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Sleeping With the Devil: How Washington Sold Its Soul for Saudi Crude (Anglais) Relié – juillet 2003

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--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché.

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We Deliver Anywhere

Caesarea, Israel
April 7, 2001

The marble Palace perched amid the olive trees above the sea looked like a lot of other posh resort hotels I'd seen around the Mediterranean. The shiny new Mercedes and canary yellow Ferrari parked out front fit right in. I knew that if I poked around a little, I'd find a casino somewhere on the premises.

It didn't take me long, though, to notice that a couple things were out of place: the pack of little blond boys running around on the front lawn, shouting in Russian, and the young girls wearing identical bandeau bikinis, reading glossy Moscow weeklies by the pool. When the bellboy greeted me in Russian, I knew I had landed on one of those Russian beachheads I'd heard so much about. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian mob, Russians fleeing the Russian mob, and just plain rich Russians had been setting up all along the Riviera, including Israel's coastline. The fancier the place, the better. Money never seemed to be a problem. And they liked to keep to themselves.

I was actually in Caesarea to see a Russian, someone I'd known only by reputation. Yuri, as I will call him, was a merchant of death. He had made a colossal fortune in the early 1990s trading small arms for West African oil. Over the last several years, with capital under his belt and the free run of Russia's state-arms-trading firm, Rosvoorouzhenie, he'd branched out and started peddling arms everywhere. Supposedly, Yuri could put his hands on almost any piece of Russian hardware, from a MIG-31 to a T-80 main-battle tank. But he did have his professional ethics. When a competitor floated the rumor that Yuri was moving weapons-grade uranium, Yuri had him squashed like a Volga tick. It was one thing to earn an honest living fueling civil wars in West Africa, but something entirely different to deal in the nasty stuff.

I saw Yuri come out of the elevator. Dressed in a pair of pressed Levi's, suede Italian loafers, and a diaphanous white linen shirt, he could have passed for a well-heeled tourist. Slim and sandy haired, he looked younger than his forty-five years.

We settled in a restaurant where Yuri waited glumly for his coffee. My chitchat about the weather, Caesarea, whatever I could think of that might keep the conversation from sinking into silence, barely got a nod out of him. I stopped talking and took a closer look. His waxy yellow skin told me he hadn't been spending his time on the beach or the links. To judge by the spiderweb of broken blood vessels in his cheeks, he liked to relax with a bottle of vodka.

My business with Yuri, if you want to call it that, was to do a favor for a friend who wanted to know if Yuri was interested in financing an oil contract, a perfectly legitimate one. My friend figured that the Russian, with all his loose cash, might want to get out of the arms trade and clean up his reputation.

As soon as Yuri finished his second espresso, I popped the question. I was halfway through it when he held up his hand to stop me. "You're on your way to Syria, our friend tells me," he said.

He was right. The next day I was flying to Amman, Jordan, and from there to Damascus. The borders between Syria and Israel had been closed ever since Israel's independence over half a century earlier. You had to touch down somewhere else before setting foot in Syria.

"I'm in the market for Syrian oil," Yuri said. "I'll take as much as they'll give me. And you know what? I'll pay two dollars above market price."

That was a curveball I hadn't seen coming. I didn't need to be a professional oil trader to understand that Yuri didn't have legitimate Syrian oil in mind--no one pays two dollars a barrel over world market for any oil. What Yuri was after, I had little doubt, was sanction-busting Iraqi oil, currently selling for a discount of ten to fifteen dollars a barrel in Syria. It was impossible to nail down the exact amounts involved--Syria obviously didn't publish figures--but I'd seen estimates that put the total trade above $3 billion a year, a business big enough to attract Yuri and lots of other vultures of the global economy.

Iraq was glad to have another market for its illicit oil, even at a steeply discounted price. It was thanks to smuggled oil that Saddam Hussein had stayed afloat since the end of the Gulf War. Saddam used the revenues to feed and equip his elite troops and intelligence services--his brutal praetorian guard. The clandestine trade in oil had started as soon as the last American M-16 fired its last round in February 1991. At first the oil moved via small barges hugging either side of the Persian Gulf coast and traveling at night, thereby avoiding detection by the American fleet. Iraq then started smuggling it out by truck, mostly to Turkey and Iran. I had seen miles-long truck convoys when I was in Kurdistan in 1994 and 1995. Syria came late to the game but was more than making up for that in sheer volume. Most oil went through an old pipeline to the Syrian port of Baniyas. Some came in by truck.

With all the revenue from Iraqi oil sold outside the United Nations-imposed oil-for-food regimen, Saddam did quite nicely. Not only could he pay for the forces that kept him from being overthrown, he had even started reequipping his regular army. Shipments of new Russian goodies were arriving every day. There was also enough money left over to keep Saddam's inner circle, including his vicious son Uday, who ran the oil business, from worrying about a shortage of Cuban cigars, sports cars, and prostitutes. The Iraqi in the street never saw a penny of it.

