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The Chirac-Hussein Connection
STRATFOR ^ | Feb 19, 2003 | Staff

Posted on 02/19/2003 7:25:26 AM PST by Axion

The Chirac-Hussein Connection
Feb 19, 2003

Summary

French President Jacques Chirac is a pivotal figure on the international scene, whose views on Iraq are of vital concern. Those views are not driven simply by geopolitics, however. The factors that shape his thinking include a long, complex and sometimes mysterious relationship with Saddam Hussein. The relationship is not secret, but it is no longer as well known as it once was -- nor is it well known outside of France. It is not insignificant in understanding Chirac's view of Iraq.

Analysis

In attempting to understand France’s behavior over the issue of war with Iraq, there is little question but that strategic, economic and geopolitical considerations are dominant drivers. However, in order to understand the details of French behavior, it is also important to understand a not really unknown but oddly neglected aspect of French policy: the personal relationship between French President Jacques Chirac and Saddam Hussein.

The relationship dates back to late 1974, when then-French Premier Chirac traveled to Baghdad and met the No. 2 man in the Iraqi government, Vice President Saddam Hussein. During that visit, Chirac and Hussein conducted negotiations on a range of issues, the most important of these being Iraq’s purchase of nuclear reactors.

In September 1975, Hussein traveled to Paris, where Chirac personally gave him a tour of a French nuclear plant. During that visit, Chirac said, “Iraq is in the process of beginning a coherent nuclear program and France wants to associate herself with that effort in the field of reactors.” France sold two reactors to Iraq, with the agreement signed during Hussein’s visit. The Iraqis purchased a 70-megawatt reactor, along with six charges of 26 points of uranium enriched to 93 percent -- in other words, enough weapons-grade uranium to produce three to four nuclear devices. Baghdad also purchased a one-megawatt research reactor, and France agreed to train 600 Iraqi nuclear technicians and scientists -- the core of Iraq’s nuclear capability today.

Other dimensions of the relationship were decided on during this visit and implemented in the months afterward. France agreed to sell Iraq $1.5 billion worth of weapons -- including the integrated air defense system that was destroyed by the United States in 1991, about 60 Mirage F1 fighter planes, surface-to-air missiles and advanced electronics. The Iraqis, for their part, agreed to sell France $70 million worth of oil.

During this period, Chirac and Hussein formed what Chirac called a close personal relationship. As the New York Times put it in a 1986 report about Chirac’s attempt to return to the premiership, the French official “has said many times that he is a personal friend of Saddam Hussein of Iraq.” In 1987, the Manchester Guardian Weekly quoted Chirac as saying that he was “truly fascinated by Saddam Hussein since 1974.” Whatever personal chemistry there might have been between the two leaders obviously remained in place a decade later, and clearly was not simply linked to the deals of 1974-75. Politicians and businessmen move on; they don’t linger the way Chirac did.

Partly because of the breadth of the relationship Chirac and Hussein had created in a relatively short period of time and the obvious warmth of their personal ties, there was intense speculation about the less visible aspects of the relationship. For example, one unsubstantiated rumor that still can be heard in places like Beirut was that Hussein helped to finance Chirac’s run for mayor of Paris in 1977, after he lost the French premiership. Another, equally unsubstantiated rumor was that Hussein had skimmed funds from the huge amounts of money that were being moved around, and that he did so with Chirac’s full knowledge. There are endless rumors, all unproven and perhaps all scurrilous, about the relationship. Some of these might have been moved by malice, but they also are powered by the unfathomability of the relationship and by Chirac’s willingness to publicly affirm it. It reached the point that Iranians referred to Chirac as “Shah-Iraq” and Israelis spoke of the Osirak reactor as “O-Chirac.”

Indeed, as recently as last week, a Stratfor source in Lebanon reasserted these claims as if they were incontestable. Innuendo has become reality.

Former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing, who held office at the time of the negotiations with Iraq, said in 1984 that the deal “came out of an agreement that was not negotiated in Paris and therefore did not originate with the president of the republic.” Under the odd French constitution, it is conceivable that the president of the republic wouldn’t know what the premier of France had negotiated -- but on a deal of this scale, this would be unlikely, unless the deal in fact had been negotiated between Chirac and Hussein in the dark and presented as a fait accompli.

