tv Discussion on White Supremacy in Law Enforcement Military CSPAN October 13, 2021 1:07pm-1:56pm EDT
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>> thank you so much daniela, pleasure to be here. first i want to introduce both our panelists running with senator jones i want to welcome former us senator for alabama senator don jones who will be one of our two panelists in today's conversation. as the us attorney for alabama senator jones prosecuted 2 kkk members for their role in the 1963 16th street baptist church bombing and has been a prominent civil rightsadvocate throughout his career . notably senator jones has joined action as a distinguished senior fellow focusing on racial equity and social justice issues as well as criminal justice and democracy reform. i'm also excited to welcome representative anthony brown er maryland's fourth congressional district. representative brown serves on the house armed services committee as well as the committee on veterans affairs, transportation and infrastructure m. the congressman is also
cochair of the new democrat coalition or national security task force and is retired colonel in the united states army reserve. he has a military record spanning more than a quarter-century as an ed heater and officer and was awarded the legion of merit and a bronze star for his distinguished military service. he's also the author of legislation tracking extremism within our armed services . . to begin our conversation, violence what supremacy currently poses one of the most lethal threats to american democracy security . senator jones, you prosecuted one of the most roinfamous crimes in american history and now you're a senior fellow here at camp action and you work on the team that recently released a comprehensive national blueprint and white supremacist violence . can you talk about the key federal actions that are needed to curb white supremacistactivities within
our government institutions and our military specifically .il >> thanks for everybody for joining us today especially my friend congressman brown for being here . this is such an important conversation and passed national policy blueprints on, and white supremacy is important and the key to it, but first and foremost key is therecognition . talking about this in today's world and in light of everything that's going on, that has been one of the most significant developments in the last year or so and has been leading the effort. getting this front and center and there's any number of things and i would encourage those that are watching if you haven't gone on that website and see this blueprints please do that. take a look at it and spread it around because it encompasses so many good recommendations but also provides the basis for where we are today. the thingswe've got to do are relatively simple but the devil is in the details . we've got for instance i think it's incumbent upon the
oj to establish some federal advisory committees. this needs to be a whole of government approach to develop policies and guidelines to implement strategies. that's the key is implementing strategies and helping law enforcement across the spectrum. federal state and local to mitigate any what supremacist action. and we talk about extremist action and that's true and we should always talk about violence in a larger context. but i think we would be remiss if we didn't talk about white supremacy in particular because it's been acknowledged that is the most significant threat that we face from extremist violence. we need to update and this is what we're here today, we need to talk about the department of defense and their processes and resources in order to prevent infiltration and detect what supremacist extremism and the associated risk. remember all the members of
our military today are also going to be veterans one day . and between the two groups, the infiltration of white extremists is extremely troubling. we have seen it time and time again. and i think it starts with both thedepartment of defense and veterans affairs . department of defense can develop recruitment strategies. do more on the questionnaires and recurring background checks. monitoring. the military is on the one hand very rigid. but on the other hand there also rigid for a purpose. and with that rigidity comes the ability to monitor better than any other department within the federal government. we've got to update and clarify the departments programs. we've got to work on making sure that theirpolicies , their expectations and their training and enforcement policies all are rooted or based in trying to root out extremism.
and lastly we can't talk about the military without talking about the department of veterans affairs. we seeall the time the issues with our veterans these days . it is a serious issue with regard to mental health and access to mental health. veteran suicides. but that begins in part with the department of defense so i'm happy to be here today. i'm glad each of you joined us to listen to this important topic but i'm especially proud to share this virtual stage withmy friend congressman brownfrom maryland . congressman brown , you devoted your life and career to keeping this country safe both from foreign and domestic extremism and you've clearly made in this congress a goal of rooting out extremism in the military. he served on the armed services committee, this is
something you're passionate about. i'd like if you would tostart out talking to us about your business . what's fair, what the prospects are and the importance of this kind of legislation coming from congress, not just the executive branch of government. >> tank you senator jones. i want to thank you for your decades of service to our nation. in the justice department taking on perhaps one of the most significant civil rights cases in history of our country. i want to thank you for your service in the u.s. senate and it's a real delight to be here with you this afternoon, this morning virtually. i want to thank the staff action for inviting me and let me start by saying that having spent 30 years in the military, i do know that our country that our military the threats they take on that are
not just the threats that are dependent on distant battlefields from foreign adversaries or terrorists. i know and you know, nose and that's why that national strategy blueprints or for countering white extremist violence is a much overdue and greatly appreciated document. we know that for decades if not more than a century we've been grappling with extremist ideologies within our own community. homegrown and even in our military ranks . so what i set out to do in partnership with my colleagues in the house and in the senate is to essentially give the departments greater tools and authority to address this growing problem. rbc id last year had a report that said that extremism in the military grew about 66 percent in 2019.
