Category Archives: Intelligence & Politics

“Justice without Mercy” Chapter 62

The Professor was just recovering from the shock of losing Ali. Hasani had done the right JWM Serializationthing. He couldn’t afford the CIA interrogating one of his people. Ali knew too much. An hour later he saw his picture and Hasani’s on a news alert. How did they get a picture of Hasani? No one should know he was here. His entry into the country was perfect. Hasani lived his cover and never made mistakes. He was vigilant and carefully checked the details.

They could change their appearances somewhat but extensive disguises were difficult to wear constantly. He knew a safe place was required to make each change from one appearance to another. No, they would have to avoid close up exposures to people. One of Hasani’s people would have to be their public face to buy supplies. Now they needed two more vehicles. They might have to steal the cars and trucks they needed and the license plates. Only the numbers on the license plates made individual vehicles of the mass brands identifiable.

He had no choice, multiple attacks had to be put on hold. Martyrdom was always a concept. Now it was real. His attack plans had to change. He would never get back to Pakistan. Tomorrow was the beginning of the last phase of his Jihad. He had to remember the purpose of terrorism is to terrorize. Terror was effective when it affected the common man. People expected terrorism to focus on embassies, airports, security infrastructure, landmark buildings and national treasures. They do not expect they will be involved, nor their property, nor their families. We must continue to pit Americans against each other and foster a lack of faith in their government. This will be a long struggle but one that is worth our treasure and lives. Hasani will be pleased that martyrdom is near. He never felt more alive than right now. Publication of their pictures complicated his plan. Just to keep the security forces scrambling, tomorrow the planned attack on the American Legion Memorial Bridge would go as planned. The attack team would not include Hasani. He needed Hasani with him to modify their plans.

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“Justice without Mercy” Chapter 61

Returning, Jack and Lou found the rest of the team busy planning a mission. They had JWM Serializationseen the news, including the report of a man killed by gunfire after being hit by an SUV. Jack called Frank, who came on the line after a couple of minutes. He said, “Jack, the guy killed on the Parkway was one of the shooters. He was carrying a handgun and a spotter scope. No identity documents. We have several 911 reports of this man being shot after being hit by a car. He was hit twice in the head from very close range. Obviously, a case of making sure he didn’t talk. The same reports said the killer jumped into a white pickup truck on the westbound lane. We have an APB out. I suspect they’ve already dumped the truck, probably in some big parking area. That’s part of the Professor’s M.O. Police are now searching all the parking areas between McLean and the Beltway. We should have the truck in an hour or so. Do you have anything?”

“Not much. Ten shots and ten hits from four to five hundred yards. Nearly exactly 10 seconds apart. Some of the targets were moving, maybe 20 mph. First shot was a head shot. Only a sniper with Hasani’s skills would take a head shot from that distance when he didn’t have to. The shooter was definitely Hasani. He never left any wounded behind. He always had them killed or he did it himself. He made a mistake, not realizing it is suicidal to cross the Parkway on foot when the traffic is moving fast and close. On the day or days he did his casing, the traffic could have been less dangerous. I have two suggestions. Circulate the Professor and Hasani’s pictures. Second, they will need to replace the truck. Canvass for anyone buying a used pickup, panel truck or van and paying cash. Unless they steal a vehicle, they have to pay cash. Oh, one more. I know you have people checking all the relevant cameras, but please tell us if anyone gets a hit.

“They’ll attack somewhere tomorrow. The same target should not be ruled out. If I provide some coordinates, can you have police or military counter-sniper teams in place? Tell them to set up only in the designated area and not to change positions. We don’t want to lose people to friendly fire.”

“Okay. I’ll take care of it.”

Jack rejoined the group. TV monitors covering major news channels were back to back with talking heads discussing who could be responsible, what could the motives be and what could the authorities do to make the roads and bridges safe for commuters.

Jack said, “I’m sure we’ll have another attack tomorrow. We need a list of probable targets now. Let’s cut the search area down with some common sense factors. I’ll start. The sniper’s target has to be worthwhile. Assume the target is the transportation infrastructure. Heavy predictable traffic, potential to cause major tie ups and spread terror. There must be an escape route the authorities cannot shut off with a quick road block. Drop offs and pickups require coordination and luck. Hasani would sooner have a place to park his transportation. Transportation could be one or two motorcycles. Okay. Give me some help.”