Syria didn't do badly, either. By selling the illegal Iraqi oil on its domestic market, Syria freed up the oil it pumped from its own fields to sell abroad at world prices. In 2000 the country's exports rocketed from 320,000 to 450,000 barrels a day. Syria, of course, denied that the increase had anything to do with Iraqi oil, insisting against all evidence that the extra 130,000 barrels were squeezed out of its own fields. The fact is, Syria was making hundreds of millions of dollars a year off illicit Iraqi oil. For a country whose economy had been about to crater, that was a godsend.

As for the commission agents and traders--the WD-40 of this lovely end run around the United Nations sanctions on Iraq--there was plenty of money to treat themselves to new estates in Saint-Tropez or on Spain's Gold Coast. Maybe that's what Yuri was after: He seemed to have taken a liking to sweeping views of the Mediterranean.

The problem with Iraqi oil wasn't buying; it was unloading. Although the trade in Iraqi crude was an open secret, Syria didn't want to give anyone the chance to make a case by seizing a tanker full of the stuff. Syria never knew when some powerful congressman might hammer the State Department and the navy, forcing them to do something about the oil. With the screws turned, it wouldn't take the navy long to find a Syrian oil tanker on the Mediterranean. Sobered by such an ugly prospect, Syria wouldn't allow a drop of Iraqi oil to be exported. Yuri would have to come up with a damn serious sweetener to change Syria's mind. Illegal oil trading isn't my thing, but curiosity is, so I played along. They'd taught us at Langley that involvement is the first step to understanding.

"How are we going to make any money if we pay two dollars more than we have to?" I asked.

Yuri cut me off before I could continue. "Leave the numbers up to me." He didn't say anything for a minute, probably deciding how much he could risk telling me. Like espionage, the oil and arms business is run on a strict need-to-know basis: Give up only what you have to.

"What I'll tell you is this," Yuri went on. "I intend to wrap up my offer in a nice, neat package. I'm talking about PMU-300s. Tomorrow I could put my hand on twenty TELs and a hundred pencils. You open the door in Damascus, and I'll convince the Syrians this is a deal they can't refuse."

Now things were starting to get interesting. In the arms lingo, a TEL is a transporter-erector-launcher, and a pencil is a missile, but this wasn't just any TEL. The PMU-300 is a sophisticated Russian mobile surface-to-air missile system. I wasn't surprised Yuri was offering it for sale--he sold Russian arms for a living. What did surprise me was that he was pitching it here in Israel. Technically, Syria and Israel are at war. Syria's possession of PMU-300s would upset the balance of force between the two countries. I couldn't imagine Israel would be pleased to find out that sophisticated arms were being sold to its archenemy on its own soil, one sunny morning halfway between Tel Aviv and the Lebanese border. Then again, money helps disguise a lot of unpleasant truths.

I wasn't going to buy illegal Iraqi oil, and I wasn't going to buy arms for Syria, but I was closing in on the answer to a question I'd had for a long time. If Yuri was prepared to sell PMU-300s from a luxury resort hotel in Caesarea, armed with an international cell phone and a fat Rolodex, what else could he sell? And to whom? You don't need to be ex-CIA to know that globalization isn't just about Diesel jeans, Sony PlayStations, and Mercedeses. What I intended to find out was exactly how globalized the shady side of the arms business had become.

From the Hardcover edition. --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

Revue de presse

"A chilling evaluation of today's geopolitical situation...highly recommended."
--Dallas Morning News

"An unsettling, eye-opening account of our relationship with Saudi Arabia... [Baer] gets our attention." --Boston Herald

“Details how an administration known for its vigilance on the international scene routinely and inexplicably spins, caves, and hops for the Saudis.” -- The Washington Post

"[Baer] makes a strong case that Saudi Arabia-with skyrocketing birth rates, growing unemployment, a falling per capita income and a corrupt ruling family draining the public coffers-is a powder keg waiting to explode." --Publishers Weekly

--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 164 commentaires
204 internautes sur 218 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Compelling Condemnation of Crude Corruption 29 juillet 2003
Par Robert David STEELE Vivas - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Edit of 22 Dec to add links. Book is available in paperback.

Former spy Robert Baer, author of See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism, makes the leap from intelligence reformist to national mentor with his new book, "SLEEPING WITH THE DEVIL: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude." Indeed, his last sentence has the White House laying in the moonlight with its legs spread, lustfully eyeing the Saudi wallet on the bureau.

This is an extraordinary compelling work, not least because it provides detailed and documented discovery not previously available, of how the U.S. government has over the course of several administrations made a deliberate decision to a) not spy on the Arab countries, b) not collect and read open sources in Arabic, c) not attempt to understand the sub-state actors such as the Muslim brotherhood, despite a long history in which these groups commit suicide to achieve their objectives, including the murder of several heads of state.