the dod reported 2020 to congress identified extremist recruitment in the dod as a real threat. so we said hey, the department needs rater authority and greater tools so in a nutshell the bare-bones outline legislation lis there. first clarify that the secretary of defense has the authority. to exclude from participation in the military in our commission and separate from military service anyone who is not only participates in extremist activity but as a member of an extremist organization. we think it's important to go after a membership as well and i'm sure we'll talk more about that in the first amendment implications but we clarify that. we direct the secretary to define extremism. to define the procedures that will be fair and clear for
identifying and eliminating those numbers. the next thing we do is and a lot of this quite frankly overlaps with the blueprints is data collection. you can ask the different members of the military whether extremism exists and don't get a varying degree of responses. some commanders will tell you there's no extremism in my ranks. others will say yes, you have a serious problem but we don't know the full extent so we do data collection and reporting and analysis. the third component is training. it's important that we train everyone from private to the four-star admiral general, what do we mean by extremism, how to identify it, how do we promote thevalues , our values. against extremism is consistent so training is
very important. and the final piece and that's training i should say is not just for military but for those who are goingto be transitioning out of the military . and then the final piece is to develop an institutional capacity within the department to do the oversight, monitoring, training and education because we know that the long as long as extremism is exists in america, the military will be the object, not the subject but the object of the target of extremist groups that want to recruit t from the military. to get the training and the experience that the military provides to its members for the purposes of preventing our nation not for the purposes of fill in the blanks of extremism organizations so as long as extremism exists in the country we need that
institutional capacity within the dod to fight the good fight of extremism. >> let me ask you about the data collection. that's an important part of the blueprints because from someone who has dealt with this in the private sector, data collection is a real problem. we've got thousands of literally 12,000 or so agencies out there that report no hate crimes whatsoever even though they're all on the books . and having been a prosecutor sometimes i can understand that. they don't want to get tagged with that but withoutthe data , you really are facing an uphill battle to try to root out this. i know that the military as you noted is pretty rigid and there is a lot of deniability there for the same reason. so tell me a little bit about how this bill is going to help with the data collection will you be able to get the department of defense to
buy in with it to try to make sure the data is collected appropriately . as we've seen even on sexual crimes and sexual harassment in the department of defense there's been a low level of data collection . how can we make this better when it comes to what supremacy and extremism? >> i'll start by saying it will be a challenge. it will be an uphill battle incredibly to get the department of defense to work with congress on this issue. and when it comes to issues other than the level of funding for tactical fighters and other procurement accounts where we seem to work better with the dod. when it comes to the issue surrounding supporting military families inand personnel, we always find it much more difficult, sexual
assault for one example addressing the racial ... sorry, in addressing extremism. the department just recently sent their policy statement to congress and with the with it they outright opposed the provision that are in the house version of the 50 or 22 defense authorization act to address extremism is the. one of the items that they identified as onerous is the data collection and reporting requirements. everyone was looking at this issue understands its critical fundamental understanding the scope of the problem and getting after the columns and i'm hoping they're going to be able to work with the department on what their true concerns are that we can get them to guess as well but some of the things were looking at in that recording and we've
worked on it even before this year is you have to through things like the questionnaires and surveys conducted every year in the total. asking servicemembers about their experience so you can understand the prevalence, the frequency and what it looks like that's really important. the other piece is encouraging the dod to work with other agencies. homeland security, doj and fbi sharing the information and trying to harmonize what that database looks like. what the data collection, literally down to the fields that you populate in a database so that the information could be easily shared. and analyzed.we also need for the department to really update and publicize and report the congress on this data that they're collecting. we want to look at the how many inferences are reported