Lou said, “The targets will be random. He doesn’t have to search or wait for a designated target. Rush hour in this area is several hours long. He is not forced to meet a time schedule, so the sniper has an advantage. He can pick any few minutes to attack any of dozens if not hundreds of targets, while we have to cover targets 24/7.”

Storm said, “Keep it coming, this is good stuff and I’m getting it all down. I think the coordination link with this sniper has to be a cell phone. Therefore, all the areas we pick should be monitored for cell calls that match any intercepts from today’s attack. I suspect the cells they use are buy-and-throw units. Did they buy them all in advance or as they need them? Jack, your friends might check into their data banks.”


Kathy said, “There are too many targets to protect. Even with a lot of help, they cannot all be covered. My suggestion is that we cover a few, say three or four with on-ground teams and the rest we cover from the air. Two helicopters with counter-sniper teams in the air during time of greatest threat. As soon as we get the first report of an attack in progress, the nearest bird heads to the attacked scene and drops the team astride the most probable escape route. Other assets swarm to the same area to set up roadblocks and deploy more search teams.”

As Kathy finished explaining her approach, a news alert showed up on the monitors. Clear pictures of the Professor and Hasani were shown as persons wanted for the sniper attacks. The men were described as committed Jihadists and were armed and dangerous. Do not attempt to apprehend. Call the authorities on the following hotline number.

Jack said, “Great, that should help smoke them out. Kathy, I like your idea. Storm, you and Lou pick an area for our helicopter to cover. Lou, you and I and Kathy will make up one team. I’ll see if I can arrange for a few more. I’ll need to tell them what area we are covering. Also we will need call signs and a cell or radio link to Storm and Kelly who will man this room. Kelly, don’t look so disappointed. You need some long-gun training first. I’ll try to work it in next week. Okay, everybody, you know what to do. Let’s move.”

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“Justice without Mercy” Chapter 60

Hasani called for pickup when he and Ali started up the wooded, sharply inclined slope. JWM SerializationHe knew they could be in position on the side of the westbound lanes in 12 minutes. Traffic would be heavy on the eastbound lanes. No matter they would get across. He didn’t think the police would have stopped commuter traffic. The capitalist minions had to get to work. They didn’t even know they were in the midst of a war zone. Next time they might be the targets.

Hasani was pushing Ali. Ali was breathing heavily and asked to take a one minute rest. Hasani refused and pushed on. He should have known men like Ali don’t keep themselves in good condition unless someone makes them. He had been so busy getting ready for the Professor’s war, he neglected his men. Now it was too late. Using his immense strength and stamina, he surged past Ali and grabbed his jacket and pulled Ali up the ridge. In a few places he had to use a convenient tree trunk to get them up to the edge of the Parkway. He could hear cars moving swiftly down the Parkway toward the major river crossings into DC. Pulling himself up, he saw the cars were moving at least 50 mph and nearly bumper to bumper. He thought these are crazy people to be rushing to their boring godless life’s work.

The white pickup had already pulled off the road and was impatiently waiting. The driver was waving his arm at them as Hasani, still dragging Ali, appeared on the edge of the eastbound lanes. Only the lanes of fast moving traffic with no breaks were between them and their escape.

At last Hasani saw a break in the traffic. Reaching back to grab Ali, he said, “Be quick. This is our chance.” The break came and Hasani dashed into the break, almost dragging Ali. Crossing the second lane of rapidly braking cars, Ali slipped from Hasani’s grasp and sprawled on the pavement. Hasani looked back, saw there was no chance of dragging Ali off the Parkway, and leapt off the pavement into the grass strip between east- and westbound traffic. He heard the sickening thud of a swerving SUV hit Ali who was trying to scramble to Hasani and safety. Ali was dragged nearly ten yards before his body rolled off the roadway. Hasani left his heavy pack by the road and raced to Ali. He saw that Ali still lived but was terribly mangled by the heavy SUV. Without hesitating, he pulled his Browning 9mm and shot Ali twice in the head. Then picking up Ali’s rifle, he ran back, snatched up his pack and darted through the sparse traffic on the westbound lane. As the pickup merged back into traffic, Hasani promised to give thanks for Ali’s support and his early martyrdom.

