Tag Archives: Central Intelligence Agency

There is one IG the left cares about

 

It’s hard to know what will rile up the left, or ekg, since some things that seem innocuous to me will set off her red alert button.  To be fair, it works both ways.  The allegation that the President was breaking the law in firing an Inspector General who was investigating a supporter of the President draws not even a yawn from her or the left.  Whether or not a real crime comes from that remains to be seen, but I doubt it will ever be a story on the level of Bush’s firing of his Justice Department Attorney Generals, which generated quite a bit media angst and airplay, even though Bush’s actions were perfectly legal.

 

That’s why I don’t get wound up at each Bush/Rove/Cheney “war crime.”  I expect the media to pick apart the Bush administration memo by memo and I have a perfect ironic faith that the media will leave no stone unturned.  If the Bush administration is guilty of crimes, they won’t stay hidden.  Every parking ticket will generate a Congressional committee to investigate the heinous atrocity of double parking by the evil denizens of the Bush White House.

 

So, when I’m told that the Bush administration falsified CIA threat assessments to justify shitting (once again) on the Constitution, I tend to think, “been there, done that.”  Like a conspiracy theorist, no amount of debunking will disprove it.  For the conspiracist, debunking is always proof of just how far reaching the conspiracy is.

 

So, when presented with this:

 

The IG report said an unnamed White House official inserted a paragraph into the first threat assessment prepared by the CIA after the Sept. 11 attacks, which was used to justify the extraordinary intelligence measures.

The paragraph said that the “individuals and organizations involved in global terrorism possessed the capability and intention to undertake further terrorist attacks within the United States,” according to the report. It also said that the president should authorize the NSA to conduct the surveillance activities.

 

I admit it, I shrugged.

 

So with my ironic faith in the media, I assume that if there was something really to this, Brian Williams would have informed me promptly at 6:30 pm, every single evening until Bush was arrested and perp walked to a paddy wagon.  Mr.  Williams has not made a peep.  If taken at face value, it does sound bad, but then I have to remember, if it’s so bad, why isn’t it a bigger story?  So I went right to the source material itself.

 

The unclassified version of the IG report on The President’s Surveillance Program is the source of the blurb in the above news article.  What’s interesting to me is what the news article left out.  Editing I suppose although the purpose of that article was more general than the insertion of one paragraph into a threat assessment: 

 

After the terrorism analysts completed their portion of the memoranda, the DCI Chief of Staff added a paragraph at the end of the memoranda stating that the individuals and organizations involved in global terrorism (and discussed in the memoranda) possessed the capability and intention to undertake further terrorist attacks within the United States. The DCI Chief of Staff recalled that the paragraph was provided to him by a senior White House official. The paragraph included the DCI’s recommendation to the President that he authorize the NSA to conduct surveillance activities under the PSP.  CIA Office of General Counsel Attorneys reviewed the draft threat assessment memoranda to determine whether they contained sufficient threat information and an compelling case  for reauthorization of the PSP.  If either was lacking, an OCG attorney would request that an analysts provide additional threat information or make revisions to the draft memoranda.

 

The threat assessment memoranda were then signed by the DCI.  George Tenent signed most of the threat memoranda prepared during his tenure as DCI.  On the few occasions he was unavailable, the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, John E. McLaughlin, signed the memoranda on behalf of Tenent.  McLaughlin also signed the memoranda in the capacity of acting DCI in August and September 2004.

 

 

So the paragraph added by the unnamed White House official was inserted by the DCI Chief of Staff, and signed by the DCI, George Tenent in this case, every 45 days.  This sounds a lot less like threat assessment fraud by the White House and more like standard boilerplate on the threat assessment template in Word.  So forget the White House for a second, these threat assessments were reviewed by the CIA lawyers as well; presumably before Tenent signed each version.

 

 

There were no occasions in which the DCI or acting DCI withheld their signatures from the threat assessment memoranda.  The memoranda were co-signed by the Secretary of Defense, reviewed by the Attorney General, and delivered to the White House to be attached to the PSP Presidential Authorizations signed by the President.

 

 

Well if the former President goes down for this, he will be taking a lot of people with him. 