not only these surveys. but what about disciplinary action that they're taking that involved extremist savior whether it's separations, administrative actions. actions of criminal punishment under the uniform criminal justice. by going broadly we only then we will have a full understanding of the scope of the problem in the military. >> congressman i've never seen any government agency for private-sector people who want to collect data. they always talk about the burden but i think with what you're doing it's so important and you laid out why the data collection is importantacross the board and nicole .>> i just wanted to date in a little bit more just really have this interesting conversation about data collection and limitations and congress is going back over to you senator jones, you referenced voluntary wall reporting regarding hate crimes and law
renforcement, not military but law enforcement themselves. can you talk more about the challenges of getting law enforcement data on hate crimes and extremism in communities and within thelaw enforcement sector . >> it's extremely challenging . and you've got at one point there was a component mainly about communities themselves. you really don't like to collect this data in the sense that they believe it somehow reflects badly on their community. mayors and county commissioners and chiefs of f police and sheriffs, they don't want their communities being tagged as a prime filled community. and they also know that what frankly with a lot of these crimes a lot of publicity so there's been over all the reluctance to really collect this data. i've seen it especially in alabama. you would think that we were just a bastion of equality and diversity inalabama and we all know that that's not
the case . and i think it's even exacerbated now because of the political dynamics that we see here between extremism on the right and extremism on theisleft . i was last week at the national association of attorneys general the dc attorney general carly dean had an incredible conference on hate and combating hate. there were a number of folks who did not come because they felt like they were really was a political issue targeting them on the right. and the political right. so i think the challenge now is both a practical challenge in terms of the law enforcement and in the communities themselves not wanting to be tagged and labeled but there's a political dynamic as well where people just will not look one way or the other and that is something we just have got to get past. >> senator jones and
representative, you both have distinguished careers in law enforcement or in the military . representative brown can you talk about your engagement th with the military and veteran communities in developing the legislation that you have done and can you talk about how those consistencies have been receptive to the reforms you're outlining ? >> sure. we've done a number of things. for example i participated in a conference with the association of defense communities and i want to make clear that they are not promoting apolicy , any policies or provisions to address extremism but they did add an open forum to discuss the topic and the issue and i was able to present and hear back from representative and defense communities across the country. they too have takena look at this and have done a study . they understand the extent of the problem. we engaged in formally with the department of defense.
that's why for example in the provision we put forward we were initially going to define extremism. based on discussions with the military in formally. we deferred. the military as our understanding is working with the department of justice and coming up with a definition that would withstand constitutional scrutiny or challenge. we also in those conversations preferred to the department to establish the procedures and i'll add that both democrats and republicans have really been harping on this with the military. tell us what the procedures will be if in fact you're separating members because of extremist ideologies or behavior so instead of defining that which we were ready to do in congress we deferred to the military. we've engaged academics on this. we've engaged various advocacy groups.
southern poverty law center and done a lot of work in this area. we really tried to tap into the best thinking to understand the best practices and best approach to giving these tools in the military. i truly view them as tools to better do perform their mission. the military their primary mission is to deter a more and when deterrence fails to win the fight and win thenext war . and sometime in all of that effort to focus on winning that war we sometimes forget about the men and women and their families in uniform. this is an opportunity to say let's not forget about the good, bad and indifferent among our forces. take the tools, them to good use because we do not want the military to be undermined by extremists nor do we want
extremist groups to sort of use the military and military members participation as a propaganda tool for further recruitment. >> i think it's so important to with what congressman round is doing here. this comes from congress. this comes from the house and the senate. this needs to be on all governments approach and while it's directed more towards the department of defense for sure, i don't think it would be appropriate to just rely on that department of defense. work the executive branch that comes and goes. and congress needs to step up. congress needs to stand up, speak out on this because it will be both right and left extremism. clearly white supremacy is the biggest issue i think in the military and across this country when it comes to violence and domestic om terrorists. but the fact is that all of these can be roapplied in any number of ways.
