ordered the CIA in the autumn of 1995 to destroy Al-Qaeda,” Scheuer said, in comments published in German.

    “We asked the president what we should do with the people we capture. Clinton said ‘That’s up to you’.”

    My contention is that the CIA does much that only the CIA knows and plays shadow games with the congress the president. I am not condoning this I am addressing the CIA/Presiden tial link. and come to the conclusion that the tape incident was a CIA thing and not a President Bush thing.

  17. Manapp99,

    I think I fully understand you.

    But… “That’s up to you” is a pretty troubling executive policy, especially given the secrecy that a spy organization must operate under. It’s also pretty dangerous to human rights. And by his “That’s up to you” attitude, Clinton instituted whatever it was they came up with, in my opinion, whether he ever knew what it was that they came up with or not. “That’s up to you,” cannot be used as an excuse to avoid responsibili ty for whatever it is they came up with, in this case, rendition. Also, given the various memos that have come to light within the Administrati on regarding things like waterboardin g, forcing of detainees into sustained uncomfortabl e conditions, sleep deprivation, belly-slaps, face-slaps, holding detainees naked in air-conditio ned cells and so forth, Bush cannot avoid responsibili ty for whatever the CIA did and then videotaped. If he’s getting legal opinions on these things, it can only be because he is contemplatin g using such techniques and trying to cover his own ass and the asses of those who will be overseeing the interrogatio n of detainees. I get that you’re not condoning but describing. He might have not had direct knowledge of the videotapes but if he didn’t, he implicitly paved the way for their existence and for whatever damaging images might have been on them. Anyway, this has been an interesting conversation . Thanks.

  18. In other words, if the president refuses to give direction to the intel agencies, he’s stuck with responsibili ty for whatever it is that they do. That’s my opinion.

  19. Man, it isn’t about hatred. I simply don’t trust the man whatsoever. You’ve forgiven him for the penultimate bait and switch that was WMD in Iraq. I have not. Too many people have died for not one ounce more “protection. ” I find him completely untrustworth y. You find him worthy, but worthy of what? There is a substantial difference between following by faith versus following based on fact. And you place way too much faith in a man who has not earned nor deserves it. Trust takes a lifetime to earn and a moment to break. And W and his pals in charge have lost mine, because I actually believed them when they said there was WMD in Iraq. When it turned out that there were not, I have no basis to trust them further. You know the famous quote, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice….”well  , can’t get fooled again.”

    You offer nothing but conjecture and provide no facts worthy to trust that sway me in my thinking. No, it’s not hatred that I harbor. I have great sympathy for the man. I think you are right when you think he thinks he’s doing right by the country, but the facts and action prove otherwise.

    I find the president a worthy man because he is a worthy man.

    really? Where’s the proof that substantiate s this placement of worth? Faith is a poor arbiter of what is right and good and ethical for our American society. Simply because you judge him to be worthy of something doesn’t make it so.

    The fact that tens of thousands of GIs and Civilians were killed or harmed for the WMD and freedom spreading experiment that W, calls a “noble” cause, indeed, makes him worthy of something, and that is disdain, and incredulity as a man who is doing right by America.

    In fact, I could make a credible argument that indeed, George Bush is not only bad for America, but has caused us great harm for his actions. I’m still waiting for you to prove to me that he is worthy of being trusted once again. I gave it to him once, and was wronged in a huge way. It’s going to take an equally sizable heroic act on his part to convince me that he is worthy of my trust and faith again….

  20. […] windspike: Man, it isn’t about hatred. I simply don’t trust the man whatsoever. You’ve forgiven him… […]

  21. Craig we agree more than disagree here. The problem with being held accountable with the CIA is in the very nature of the business. When an organization is charged with the doing the nations espionage you are going to have an organization that by neccessity will have to operate much of the time in the shadows and will have to be distrustful of everyone including those they work for. We have seen those in their very own agency that have been working for the other side. If for instance you had congressiona l members working for the enemy it would be incumbent on the CIA to try and ferret them out. Perhaps even a president or vice president may need to be investigated for espionage. I do not know but supect that the CIA only takes direction from the president or come clean to the oversight of congress partially. In this case however the CIA SAYS they briefed the congressiona l committe about the tapes and the impending destruction. This is the crux of the issue as far as the tapes are concerned. They either did or did not and one would think there would be congressiona l record if they did. Perhaps there is no record as far as the CIA goes for the same secrecy reasons but one would think it would be easy enough for a reporter to find out. If the president should have known about the tapes or destruction thereof one can only speculate, however I do not see how the president would know if the CIA did not want him to know. But I agree that with some things, the blame/credit will lay at the feet of the President regardless as the buck does stop there.