 

My take?  No laws were broken and nothing will come of this.  If there is something to it, I have faith in the old media routing it out.  They are constantly on the look out for a new Watergate  In the meantime, if you’ve ever seen a threat assessment, there is a lot of boilerplate to them.  I suspect this is more of the same.  In the meantime, the left screams.  They are in charge and they still can’t purge the old guard that’s already gone home.

 

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Why is it wrong or controversial for the President to add his own paragraph to an intelligence briefing?

In another discussion with Lil Mike, I’ve come to realize that I just talk to freaking much-LOL.. But seriously, it struck me that if he doesn’t understand.. then maybe others don’t see the big deal either, and that scares me. If we could for once.. just once take the political party out of the equation and base our verdict on the facts, I don’t think any of us would see things differently..  But we can’t take the (R) and the (D) out of the equation because then our entire world crumbles when we find out we’ve been duped and in the end supported a lie. Where we should be angry at the one who made us into the fool, we are angry at ourselves and not many of us like the idea that we were taken for a ride. It’s why ponzie schemes work so well.. Who wants to admit that they really believed the 40% return they were promised was real and legal..

I wrote a blog the other day

The special powers an (R) next to your name gives you…

In it, I talk about the mess we find ourselves in today, the news that the Investigators General found that the White House inserted it’s own wording into a threat assessment from the CIA and then used that paragraph to enact an unconstitutional doctrine..

To explain it more would take to much space and this reply isn’t about the paragraph as much as it’s about how that deceitful act is more detrimental to the principals this country was build on.. Life,Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness then anything we’ve seen so far.

Once again, my reply to Mike..

“That[inserting of the paragraph] opens a whole can of worms, but the actual paragraph, I don’t find a lie or contraversal. Do you? How would that change anything?”

The easiest 1st.. How does it change anything? If the White House is allowed to make up what they want, to get what they want.. how does that NOT change anything?  Please explain how you support any President doing this? Because I think you are slowly realizing that just because we had an (R) President for awhile, doesn’t mean we will always have an (R) president, we will eventually get a (D) and you can’t be ok with allowing this to continue when a (D) has the precedent..

But more than that… where do you draw the line?  The President can make up what he wants for security reasons that hamper constitutional rights… he can hold false PC hearings that tell us the ‘news’ he wants us to hear… he can use ‘plants’ to steer the topics of real PC’s to the direction he wants..   where do you draw the line? You don’t like the MSM being liberal, but you’re ok with the complete fabrication coming from your oval office?

Now the other part of your justification…that you don’t find it a lie… How do you know this paragraph is true? Because  it fits in with your opinion?

Had it been true (or a true threat) the CIA would have put it in there right? But they didn’t find anything like that so, the White House made it up.. at that time atleast, you were made to believe a falsehood that the Oval office told you.. and worse than that.. that falsehood was then used to convince you the NSA program (and so many others just because of the butterfly effect-) was needed, because that statement saying it was needed, was also inserted falsely..

In this instant, I won’t make your head swim at how much of a can of worms it is because I don’t think you would ever acknowledge it.. but in this instant, you..we were hoodwinked.

Bush/Cheney wanted the NSA program.. we’ll leave off the ulterior motives for that right now and just stick to that.. They wanted it and asked the CIA to give them a reason.. The CIA did what it was supposed to do, it investigated and put together a threat assessment.But, it wasn’t threatening enough to get Bush/Cheney what they wanted so they made up their own assessment and then used what they made up to bring to Congress and the American ppl to get that NSA program..

I really can’t believe you don’t see the implications of this. I don’t care whats going on in the world.. a President of the United States cannot make up a story, attach the CIA’s name to that story… and then steal rights from the citizens of the country because of that story.. That’s not what this country is build upon!

I won’t get into the problems this creates for the CIA… but take a minute and think about that…

Let’s look at the broad implications.. If, as you say, the paragraph was true then how can anything from the CIA ever be useful again? If they can’t get the threat right,  and it takes someone from the White House..(and we both know there might be 2 people in the White House who would know as much as the CIA on any given intelligence assessments)..but if it takes someone from the White House to see the real threats and tell people about it, then how do we believe anything from our intelligence division again? How can we trust their competence?