There is some evidence for this notion. Earlier, when Giscard d’Estaing found out about the deal -- and particularly about the sale of 93 percent uranium -- he had ordered the French nuclear research facility at Saclay to develop an alternative that would take care of Iraq’s legitimate needs, but without supplying weapons-grade uranium. The product, called “caramel,” was only 3 percent enriched but entirely suitable to non-weapons needs. The French made the offer, which Iraq declined.

By 1986, Chirac clearly had decided to change his image. In preparation for the 1988 presidential elections, Chirac let it be known that he never had anything to do with the sale of the Osirak reactor. In an interview with an Israeli newspaper, he said, “It wasn’t me who negotiated the construction of Osirak with Baghdad. The negotiation was led by my minister of industry in very close collaboration with Giscard d’Estaing.” He went on to say, “I never took part in these negotiations. I never discussed the subject with Saddam Hussein. The fact is that I did not find out about the affair until very late.”

Obviously, Chirac was contradicting what he had said publicly in 1975. More to the point, he also was not making a great deal of sense in claiming that his minister of industry – who at that time was Michel d’Ornano -- had negotiated a deal as large as this one. That is true even if one assumes the absurd, which was that the nuclear deal was a stand-alone and not linked to the arms and oil deals or to a broader strategic relationship. In fact, d’Ornano claimed that he didn’t even make the trip to Iraq with Chirac in 1974, let alone act as the prime negotiator. Everything he did was in conjunction with Chirac.

In 1981, the Israelis destroyed the Iraqi reactor in an air attack. There were rumors – which were denied -- that the French government was offering to rebuild the reactor. In August 1987, French satirical and muckraking magazine, “Le Canard Enchaine” published excerpts of a letter from Chirac to Hussein -- dated June 24, 1987, and hand-delivered by Trade Minister Michel Noir -- which the magazine claimed indicated that he was negotiating to rebuild the Iraqi reactor. The letter says nothing about nuclear reactors, but it does say that Chirac hopes for an agreement “on the negotiation which you know about,” and it speaks of the “cooperation launched more than 12 years ago under our personal joint initiative, in this capital district for the sovereignty, independence and security of your country.” In the letter, Chirac also, once again, referred to Hussein as “my dear friend.”

Chirac and the government confirmed that the letter was genuine. They denied that it referred to rebuilding a nuclear reactor. The letter speaks merely of the agreements relating to “an essential chapter in Franco-Iraqi relations, both in the present circumstances and in the future.” Chirac claimed that any attempt to link the letter to the reconstruction of the nuclear facility was a “ridiculous invention.” Assuming Chirac’s sincerity, this leaves open the question of what the “essential chapter” refers to and why, instead of specifying the subject, Chirac resorted to a circumlocution like “negotiation which you know about.”

Only two possible conclusions can be drawn from this letter: Chirac either was trying, in the midst of the Iran-Iraq war and after his denial of involvement in the first place, to rebuild Iraq’s nuclear capability, or he wasn’t. And if he wasn’t, what was he doing that required such complex language, clearly intended for deniability if revealed? No ordinary state-to-state relationship would require a combination of affection, recollection of long history and promise for the future without mentioning the subject. If we concede to Chirac that it had nothing to do with nuclear reactors, then the mystery actually deepens.

It is unfair to tag Chirac with the rumors that have trailed him in his relations with Hussein. It is fair to say, however, that Chirac has created a circumstance for breeding rumors. The issues raised here were all well known at one time and place. When they are laid end-to-end, a mystery arises. What affair was being discussed in the letter delivered by Michel Noir? If not nuclear reactors, then what was referenced but never mentioned specifically in Chirac’s letter to his “dear friend” Hussein?