to reach out extremism and i think it's really important that congressman brown is doing with regard to the congress just like last year in the nda, eswe've put in language to make sure that the department of defense went through the issue of renaming bases and other assets that have been named for confederate generals and confederate officers. this is a very similar to that. it's an assistance to the department of defense to let them know that congress is serious about this . >> let me also add that to pick up on that whole of government approach that senator jones has mentioned at least twice. the national strategy that the biden administration recently published in addressing or our counter domestic extremism puts a huge premium for focus on
already on that whole of government approach. it's not just the department of defense, not even the department of justice. it's homeland security, it's veterans affairs. quite frankly it's hohealth and human services because there's an aspect when we talk about how you go to underlying causes of extremism, the behavior and ideology and if you're going to go after those causes your truly taking a whole of governmentapproach . not just the federal government. the federal government worked with the local and tribal leaders and working with international partners. what we're talking about domestic terrorism and extremism that's originating in homegrown here we are beginning to see sort of transnational affiliation. think about the rising right-wing factions in germany and austria. just to name two countries in
europe. so it's a whole of government approach and that's certainly been the focus of the biden administration and it is also the focus of congress. >> thank you for mentioning that the white house strategy is so important here and it's a good thing for us to and on al. a question for both of you is that what helps strategy, that white house strategy passes the domestic counsel with ambassadors susan wright was leaving this work and partnering with civil society to tackle the problems and move white supremacy in america including in the military across society. so where do you think are some of the key actions or the domestic policy council to consider and similarly what is it is really necessary for congress to do with this bill or in general to tackle thisproblem. in discussion . >> i'll let you tackle that first. >> some of the things we've already talked about like collecting information and
making sure that it's shared broadly . i know for example congresses response to the january 6 insurrection we've tried to create a condition similar to that post 9/11 commission to lookat information sharing across government . so whether it's focused just on january 6 or more broadly extremism, focusing on information sharing. also i do think that we got to and what the strategy calls for is giving greater resources not only to the prevention of domestic terrorism but also prosecution and making sure all our us attorneys, all our state attorney general's district attorneys are sort of reading off the same, coordinating their efforts.. i know senator jones would r know much more about that and i do and even things like investigation but also and i
did mention this earlier because i knew this to be one of the important pillars of this strategy is going after some of the long-term issues that contribute to domestic terrorism. what is perpetuating the hatred and division, to the extent that we live in a zero-sum sort of economy and society and equality so how do we foster equality of opportunity and where everyone feels like they've got a real fair shot at the american dream? so those are some of the pillars, some of the strategies and ethings that we're working on and congress dance ready to support the initiatives coming out of the domestic policy council. and any other branch of government that's willing to work together to address domesticterrorism .
>> those are all perfect. and nicole, i've got to be honest with you. as you are f, we are very proud of the fact that so much of the biden administration's blueprint for doing this is taken from the work we did with the mccain institute. that's because it's a recognition of the issue and that congressman is right. what essentially doing is trying to leverage the executive branch united states government to really enhance the responsibilities across the government from state and federal. you've got to prioritize the threat and i think that it has happened for too long. this was kind of written off as just a spotty problem here and there but i think we see now that this is a real priority. it has to be because in part this is a national security issue. there is no question because of the context overseas and
adomestically so we got to elevate this rent. we've got to continue to elevate the threat. we've got to enhance cooperation and you can do that with carrots and you can do that with sticks. you do it withcarrots by just working together with the state ag's . local law enforcement. but on occasion you've got to use a little stick. you've got federal funding to go to the states and local communities, state ag's and state investigative authorities to rely on. you can use that leverage a good bit to get them on board with so many ofthe priorities we've got. we talk about data. that's an important part of the recommendations . we want togo through with that but qualitative data is so important here . mentioned protecting communities and prosecuting crimes. that is important and i think we sometimes prosecutors often get hung up on the prosecution angle ofthis. that's really important . call a hate crime not for
what it is. i hate crime because it sends anincredible message . but protecting the communities is much more than simply an after-the-fact prosecution and alleged deterrence. what you really have to do is you have to work with communities for transparency to get education out there and educating the public about what is going on. educating people about the problems that we've got in this and dealing with h mental health issues. never underestimate the mental health part of this. and finally i would talk about you know, employee some of our financial in technological groups. we've got a lot of tools with the treasury department where we've got those that are financing these issues. these are in part lone wolf but in large part they're not. they're getting more organized every day a. we saw it with what happened january 6 and i think why we have to balancethe first amendment , we've also got