Ask yourself this, if it was so true, why didn’t they(the White House) put that paragraph out there themselves? Why did they attach it to  the CIA’s briefing. They had to have some intelligence from somewhere saying these things right? So why did they have to put it in a CIA memo? Why didn’t they make the intelligence division who gave them  the information, put out their own memo? Who was that intelligence division anyway and why are they to be believed over the CIA?

Or did the White House just make it up?

You can’t ignore those scenarios because they are the only two that exist.

Let’s go farther..
You will admit that the NSA program is a massive invasion of privacy.. one that, in your opinion is needed though..-yes?  Well, now you’ve just been told that the CIA did not find  reason enough for it and  the President made up a reason on his own and stole privacy from the American people.. your reason for it was made up! You may have felt there was a good reason, you may have been happy that the CIA report backed you up.. but the truth is, it didn’t!  I may love the idea that a chocolate diet helps me lose weight, but I can’t write my own little paragraph and insert it into Jenny Craig‘s website saying it..

Bring this down to an easier level. You’ve been accused of killing someone. The local PD gets involved and investigates you, sure you look guilty and you probably did do it, but while everything looks bad against you, there really isn’t much to report. At an internal briefing on the status of your case the DA says.. Ok, well I want this guy wire-tapped.. The cops say, “well..we do too, but we can’t find a reason for it” .. So the DA decides to write a paragraph that does implicate you, it’s not  based on anyting he’s been told-he just makes it up on the spot and he hands it to the cops and says.. “Now go get your wire-tap. The cops go to a judge and say “Judge, read this paragraph right here, that’s why we need this wire-tap” and the judge says “Ok”..

Is this legal? and more than that..is that what you are saying you are happy to go along with in this country..

Is this what you want your President to do and will you ignore it now that you know what he did?

Is this the level of power you wish to give to the already most power office in the world?

If you want to allow a President and Vice President to arbitrarily make up their own reasons to do things that are unconstitutional…then why are you fighting government run health care.. why are you fighting government   run anything?

You didn’t’ serve this country for the last 25 years to allow your president to make up a fantasy to get something he wanted..did you?

I know this is difficult.. because to admit this opens a can of worms that could devour a country. You wouldn’t believe a liar who lied to you, or a thief who stole from you in your personal life.. but to believe this?  Wouldn’t this alone make you question.. What else did they do this on?

and I think that is why you will ignore this as a problem, because the  answer to that.. is something you don’t want to know..

Let’s face it, larger picture is extremely  frightening.How many other times did this happen? Besides just the NSA program, what other things did the White House insert it’s own wording into and then use that wording to get their way on… Is it possible it’s all been a lie or based on a lie? and what do we do about it? To investigate further might tell us the scariest truth we’ve ever dreamed up.. but to ignore it–well, that blesses every President from now until we resemble Russia Circa Stalin, which on that path, would be in our lifetime.

This can’t be what you and thousands of others like you served their country for..your oath didn’t say to protect the President when he lies to get his way-even if you agree with that way… did it?

It always seems like there is something in an (R) and (D) psyche that is almost like they feel if they acknowledge this.. like a house of cards, the whole thing will crumble. But if that house of cards is an illusion built on a lie, why would you want it to stand in the 1st place?

Where is your anger over what was done in your name?

Where is the line? Would it be OK for the Oval Office to make up a threat assessment with the intelligence community’s name on it, that says we must nuke a rival country and then go out on every “Meet the Press” tv show that will have them and promote this insertion?

Where does your tolerance end?

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Introducing… Lil mike

I’d like to take a minute for this “Friday Rewind” to introduce my friend and politically polar opposite, Lil Mike. He has an amazing ability to argue his side of an argument and like me will go on for days on a single subject. At present time, we have logged over 10000 hrs(ok, that may be exaggerated a little) into the “Valerie Plame, Leak case” and I haven’t a single doubt that no two people on the planet,including those involved and the so called ‘experts’, are more well versed than we are when it comes to that subject(that’s not an exaggeration) . We both are abnormally addicted to current issues and researching them in order to prepare for the debate that will follow. There have been many topics that I had no knowledge of until Mike decided to bring them up for debate.. and then I was forced into learning the minutia of said topic in order to keep up with him.. as he has had to do with me…HA!

I can’t say that either of us have ever changed each others mind on any particular issue.. and given our politically polar opposites, that’s not a surprise… what is a surprise are the things we actually agree on. But those are so ‘eclectic’ that they can not be predicted… and that’s what makes it fun.