Whatever the answer, it is clear that the relationship between Chirac and Hussein is long and complex, and not altogether easy to understand. That relationship does not, by itself, explain all of France's policies toward Iraq or its stance toward a war between the United States and Iraq. But at the same time, it is inconceivable that this relationship has no effect on Chirac's personal decision-making process. There is an intensity to Chirac's Iraq policy that simply may signify the remnants of an old, warm friendship gone bad, or that may have a different origin. In any case, it is a reality that cannot be ignored and that must be taken into account in understanding the French leader’s behavior.


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: chirac; hussein; saddam; warlist
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1 posted on 02/19/2003 7:25:26 AM PST by Axion
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To: Axion
France is terrorist. Snakes for frogs. It is their way."


2 posted on 02/19/2003 7:36:39 AM PST by Diogenesis
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To: Axion
Sounds to me that Chirac, and probably d'Estaing, has multi Swiss francs from Sadam tucked away in a Geneva bank, or somewhere similar.
3 posted on 02/19/2003 7:39:32 AM PST by expatpat
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To: Axion
Whats mysterious about "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours"
4 posted on 02/19/2003 7:43:11 AM PST by TUX
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To: TUX
No mystery here. Sounds like a pretty straight-forward case Chirac being bought. This certainly quacks like a duck; any possibility of it being anything else? This man knows that invasion of Iraq means exposure and will go to any lengths to avoid it.
5 posted on 02/19/2003 8:08:20 AM PST by Adrastus
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To: aristeides; thinden; honway; piasa
fyi
6 posted on 02/19/2003 8:30:11 AM PST by Lion's Cub
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To: *war_list
http://www.freerepublic.com/perl/bump-list
7 posted on 02/19/2003 8:53:16 AM PST by Free the USA (Stooge for the Rich)
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To: Axion
Saddam is France's and Chirac's 'Our Man in Baghdad'.
8 posted on 02/19/2003 9:07:51 AM PST by headsonpikes
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To: Axion
I believe Rush just mentioned this.
9 posted on 02/19/2003 9:09:27 AM PST by michaelt
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To: michaelt
Bumping for Rush.
10 posted on 02/19/2003 9:23:15 AM PST by Allan
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To: monkeyshine; ipaq2000; Lent; veronica; Sabramerican; beowolf; Nachum; BenF; angelo; ...
MEGA BUMP!
11 posted on 02/19/2003 9:26:44 AM PST by dennisw ( http://www.littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/weblog.php)
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To: monkeyshine; ipaq2000; Lent; veronica; Sabramerican; beowolf; Nachum; BenF; angelo; ...
MEGA BUMP!
12 posted on 02/19/2003 9:26:58 AM PST by dennisw ( http://www.littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/weblog.php)
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MEGA BUMP!
13 posted on 02/19/2003 9:27:13 AM PST by dennisw ( http://www.littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/weblog.php)
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MEGA BUMP!
14 posted on 02/19/2003 9:27:17 AM PST by dennisw ( http://www.littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/weblog.php)
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MEGA BUMP!
15 posted on 02/19/2003 9:27:21 AM PST by dennisw ( http://www.littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/weblog.php)
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MEGA BUMP!
16 posted on 02/19/2003 9:27:24 AM PST by dennisw ( http://www.littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/weblog.php)
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To: dennisw
French President Jacques Chirac is a pivotal figure on the international scene, whose views on Iraq are of vital concern

LOL

17 posted on 02/19/2003 9:32:40 AM PST by Thinkin' Gal
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To: Thinkin' Gal
I think Rush will be talking about this after the break. (At 12:35 ET)