the necessary financial tools that's how the chief. filed a lawsuit and not only got a judgment but broke them financially. we've got to make sure we've got the ability to go after them financially and prosecute financial crimes but go after them in thecivil context . finally we have to recognize and this will be perhaps one of the biggest challenges is that our social media platforms and our technology companies, bear some responsibility to their public and to their users as well. last night we were seeing this 60 minute show with regard to the facebook whistleblower and i'm not going to make any allegations one way or another on that per se but i will say that we've got to balance this and we got to otget technology companies and the social media platforms engaged in this because it can be a blessing but also occurs and
dangerous. so again nicole, thanks for this. discussion congressman and i want to encourage everybody that's interested in this to take a look at the program that's on the website . our nblueprints is really an outstanding piece of work. >> i'm going to introduce another dear fellow, simon clark start addressing some of the audience questions. first question from the audience i'm going to direct to you simon is simon is a significant contributor to the blueprint mentioned. given your expertise and significant contributions, can you talk about whether the administration is taking the threat of domestic extremism particularly white supremacy seriously and what actions you can take today? >> ctthe congress and the
senate are both right. this administration has done an extraordinary job focusing onthe national security threat from white supremacist and other antigovernment violence and coming up with a strategy to deal with it . the response from the white house was impressive. said that they can't do it on their own. they need help from congress and civil society and need help . we need to keep the focus on the threat and good reporting , good civil society activism. we just shut down ... we engaged and are active in looking for solutions right now with this bill. it's absolutely crucial to making sure we make progress. >> another question from the audience that i will direct to both use senator and representative. first question is what do you
see as the relationship between racism and white supremacy in the military? how successful as themilitary men in rooting out racism ? >> i'll take that if you don't mind. let me start by saying by extremism, while extremism rooted in white supremacy and nationalism is the predominant component and threat that we currently face and it's not new. go back to the ku klux klan and immediate aftermath of civil war. think proud voice and oath keepers today. by extremism we are not limiting it to those motivated by racial hatred, religious or ethnic hatred and division. it also includes those who
just want to disrupt an overturned government. think january 5, there were many people within that insurrection that had no affiliation whatsoever with the sort of more white supremacist, white nationalist groups. want to disrupt democracy and think timothy mcveigh when you think about his experience. he was tangentially associated with white supremacist groups but his primary motive is he wanted to topple governments. he saw government as overreach. we got that component and of course you have some extremists who are sort of single issue minded . whether there acting out on their views about abortion, about environmental issues. about animal rights. use the extremist behavior as well in those single issue oriented people but yes, white supremacy and nationalism is probably the primary driver that we're seeing in the military and across the country.
that's why fbi director ray spoke to congress about that. that's why secretary of defense secretary austin ordered the standdown earlier this year. general millie has spoke adamantly and appropriately about the rise of white nationalism in the military. so it's important to ... before congress that extremism does not exist in my formation and we know that just extensively speaking it's an n accurate. so the dod they are committed to eliminating extremism. they need to do better reporting, better data collection, better training so it's rreally incumbent upon them if you're going to be consistent with the president's commitment to address this, commitment to
where thomas wants to go on this issue you've got to work together congress and the department to get after extremism and in this case we really are talking primarily white supremacy. survey after survey show that in the military service members are experiencing more and more racism, anti-semitism. it's in language, it's in conduct. so the problem is we've got to get after it and they need the tools, they need to embrace the tools that congress is ready to give them. >> part of this problem is swe have to be candid. part of this problem in the military is a reflection on the part of our society as a whole. as our country becomes more diverse there are people who are field full of that. they have felt all along that they were part of a dominant class and when they feel like
they're not going to be, they strike out. i think that is especially true because themilitary and rtheir hierarchy , the superior officers versus the subordinate officers, people are drawn to that and i think they have to recognize that a little bit that this is part of the fear for some folks that and we have to address that fear to let folks know we are all in this country together and our military has to support everyone and protect this democracy that we cherish so much. >> you both spoken quite a bit about policies, training, data collection that needs to change in the military and law enforcement to root out extremism and how the military and law enforcement have lived up to its reputation and serve everybody in america. to keep everybody safe. what kind of resources are required to read this out and is there currently specifics and resources to implement these policies or would moore be required? >> i'll be happy to take that first.