Mike is the best adversary I’ve ever come across. He can make me laugh,cry,wonder wtf planet he is from.. he can even anger me to the point of having to drown small animals just for the ‘release’.. but through it all, after 10 years we’ve been able to go from such extreme emotions on one topic, to another topic with not a single hard-feeling or ‘carry-over’. Each conversation is a clean-slate no matter how intense the last one, or in most cases, the current one is.

He will be joining The Velvet StraitJacket soon.. and you will soon see that Lil Mike is always right. (even when he’s wrong)

and without further ado.. Your (late) Friday rewind…


Banana Republic


Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, upon capture.
Image via Wikipedia

Some wag once said that Obama keeps all of his promises; they just have an expiration date.  I guess that’s how we got from “President Barack Obama will not pursue the prosecution of Bush-era officials who devised torture policy against detainees to it is going to be more of a decision for the attorney general” within a few days.  That was a quick turnaround, even by Obama standards.  However events and leftie blogs pushed Obama rather quickly after the release of the “torture memos,” which reveal the legal underpinning for what is euphemistically referred to as “enhanced interrogation.”

 

The timing strikes me as odd considering just a week ago a Spanish court decided to investigate whether to pursue charges against Bush administration officials who provided the legal underpinning for those interrogations.  Then low and behold, the Obama administration declassifies those very documents written by those Justice Department lawyers.  That could hardly be a coincidence.  The message seems to be that the Obama administration will not attempt to protect and may even assist, in international prosecutions of Bush administration officials, and who knows, maybe even prosecute a few themselves.

 

I took a look at the torture memos out of curiosity and to confirm that things people were saying were in there actually was.  I’ve learned you can’t trust someone else’s interpretation.  Full disclosure:  I didn’t read the whole thing.  I just don’t have the legal background to make a determination if the case the Justice Department attorneys tried to make made sense or not, but I was curious about a few things.

 

First of all, what was the classification of these damn things?  Looking at the pdf of the memo, I could see that the pages were all classified Top Secret (scribble scribble) NOFORN, but what was the caveat or code word that was scribbled out?  I magnified and tried to see through the blackened areas, but no such luck.  Just curious I guess.  I was just wondering if it was a cool sounding codeword, Top Secret Maximum Hammer, or just something dorky, Top Secret Loosie Goosie?

 

Another thing; what was the deal with all the waterboarding?  The original leaks described it as the most successful interrogation technique since “good cop, bad cop.”  Abu Zubaida supposedly broke after 35 seconds.  However page 37 of the memo details something more complicated:

…where authorized, it may be used for two “sessions” per day of up to two hours. During a session, water may be applied up to six times for ten seconds or longer (but never more than 40 seconds). In a 24-hour period, a detainee may be subjected to up to twelve minutes of water appliaction. See id. at 42.  Additionally, the waterboard may be used on as many as five days during a 30-day approval period.

…The CIA used the waterboard “at least 83 times during August 2002” in the interrogation of Zubaida…and 183 times during March 2003 in the interrogation of KSM”

 

So somebody check my math, but that that means either the guidelines for waterboarding are wrong, they ignored their own guidelines, or the number of waterboarding sessions is wrong, since the could not have waterboarded that many times in a month if they followed the guidelines.  Or they are counting applications, instead of sessions.  It’s too vague to tell.

 

As far as I know, I’m the first person to discover this, so somebody give a prize or something.

 

However I’m not the first person to notice the incongruity of it being reported that Zubaida broke after 35 seconds and being waterboarded 83 times in one month.  I don’t see how both of those can be true.

 

But like a 23 minute Arlo Guthrie song, that’s not what I’m here to talk about.  OK well maybe a little, but what I am really worried about is the Obama administration deciding to settle scores.  Since President Obama is the Attorney General’s boss, going from being not interested in pursuing prosecution of Bush era officials to saying it’s up to the Attorney General is tantamount to giving the green light to prosecute.

 

Now I am of two minds on this.  There is one part of me, the mean, hateful part, that would love to see lawyers have to take responsibility for writing legal opinions, and by taking responsibility I mean forced to pull their orange jumpsuits down in a dark corner of a federal prison and get doo doo raped.  I’m not a fan of lawyers as you might notice.  Generally, lawyers don’t have to take any responsibility for their poor performance. Their clients do. These lawyers, if prosecuted, certainly would.