He told Asad, the driver, to get off the Parkway at the McLean exit and drive thorough McLean to the Tysons Corner shopping center. He knew he was seen getting into the white pickup after shooting Ali. In the day of everyone with a cell, reports of accidents and crimes flowed into 911. The pickup truck had to be dumped in the parking lot of the shopping center. He would call for a car from his other team members. He hoped he wouldn’t have to abandon his favorite sniping rifle. True to his reputation. Ten shots, ten hits. With that rifle and God’s will, he could not miss.

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“Justice without Mercy” Chapter 59

Butch Malone, supervisor of the eight to four shift, had just come on duty. He checked in JWM Serializationwith the traffic cops to make sure only the inbound lanes were being used this morning. Rush hour traffic was backed up for a least a mile coming down Chain Bridge Road, but moving orderly. His crew all had their instructions and he could see he was on schedule. He had a good crew and was proud of their can-do attitude. Many of the workers he had known for at least a couple of years. Butch was checking the Virginia end of the bridge when he saw the head of the cop directing traffic in the center lane explode. Butch had spent some time in the second Gulf War and knew a heavy caliber rifle sound. He dove behind a dump truck. The second shot boomed and the officer, who ran to the aid of the downed traffic cop, went down. She was hit in the chest. A large area of her back was gone. Blood was pooling in a low spot in the center of the bridge.

Butch used his radio to call for help. He yelled to his number to get the workers under cover now. With his cell he called 911 and told the dispatcher, “Gunshots on Chain Bridge. Two officers down. Send help. We are still under fire. Hurry.”

Three more shots had been fired. Three cars moving on the bridge rolled to an out-of-control stop. Cars close to the bridge that could see the growing confusion and damage, sped up to get across the bridge to safety. Before they reached the center point, three cars were hit in their passenger windows and crashed into bridge repair equipment. Others turned right from Chain Bridge Road and raced up Glebe Road, jamming it. The next two shots killed workers on the bridge who hadn’t found a protective place. Two minutes of no firing and people began to stir. Rescue and police vehicles couldn’t get through the jumbled traffic on the Virginia side. The Maryland end was clear and help was soon on the scene. Two of Butch’s workers were dead from head shots. In addition to the two police officers killed, four people in cars were dead and several other commuters were wounded, two severely.

Frank called Jack’s cell and told him to get up on the bridge and look around, find the sniper’s nest and see what we can learn for the next time. He said he would call the right people and for Jack to show his Pittsburgh police badge as an identifier. Jack yelled to Lou to pack up. He ran back to the car and slid to a stop near where he guessed Lou would emerge from the brush loaded with their gear. Lou dumped the weapons into the truck and Jack roared off to the bridge. A Maryland State Police officer was stopping traffic. Jack showed his badge and the officer waved him through. Parking in the first open area he found, they jumped out of the car and ran across the bridge to the Virginia side. Jack introduced himself to the lieutenant in charge. The lieutenant said, “I just got a call about you, telling me to give you anything you want.”

Jack said, “The sniper fired from somewhere downriver. Probably less than halfway down the ridge and no more than five or six hundred yards from where we are standing. I want to see if I can tell the angle of his shots. Then my partner and I will climb the ridge and see if we can find the sniper’s nest. One more thing, please tell your guys not to shoot at two guys in camouflage suits poking around on the ridge up there.”

Turning to Lou, Jack said, “If I remember correctly a trail runs down to the river from this end of the bridge.”

Lou said, “Yeah, I’ve been fishing along here and there is a way down.”

Jack said, “You check this end of the bridge for anything that’ll give us an angle of the trajectory. I’ll check the wreckage in the middle of the bridge. Yell if you find anything. Wait a minute, maybe we have the trajectory data right here. Lieutenant, where was the officer standing when he was hit when the shooting started?”

“Right over there at the nearest blood puddle. He should have been standing with his back to the shooter and facing oncoming traffic. I see what you’re thinking. He was about 5’11” or six feet tall.”

“Lou, stand over here. This is about one yard from the blood marker and you’re about the same height.”