and i stated this publicly to secretary of defense oftenand gentlemanly last week in a hearing . the hearing happens to be on us evacuation operations in afghanistan. but i took it as an opportunity to make a statement about extremism in the military. and while i commended both of them for their actions to address it and the department's commitment i do are opposing these provisions. you're saying training requirements and data collection on are onerous. we have now three of the four committees that are responsible for the level of defense spending in the house of and senate. three out of the four and i think it's going to be four of or soon will authorize an appropriate traditional 25 billion dollars to the department of defense this year will the presidents
budget request so you can't tell me that data collection is onerous. you can't tell me that training is onerous. you've got the resources. we're giving you the authority. it's about doing difficult things and that's what this is. it's difficult. i have no o doubt about that but itcertainly is not because of the lack of resources . both planning and data collection, resources are there. >> nicole, it's important that i think people realize that the resources in this particular instance are important for the department of defense but in n a broader context we need to have a reallocation of some resources or additional resources. that goes to the department of education. and it goes to hhs or mental health issues. they can come in the form of grants to go into the states and communities that were nonprofit organizations that are out there that are trying
to elevate this issue and to root out this clause as well. because again you talk about the whole of government, we need to hold country approach as well l because most so many things can start at the local level and our families and our communities and our schools so when we're talking aboutresources, we really need to be thinking about that as well . those folks will endup in the military but if we already educated , if we've already got them in a position where they're not susceptible we have achieved a monumental goal at that rpoint right there. and got along way to diminishing the role of extremism . >> if i might add one other important area that needs to be in force is with our veterans. when you look at january 6 insurrection and alarming. i've seen different numbers but anywhere from i think 16 percent to 20 percent of those indicted had prior
military experience. now only one was active-duty so they're all veterans. and we need to resource the department of veterans affairs because they can stay connected to veterans. studies have shown often the attraction of these extremist organizations gives veterans who have left the military structure and regiment and focus and purpose acn extremist organizations. that's sort of substitute community so we got to stay engaged with ourveterans . keep them involved in programs and activities, address their health needs, emotional behavioral and mental health needs and especially i think that can go a long way as well to ensure that both men and women who get those hard skills in the military are not going to be the target of recruitment by these extreme
organizations. >> totally agree. >> thank you both so much for this incredibly rich conversation today. i'm going to end it with one last question to both of you witches you mentioned the whole of government approach. you've mentioned really hold country approach. for everyone who watches today or who will watch this online virtually in the future , what is the take away you would like us to have from this conversation or the one thing that they can do in their community to help address the threat of extremism within the military ?th >> i'll let you leave. >> i go back to our friend john lewis. stand up, speak out. cost a little bit trouble. part of the problem is so many people in our local communities will not confront the issue. they're afraid for whatever reason.
some may be afraid for their safety but they're afraid. they're afraid they're going to get bullied online and people have to speak out and talk to their children about this and they have to demand and i mean demand their public officials, the candidates running for office and public officials that are there now also stand up and speak out. this should be a bipartisan issue. this should not be a republican issue or democratic issue , this is an american issue we need to deal with and we can only deal with it with people taking a strong stand and standing up for what's right in this country about all people and the qualitythat we represent . >> what i would say and i wholeheartedly agree with that is to better educated, better educate yourself as individuals and understandthe history of this nation . given that we talked about this the overwhelming number
of people involved in extreme organizations in this country today have to do with white supremacy and nationalism. where race is becoming a divisive factor. the significance of race is as great today in this country as it was at the height of the 1950s and 60s civil rights era. quite frankly some may argue right at the fall of reconstruction. to understand the history of this country and that defforts to provide opportunities for all americans regardless of race or ethnicity or geography is not an effort to divide the country. it's actually an effort to bring this country together. to demonstrate everyone in this country has an opportunity to pursue the american dream our country was founded on a document the constitution that embedded racism into our founding document. there were laws and practices
that perpetuated that. so in our effort to overcome and get beyond that it should be viewed as remedial in nature and not somehow creating division that don't already exist. we're trying to alleviate and ameliorate to get beyond racial divisions that go back centuries in this country. and that takes a lot to do for the typical man and woman out on the street. the reason i say that is because a lot ofmembers of congress have difficulty understanding that as well . >> thank you both so much. thank you senator jones for being here, for your career and history and dedication to this issue.thank you representativebrown for your service , for your congress and military and all you're doing to root out extremism within the military more generally. thank you to everyone for participating in the days conversation for your questions and interests.er please continue to follow
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