BUMP

18 posted on 02/19/2003 9:34:11 AM PST by Allan
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To: Axion
For the genesis of the France-Saddam Hussein relationship see "The Fourth World War: Diplomacy and Espionage in the Age of Terrorism", by France's spy chief, the Count de Marenches (1992: Morrow). The close relationship is now a quarter-century old.
19 posted on 02/19/2003 9:37:20 AM PST by gaspar
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To: Axion
Thermo-nuclear BUMP!
20 posted on 02/19/2003 9:38:08 AM PST by Greeblie
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To: Axion
btttttttttttttttt
21 posted on 02/19/2003 9:40:26 AM PST by dennisw ( http://www.littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/weblog.php)
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To: Axion
btttttttttttttttt
22 posted on 02/19/2003 9:40:30 AM PST by dennisw ( http://www.littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/weblog.php)
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To: Axion
Rush is talking about this now.
23 posted on 02/19/2003 9:42:32 AM PST by Allan
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To: Allan
Bump
24 posted on 02/19/2003 9:43:50 AM PST by Allan
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To: Axion
Bump for later reading.
25 posted on 02/19/2003 9:46:50 AM PST by Golan Trevize
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To: Axion
Hardly surprising.
26 posted on 02/19/2003 9:54:16 AM PST by Nachum
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To: Axion
Is it just me or does this article at least somewhat imply that Chirac has the hots for Saddham. Is Chirac a faeg?
27 posted on 02/19/2003 9:55:39 AM PST by Skip Ripley
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To: Alamo-Girl; aristeides; Fred Mertz; keri; M. Thatcher; Miss Marple; swarthyguy; The Great Satan; ...
According to Rush Limbaugh
the information in this article
has appeared on 3 web sites simultaneously
and originated in Lebanon.

Someone doesn't like Chirac.
28 posted on 02/19/2003 9:55:56 AM PST by Allan
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To: Axion
I can remember even back in the 1970's
when Chirac was a minister under Giscard d'Estaing
he was involved in financial scandals even then.
29 posted on 02/19/2003 10:00:37 AM PST by Allan
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To: Allan
Someone doesn't like Chirac.

Perhaps he should volunteer to be a human shield for his "good friend".

30 posted on 02/19/2003 10:05:29 AM PST by mombonn
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To: TUX
"you scratch my back........... No back scratching here, here's what it is: You stuff my military with WMD, and I will stuff your pocket with billions of franks, or what ever currency you desire.
31 posted on 02/19/2003 10:16:53 AM PST by desertcry
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To: Axion
My opinion of STRATFOR has dropped over the past couple of years, but they do raise some interesting (and to FReepers, already obvious) questions about France's true motives in l'affair Iraq.

IMHO, the "deeper mystery" of Chirac's involvement with Saddam is that France (and Germany) are involved up to their genitals in Iraqi military capabilities.

32 posted on 02/19/2003 10:30:37 AM PST by r9etb
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To: dennisw; TopQuark; Alouette; veronica; weikel; EU=4th Reich; BrooklynGOP; Jimmyclyde; Buggman; ...
In September 1975, Hussein traveled to Paris, where Chirac personally gave him a tour of a French nuclear plant. During that visit, Chirac said, “Iraq is in the process of beginning a coherent nuclear program and France wants to associate herself with that effort in the field of reactors.” France sold two reactors to Iraq, with the agreement signed during Hussein’s visit. The Iraqis purchased a 70-megawatt reactor, along with six charges of 26 points of uranium enriched to 93 percent -- in other words, enough weapons-grade uranium to produce three to four nuclear devices. Baghdad also purchased a one-megawatt research reactor, and France agreed to train 600 Iraqi nuclear technicians and scientists -- the core of Iraq’s nuclear capability today.

Middle East list

If people want on or off this list, please let me know.

33 posted on 02/19/2003 10:41:03 AM PST by knighthawk
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To: Axion
Bookmark Bump.
34 posted on 02/19/2003 10:42:41 AM PST by Ditto (You are free to form your own opinions, but not your own facts.)
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To: Axion; Eaker; habs4ever; Ditter; shaggy eel; dorben; Son of Rooster; Gun142; Tennessee_Bob; ...
Great article. I was pretty floored when rush read this today. It's amazing how we can see this when certain people on this forum cannot, and continually insist that France and Germany's hesitation is because Rumsfeld insulted them. duh. Could it be Rumsfeld insulted them because he already *KNOWS* the facts contained in this article?
35 posted on 02/19/2003 10:47:39 AM PST by Terriergal (Going to war without the French is like going deer hunting without an accordion.)
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To: Diogenesis
great shots! I guess what they say about the French is true then, they'll get into bed with just about anyone!
36 posted on 02/19/2003 10:48:45 AM PST by Terriergal (Going to war without the French is like going deer hunting without an accordion.)
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To: TUX
Whats mysterious about "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours"

LOL.