Using his spotter scope, Jack plotted the trajectory to a general area and marked a prominent tree as a location point 425 yards from where the officer was standing. It took them 25 minutes to climb the steep ridge to the tree. Once there, Jack said, “This is an ideal spot. Good cover, a distance that Hasani could easily manage on a routine basis, and a path back up the slope to a Parkway pick up site. Now let’s find the exact shooting spot. He nearly always shoots from a tripod. The tripod marks will have been swept, but he will have left some mark. No one is good enough to clean up everything without leaving some track.”

Moving in ever-widening circles around the marker tree, Lou found a skid mark where it looked like a boot had slipped going up the slope. Using the skid mark, Jack asked Lou to hold his position while he looked for a tripod site that would give line of sight to the Virginia end of the bridge. The shooting site would have to provide space for a prone shooter and firm tripod site or a sandbag. Jack thought it more likely Hasani kept to his M.O. of using a tripod. It only took him ten more minutes to find the site. There were signs of the cleanup attempt and disturbed leaves where the shooter and his spotter had set up. No brass was found.

Marking the location with his iPhone App, Jack called Frank, gave him the GPS data and asked him to check cell phone traffic from the area starting at 8:06 AM. Hasani needed the cell call to set up an exact pickup time. The shooting started at 8:00 and was over within one minute. He estimated Hasani took five minutes to clean up and would need another ten minutes to climb the slope and to cross the Parkway to the westbound lanes, because going that way provided better escape routes than going farther toward the city on the Eastbound lanes. Traffic cameras may show the getaway vehicle, probably a pickup truck. The .50 caliber rifle Hasani used weighed 27 pounds. The spotter probably had a weapon also but not a heavy caliber. They probably carried the weapons concealed some way, maybe disguised as fishing gear. Frank said, “Good work. We’ll get right on it.” Then hung up.

Jack said, “We’re done here. Let’s get back to the house and get ready for the next attack.”

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“Justice without Mercy” Chapter 58

After the attack on the two bridges, Jack and Lou went into crash mode to counter the JWM Serializationsniper attack they believed would follow. They could only field one team. Kathy and Kelly weren’t up to going against Hasani now. Jack didn’t like not having the time to sight in and fire his rifle. Frank had his best people sight in the rifles but it was definitely not procedure to ever go hunting a sniper without a very thorough session with the rifle, ammo and sights. Jack accepted that emergencies often played hell with following the proper procedure. After studying topo maps and satellite imagery, they decided that their best chance was to work the Chain Bridge area. A deployment site area was chosen on the Maryland side of the Potomac and upriver from the bridge.

Just before first light, Jack pulled into a parking area at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal park about 300 yards upriver from Chain Bridge. Jack and Lou made their way into a clump of winter foliage and high grasses. With camouflage suits they blended in well. Jack knew the site was not good for watching the bridge, but it did give them good views of the opposite high ridges on the Virginia side. If a sniper was set up on those slopes, Jack was sure they could find him, but probably not until he fired. Dividing the search area into sectors, they began to search the opposite shore line and ridge. When the sun came up, Jack realized that Hasani would have spent hours scouting out the best shooting positions. For early morning shooting on a sunny day, it was better to be downriver from the bridge. Too late now. He could see some sections of the steep slope below the bridge. The distance to any probable sniper sites downriver was over a kilometer from their position and difficult due to the sun angle. He knew from experience hunting snipers took patience and extreme care to keep from becoming the hunted.

Two hours of constant searching turned up nothing. At 8:00 AM, the booming sound of a large caliber rifle fired from somewhere downriver broke through the sound of traffic. Nine more shots followed at almost exactly ten-second intervals. Jack had heard that sound before in Ramadi nearly eight years ago when he had been hunting Hasani and his .50 caliber sniping rifle. Even the interval was the same. After 20 seconds of no firing, Jack told Lou to scan for movement. The shooters were on the move, probably up to the Parkway.

Jack said, “Even if we see them, we’ve no shot. No sense in tipping them off that we have figured out their strategy.”