 

Also there is the precedent.  Once one administration opens the door to prosecuting the previous administration for policies it disagreed with, every time there is a change in power, the new administration will do the same.  In 4 years I could sit back and watch members of the Obama administration be indicted for all manner of crimes.  What comes around goes around eh?

 

But that is only one side.  I have a more dominate opinion on this, not one based on score settling, hatred of the bar, or getting revenge on wrongs, real or otherwise, on the current administration at some point in the future, but based on reason, rule of law, and the dangers setting bad precedents.

 

 First of all, I’m not sure there is even a crime here.  There may be a crime somehow under Spanish law, but I’m fairly certain there is no Federal Statute against giving a legal opinion that the current administration disagrees with.  One can imagine the kangaroo courts if we decide it’s OK to prosecute judges for ruling on a decision that’s been overturned, or a legislator who votes for a law that is later found to be unconstitutional.  That would be as criminal as anything those Bush Justice Department attorneys did.

 

The precedent of one administration getting revenge on the previous one would be a bad one.  Senator Leahy’s idea of a truth and reconciliation commission; as if going from the Bush administration to the Obama one is equivalent to eliminating apartheid, or the Nuremberg Trials, is ridiculous.  During every election, we always like to repeat the old canard about “the peaceful exchange of power” but how long would that be true if we up the stakes every time  political parties switch positions of power?  If hundreds of administration officials could expect nothing but indictment if a rival party takes power, are we really not that far from Peron’s Argentina?

 

It’s one thing to indict and prosecute officials who have actually done criminal wrongdoing, but I’ve noticed from my friends on the left is their tendency to want to criminalize policy differences.   They would love to have Bush and Cheney doing the perp walk, weighed down with chains, but ask them what sort of charges its usually something vague, like “war crimes” or just that they were criminals.  Their real crimes?  Holding different policy positions.  Not violating federal statutes.  If we try to prosecute attorneys for writing legal opinions, that won’t be justice, it will be punishment.  Punishment for losing the election.

 

Once we cross that particular Rubicon, it’s damage that cannot be undone. Rome could never go back to it’s Republic, and if we allow score settling after every change of power, we won’t be able to go back either. 

 

 

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Torture; paybacks are a bitch..

There has been a lot in the news about torture over the last few months. Did the US torture? If so, who authorized it? Do we punish the persons who actually did the torture? Do we punish the ones who authorized it? These are all questions that in all likelihood will piss people on both sides off when they are answered.

The “Jack Bauer” scenario is the most prominent reason given for torture.

A  bomb is about to detonate in a heavily populated metropolitan area, a person who knows the whereabouts of this bomb and other details of the plan is captured and he is not talking.

Pop-quiz asshole! What do you do?

Both sides answering this question have valid opinions.  One side screams to torture them until they spill every ounce of information they have. The other side points to this and says “But you don’t know if the information  is real. They could just be telling you anything and while you are out on that Easter egg hunt trying to confirm the information, valuable time will be wasted.” They are the ones who want to use tried and true interrogation tactics in this scenario because they believe those tactics work and they also believe that a time of stress and crisis is when it’s most important to stick to our values.

I agree with both sides.

I guess I’m in the ‘if all else fails‘ camp.

Obviously ‘normal’ police method interrogation works. We’ve seen it’s success across the country on a daily, if not hourly basis. When people are caught for their crimes they want to talk, they want to explain,  they want you to understand why they did what they did but they need to be nudged into it.  That’s where a seasoned detective comes in.  If this type of ‘non-enhanced’ technique did not work, no one would ever confess… but they do.

But does torture work? Dick Cheney says it does. In fact he says that we actually faced a ‘Jack Bauer’ scenario and torture is what stopped this ‘second wave’ from happening.  The Head of the FBI says this is untrue, The CIA says this is untrue, and others who have seen the memo’s Cheney is quoting  say this is untrue.  Dick Cheney has also heralded the capture of KSM as proof of tortures value. That has  also been called into  question by the actual interrogator.

Look, it’s not that you won’t get someone to talk by torturing them, I don’t think anyone is debating that point. It’s just that you will get them to talk about everything they think you want them to talk about, whether true or not.