I think the mystery is in how long Chirac has been scratching, and what kind of scratching Saddam will do for Chirac, and why Chirac doesn't want to admit to having scratched Saddam's back.

(so he can keep on scratching it??)

37 posted on 02/19/2003 10:51:45 AM PST by Terriergal (Going to war without the French is like going deer hunting without an accordion.)
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To: Skip Ripley
Is it just me or does this article at least somewhat imply that Chirac has the hots for Saddham.

I wouldn't put it that strongly, but it's not just you.... OTOH, I have a rather warped mind. I think it's the repeated use of "personal" and "relationship," sometimes together.

For example, this sentence: Partly because of the breadth of the relationship Chirac and Hussein had created in a relatively short period of time and the obvious warmth of their personal ties, there was intense speculation about the less visible aspects of the relationship.

OK.... The paragraph continues to go onto discuss possible financial and political misdealings.... only to come to this sentence: There are endless rumors, all unproven and perhaps all scurrilous, about the relationship.

It really does read as if the "personal relationship" has been quite, shall we say, personal. I don't think the relationship has a homosexual dimension, but the more I reread it, I think there is an intent to imply that there might be.

38 posted on 02/19/2003 10:54:23 AM PST by Celtjew Libertarian (Haiku and "Unintended Consquences" just don't mix.)
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To: Axion
Bump to the top
39 posted on 02/19/2003 10:54:25 AM PST by CyberCowboy777 (Extremism in the Pursuit of Liberty is no Vice!)
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To: Axion
It is interesting that these things are starting to come out now that it has become pretty obvious that we don't have the votes for a 2nd UNSC resolution, and thus won't be persuing one. I suspect that we have a lot more along these lines, this is only the tip of the iceburg.

We've let Chirac & Schroder climb way out on a limb. Now the saws are being whipped out.

40 posted on 02/19/2003 11:13:11 AM PST by Stefan Stackhouse
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To: mafree
Follow da uranium...
41 posted on 02/19/2003 11:22:42 AM PST by Shermy
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To: Axion
The article demonstrates that Chirac blatantly lied about his previous involvement with the building of Iraq's nuclear program. And the tangled web of evidence would far and away be most easily explained by his continued attempts to cover up subsequent involvement.

It's not looking good for Chirac. And the theory that his present behavior is an attempt to prevent something big from being uncovered by a regime change in Iraq begins to gain more credence.
42 posted on 02/19/2003 11:26:42 AM PST by Paul_B
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To: Axion
I wonder if this story gets legs if the French government will betray Chirac?
43 posted on 02/19/2003 11:33:43 AM PST by PeoplesRep_of_LA
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To: Axion
Bump!
44 posted on 02/19/2003 11:34:32 AM PST by k2blader
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To: Skip Ripley
It's not just you. I was expecting to see it in black and white by the end of the article.
45 posted on 02/19/2003 11:45:15 AM PST by watchin
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To: dennisw
BTTT..the chicken has its eyes on the golden egg..
46 posted on 02/19/2003 12:35:55 PM PST by RnMomof7
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To: Allan
Thanks for the heads up!
47 posted on 02/19/2003 12:53:45 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: Axion
FWIW, STRATFOR's beginnings are in the petro industry, where they did intel assessment for multinationals well before becoming an Internet "insider news" site.

Chirac's involvement with Iraq would be right up their alley, and where I would trust STRATFOR the most.

48 posted on 02/19/2003 1:00:06 PM PST by angkor
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To: PeoplesRep_of_LA
I wonder if this story gets legs if the French government will betray Chirac?

His political opposition within France could certainly use these issues, but this is political dynamite. The kind that topples entire governments.

49 posted on 02/19/2003 1:29:39 PM PST by justa-hairyape
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To: knighthawk
Thanks for the ping.

**Anyone know if any of the major news orgs are covering this yet?
50 posted on 02/19/2003 1:35:25 PM PST by MizSterious
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