Jack got his cell out and moving a bit away from Lou, asked for Frank. He came on the line instantly. Jack said, “I’m sitting in the brush upriver from Chain Bridge. A sniper has just fired 10 shots. I’m sure he and his spotter are headed up the ridge to the Parkway for their escape ride. Look for pickup trucks. Check both inbound and outbound lanes starting from the first overlook below the bridge. He picked that spot to avoid shooting into the morning sun.” Frank hung up. Jack knew he was firing off orders to begin the hunt.

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“Justice without Mercy” Chapter 57

Hasani finished briefing the Professor on the car bombing operation. The Professor sat JWM Serializationsilent for a few minutes. “My friend, things went well. It’s a good start. Our security is intact. There is no trail back to us. The cars and the bodies will reveal nothing. Even the license plates were stolen. Tomorrow, the fools will expect more car bombs. Instead, you will show them the terror snipers can bring to the enemy. I accept your plan. Tomorrow, it will up to you personally. Take a good man with you. I need you. Your martyrdom is not for tomorrow. Rather, your outstanding skills will bring terror to the city Satan built. It is too bad we were not a team fighting the Templars outside of Jerusalem in the 12th century. Now get some rest. You won’t be able to sleep once you get in position.”

Hasani had scouted the possible firing positions he could use to attack the Chain Bridge area months ago. He knew just were to go and how to get there. At 11:00 PM, the driver of the white Toyota pickup pulled into an overlook area on the George Washington Parkway. The truck was stopped with lights out for less than a minute. Hasani and his spotter Ali were out of the truck with all their gear and starting down the steep slope of the Potomac River below Chain Bridge.

Hasani wanted to be east of the bridge to avoid shooting into the sun at the middle of the morning rush hour. His targets were all within 400 meters, a range he couldn’t miss from. They had a long wait. Hasani wanted to have the pickup truck blend into the normal traffic. After midnight the traffic thinned to the point that individual vehicles might stand out, or a patrolling police car might wonder why a pickup truck was stopping on the Parkway when hours before Chain Bridge was under attack. The killing of an officer always increased the vigilance of all security forces. The killing had not been part of the plan.

A light drizzle helped muffle the sound of their movement. Even so, Hasani enforced great discipline on himself and anyone under his command. No talking, smoking or jingling of equipment. Nothing that might reflect light. Their exit used different paths than the incoming. They had practiced moving on the steep slope many times, carrying fishing rods and proper licenses. They carried minimal equipment. His favorite sniping rifle, the Barrett M82A2, was American made, but they know how to make and use weapons. It weighed 27 pounds. He and his spotter carried a maximum of four magazine loads, 44, .50 Browning rounds.

The sniper nest was well concealed. He needed no night vision equipment to find his firing position. They were set up in ten minutes. The light rain and patches of misting fog might make it difficult to see the bridge and its approaches in the morning. He understood the necessity to be patient. He would wait hours for the right conditions. The Professor told him that the bridge might be closed or opened only for limited use, perhaps a lane for city-bound traffic. If it was closed, his targets were the workmen. The tactic wasn’t to maximize casualties. It was to bring the bridge under attack. Spreading terror was the goal.

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“Justice without Mercy” Chapter 56

Jack and Storm were putting the first search plan together when the TV monitor on the JWM Serializationwall, tuned to Fox, interrupted programming with a news alert. Jack took one look and called the others over the intercom to come down to the command center. Kathy said, “No doubt the guy we are after is here. I’m only surprised he didn’t hit more bridges.”

In Iraq, snipers were often there to spread the chaos and kill the first responders. What is the plan here? Surely this can’t be the end game.

Kathy said, “We know the mantra is ‘the goal of terror is to terrorize.’ This bridge stuff must be only a beginning or … it’s a diversion.”

Kelly asked, “A diversion for what?”

Storm said, “The vulnerability of all cities is their need for the movement of goods and services. Throughout history, population centers were attacked by shutting off supplies into the cities under siege.”

“Storm, good approach,” Jack said. “The terrorists involved here are led by a man who has a deep historical understanding of warfare and the role of terror. He knows he doesn’t have the resources to block supply routes, there are just too many of them. His aim may be to spread chaos and terror among the people, just as their doctrine teaches. So what can he attack?”

Kathy said, “He can attack the streams of traffic that occur every day in hundreds of places. He doesn’t have to stop the flow of goods and services. He only has to disrupt them. Attacks could be at a different place every day. It would drive the police units crazy. If the attacks could be sustained for a few months, DC would be turned in to a city under siege.”