Every example that Dick Cheney uses as his proof has since been found to be lacking in the ‘proof’ arena, and just like he now says Saddam didn’t have anything to do with 9/11.. maybe sometime in the future he’ll change this ‘torture worked’ storyline. Since it looks like he could be tried as a war criminal though, I doubt he’ll ever say that. What he will do is make sure everyone and anyone is aware that this was George W. Bush’s plan.  That’s also  turning out to be just another of Cheney’s fantasies though.

SCHIEFFER: … somewhere down the line. Did President Bush know everything you knew?

CHENEY: I certainly, yes,have every reason to believe he knew — he knew a great deal about the program. He basically authorized it.I mean,this was a presidential-level decision. And the decision went to the president. He signed off on it.

The problem I have with any of this “torture question”, is the hypocrisy of it. The,

“We don’t torture because we changed the definition of torture so we could torture legally”…

…is where I call foul. What made it ok for Jack Bauer to torture the terrorists in 24(besides the whole “it’s a TV show”), was the fact that he was willing to stand up to Congress and lay it all out on the table and take whatever punishment they doled out. That’s when, in my opinion, it’s ok to torture someone for information in the “ticking time-bomb scenario”.If you feel that what you are doing is not only right, but your duty as an American and you are so sure of this that you are willing to face the consequences afterward, then have at it and get all the information you can.

But just like lying about a blow job got a president impeached, lying about torture and your role in it should at least get you a public hearing.

It’s not the acts themselves that bother people, I would wager that if a “Jack Bauer” situation was being played out in real life an overwhelming majority of Americans would either turn a blind eye or slap the interroagtor on the wrist for their actions. But when you lie about, mislead others into believing your lie and then try and cover up your lie.. then the jury isn’t the only one who knows you were committing a crime.

Of course I will be ask …

“What if someone had your child, wouldn’t you torture them to find them?”

Yes… yes I would and if they harmed a hair on my child I would follow them home and cut them up into little pieces….slowly. But, when the police came to arrest me it would only take that seasoned detective about a minute to get me to talk. I would want tell him why did what I did. I would explain what I did to him and my subsequent jury. I would make them live through the horror  I and my missing/harmed child lived through and I would hope for  jury nullification.

Torture for the use of  gaining information, in my opinion is a crap shoot. It might work and it might not. The worst part about this ironically is the ‘ticking time-bomb scenario’. In that scenario there is no time for proper interrogations to be used, no time because the bomb is set to go off at any minute. Yet, there is time to investigate the false confessions which all agree are a part of the torture process? I don’t think so. If there is no time for mistakes then why chose the path which will ensure the most mistakes? It’s for this reason I am going more and more to the side of a “No Torture” policy for information gathering purposes.

That is not to say I am against torturing for punishment..

I will have to turn in my ‘liberal’ card for a month by saying this, but I think there are actual justifications to torture people, but in my world those reasons have to do with their crimes and not to get information out of them. Don’t believe there is a crime that the deserved punishment is some form of exquisite  pain upon the person guilty of the crime?

NEW ORLEANS —  Authorities say a 17-year-old teenager was charged with aggravated rape and first-degree murder of an 8-month-old child.

This is not a ‘redeemable’ child, this animal (because he is most definitely not a man or a human) who at the ripe old age of 17, already has convictions for  “drug possession charges; obscenity; battery on a correctional officer; three counts of battery on a school teacher; theft; weapons charges; and assault” in my opinion is worthy of a life of exquisite pain upon his conviction.

Not ‘torture-worthy’ enough?

CASSVILLE, Mo. —  The two men charged in rape and murder of 9-year-old Rowan Ford had their first brief court appearance Tuesday.

These men, one the child’s step-father, have been charged with ” first degree murder, sodomy and rape charges in connection to the death of Rowan Ford of Stella.” Whose body they just dumped in cave like a piece of garbage that they were done with using.

I  think they could to with a little ‘waterboarding’ just for the fun of it.

Torture for investigative purposes won’t give us the real-time intelligence we need in a ‘ticking time-bomb’ scenario.. but it will damn well make us feel better when we use it for the sole purpose of… ‘pay backs are  motherfucking bitch!’

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