    Windspike, you play the same old song about the president lying to you about WMD in spite of the evidence to the contrary. This ties in to the conversation in that the CIA failed in gaining accurate intelligence and everybody, Dems included bought it. This is like the current situation with Iran. Do they or do they not have a nuclear weapons program ongoing today. I think it is safe to say we don’t know. This is a failure of the ability to gain correct intelligence which I am sure is very difficult to get. This is not about anyone lying and neither was the intel on WMD in Iraq. I wonder why you hang on to the same old lies about bait and switch. It just simply is not true. I know of no instance where the president lied to us about anything. I know of where he was wrong about things and made mistakes in the prosecution of the war but I also believe he did what he thought was correct and followed the best advice available. Yes there were those that said to not invade Iraq, but there were plenty saying to invade. He had to make a decision that no one else could make for him and did so. You have to throw out the rhetoric about war for oil or war for halliburton and the other ridiculous charges and get down to substance. This president like others before him are faced with the charge of having to make life and death decisions for 300 million people here and hundreds of millions worldwide. An awesome task. You can easily judge the outcome of a mans actions looking back but it is not so easy to judge what a man goes through having to make these decisions without the benefit of hindsight.
    If/when Iraq becomes a peaceful member of the world with freedom for it’s citizens, will you revise you criticisms?

  22. Manapp99,

    For me, the crux of the tapes issue is this: (1) When Congress was investigatin g intelligence practices, was it obstruction of justice to have failed to have turned those tapes over and (2) When the judge and defense in the trial of a terrorist suspect asked any material pertinent to interrogatio n methods to be turned over and they were told that no video tapes of interrogatio ns were in existence, did that constitute obstruction of justice and (3) did whoever decided to destroy the tapes know that those tapes had been sought in a congressiona l investigatio n and a trial because if so, that person and any other person who knew about those things and their destruction are guilty of destroying evidence. I strongly suspect that somebody’s going to prison over this matter.

  23. Man,
    What’s the difference between wanting to go to war with Iraq and finding the reasons to do so, and not wanting to go to war with Iraq and then finding a reason to do so? My bet is that the W, Rove and Co wanted to go to war with Iraq and was searching for every possible and plausible reason to do so, not the other way around.

    It’s starting to occur with Iran as well - only this time, hopefully, the American people will put a halt to this notion of preemptive war as a good thing for America.

    Any time some one destroys a tape, there has to be a solid reason for doing so. We may never know what was on those tapes, but my money goes to the wager that it wasn’t favorable to the W, Rove and Co espoused policy that “we don’t torture.” There in lies the problem, which makes Bush even less trust worthy. The evidence leans heavily in favor of not trusting rather than trusting Bush. Some one in the Whitehouse knows what was on those tapes. We will never know, but it couldn’t have been good because if it was, you can bet they would have shown them on Fox News pronto.

  24. Wind you say:

    “My bet is that the W, Rove and Co wanted to go to war with Iraq and was searching for every possible and plausible reason to do so, not the other way around”

    Given that the previous administrati on had made regime change in Iraq a formal policy. Given that Iraq was in violation of all UN sanctions and given that the President of Iraq had tried to assasinate Bush 41, it would have been foolish to not have war plans for Iraq NOT on the drawing table. No?

    Iran is Iran so we will have to cross that bridge when we get to it. The American people have no real say in the matter. Nor should they. We do not have the information, right or wrong, that our elected leaders have nor should we. This is why we live in a representati ve form of government, to elect people to disemble information and make decisions about how to proceed.

    The tapes, according to the story linked in another post were destroyed by the CIA and the director at the time did not even know about the destruction. When he found out he was pissed. It is highly doubtful that if the director did not know that the president did.
    Once again you have no evidence to lean on just your “gut feelings” which have not been right so far so why do you trust them now?

  25. I meant….it would have been foolish to NOT have war plans on the drawing table. Illegal use of a double negative and no oversight on my comments lead to this error.

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