Lou looked at Jack and said, “You know what I’m thinking?”

“Yes! You’re thinking he can’t use car bombs to put the city under siege and spread chaos and terror through the population, because he couldn’t keep it up. Not enough resources and widespread car bombing is very complicated. Preparations are critical and you need a safe area to prepare the cars and train the people who will not survive the attacks. So you need a steady supply of vehicles and people. They are not reusable. It just so happens that we know the answer. Teams of snipers. Snipers can escape after the attack. There is a need only for ammo resupply and transportation. Targets are everywhere and anywhere. Firing positions 500 or 1,000 yards from the target are very difficult for fast reaction teams to attack. By the time we figure out where the attack came from, the snipers have moved.”

Kelly said, “Makes sense to me. You told us a highly skilled al Qaeda sniper is in the country. Your analysis fits the intelligence we have.”

Storm asked, “But why the car bombs?”

Kathy replied, “Because they wanted to start with a diversion. This guy knows no one could convince the security world that the real attack will come from teams of snipers. Even after the snipers begin, the security people will be worrying about car bombs and will not be willing to switch their resources to counter sniper teams. In a nutshell, that’s why we were asked to take on this mission, because the very smart people tasking us know how security and law and order organizations think.”

Jack said, “Okay. We ignore the car bombs and concentrate on the sniper threat. Storm and I will lay out the first search area. Kathy, wait until Lou and I come back with some lessons learned before you and Kelly work on your search pattern with Storm. Before we all get to work, did you and Kelly learn anything yesterday on your ground tour to the west?”

“Yes, we did. I already was familiar with the terrain but it was all new to Kelly. She can now look at a map of the area and have a better understanding of ground truth. Also, we checked county courthouses for small farm property transactions in the last three years. The badge helped with the record search. The clerks were very responsive. In Loudon County west of Goose Creek, there were 100 transactions. In western Montgomery County, 75 small farms under 20 acres changed hands in the same period. Kelly and I will work with Storm to mark these places on our maps. We’ll need a little luck to get much from a property search. We also need something to narrow down the area. Kelly and I will ponder that problem.”

Meeting over. People turned to their own tasks.

Jack went up to the master suite and called Frank. When he came on line. Jack said, “I know you’re swamped but give me a few minutes to tell you our thinking.”

Jack then gave Frank a full rundown on the meeting consensus.

Frank said, “That’s why I wanted your group up here working the problem. I agree. It will be snipers, probably starting tomorrow. The Professor won’t give us any breaks. He will feast on the chaos he caused today. What are your plans?”

“I believe the sniper attacks will take place in the areas of the two car bombs. I don’t mean the bridges themselves but the resulting traffic pattern from bridge closures or limited use. I doubt he has more than four or five teams. He won’t want any teams captured or killed. So Hasani will plan for long-range shots, probably nothing less than 300 yards. You know the closer the shooter is to the target, the more likely the target will be hit, but also closeness puts the shooters in greater danger. Good snipers are hard to find or train. He won’t want to lose any right now. So he will only want targets that can be hit with long range shots.

“I remember Hasani favored .50 caliber rifles, the Barrett specifically. There won’t be much if any sound suppression. My guess is that he’ll position a team upriver in the Potomac River Gorge where the shooter can be higher than Chain Bridge. Most likely on the ridge below the George Washington Parkway where there is a clear shot to the bridge area. The trees are still bare. Visibility should be good. He won’t want rain or high wind. There will have to be a good escape route. Probably have the snipers climb to the Parkway and get into a vehicle. At least that’s the way I would do it. The attack could shift to the Parkway itself, if Chain Bridge is closed. The same kind of logic fits the area of the Cabin John Bridge or whatever it’s called today. We’ll need to know what the traffic situations on those bridges will be tomorrow. We need to be able to focus on the most likely target.”

“Good. I’ll call you about planned bridge traffic for tomorrow. The entire effort of all the security forces will be to prevent another car bomb attack. When one doesn’t happen, they will say, “See, we stopped the terrorist car bomb attacks. I don’t drink anymore, but they may drive me back to the bottle.”

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