Baer's most brutal points should make every American shudder: it is America itself that is subsidizing terrorism, as well as the corruption of the Saudi royal family. Baer's documented estimate is that $1 dollar from every barrel of petroleum is spent on Saudi royal family sexual misbehavior, and $1.50 of every barrel of petroleum bought by America ultimately ends up funding extremist schools, foundations, and terrorist groups.

Baer has "gone back in time" to document how all of this terrorism began in the 1970's, but despite its terrible local consequences (including the assassination of heads of state), was ignored by Washington as "a local problem."

In one lovely real-life account, Baer, then duty officer at CIA while Iraq poised to invade Kuwait, found that the $35 billion per year system was useless, impotent. It came down to his calling the chief of station in Kuwait, who called a border guard, who lifted his binoculars and described the Iraqi tanks stopped for lunch. Baer says: "As I waited, I wondered: Is this what all that money for intelligence is buying us? A pair of binoculars?"

Baer joins with Robert Kaplan in concluding that democracy in Arabia would be an out and out disaster. The decades of Islamic extremism and anti-Americanism run amok cannot be resolved by democratic elections because the very people who most hate America will be elected. Baer observes that "strongman tactics" such as used by Saddam Hussein and by the Syrian leadership--including a "scorched earth" campaign against the internal terrorist groups--are a more stable "rule of law". One can conclude that the US has made a mistake in destabilizing Iraq, and that the imposition of a democratic solution in Iraq will turn out to be vastly more difficult, and vastly more expensive, than the naive neo-conservatives understood when they set forth without bothering to establish who was in the majority within the population being "liberated."

Saudi Arabia has bought and paid for all the White House and Congressional influence it needs. This is why the recently released 9-11 report contains no mention of the secret documentation of Saudi Arabian complicity in the terrorism that took 3,000 American lives. As Senator Shelby noted on PBS NewsHour recently (he has read the secret report), 93% of the blanked out pages, and specifically those on Saudi sponsorship of terrorism against America and other nations, is a "con man's" effort to avoid "embarrassment." As the families of the 9-11 victims have said, "we need to know."

Baer is extraordinary. He was a success as a case officer (a clandestine representive of America dealing with traitors and terrorists under conditions of extreme risk), and he has now become a sort of "Patrick Henry" of the modern era, warning us in clear and compelling terms that White House corruption (a non-partisan recurring corruption) and Saudi Arabia are the twin swords upon which this great Nation may yet impale itself.

Other books Americans need to read (or at least read the reviews):
Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency
Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It
Breach of Trust: How Washington Turns Outsiders Into Insiders
Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA
Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq
The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism: How the Financial System Underminded Social Ideals, Damaged Trust in the Markets, Robbed Investors of Trillions - and What to Do About It
Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil
Rule by Secrecy: The Hidden History That Connects the Trilateral Commission, the Freemasons, and the Great Pyramids
9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA, Fourth Edition
38 internautes sur 38 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Compelling Reading! 12 novembre 2003
Par Barron Laycock - Publié sur
Format: Relié
Given his stature as a former CIA operative working extensively within the Middle East, author Robert Baer uses his unique blend of personal insight and extensive research to illustrate just how dangerous a road we Americans have embarked on by hitching our wagon to the star hovering over the House of Saud. From the opening nightmare scenario of a fragile and exposed oil delivery network that is dangerously vulnerable to terrorist attack to the final considerations of just how intertwined and interminably convoluted the geo-politics among the American government, the international oil concerns, the Saudi royal family, and the radical Islamic fundamentalists such as the Muslim Brotherhood seems to be, this is a book that all of us can profit by reading.
What is most rotten within the welter of factors is the Saudi royal family itself, so large, so cumbersome, and so bedeviled by greed and corruption that it is crumbling from within. The fact of this wracking corruption and approaching demise of the House of Saud may well be catastrophic, according to Baer, yet people within the American government are so compromised by the overwhelming flood of money via bribes, payoff, and subsidies that no one dare speak an angry or critical word against the Saudis, even as the royal family provides hundreds of millions of dollars to terrorist front organizations and as it actively supports and promotes the radical anti-western Wahabbi sect within the Kingdom itself. It is a kingdom built on what is proving to be a literal time bomb built of contradictory impulses and interests.
Given the fact that Saudi oil provides the lynchpin of world wide petroleum prices, instability within the regime is extremely threatening to economic stability of world markets, and the fall of the House of Saud could well be catastrophic for the west, which depends on relatively cheap and easily available oil for its economy and its very basis of life. Yet the Saudi regime tolerates thievery, ignores prostitution, and both directly and indirectly promotes both radical Muslim fundamentalism and terrorism. For Baer, it is no accident that the bulk of the hijackers involved in the 911 tragedy were dissident Saudis. Nor is it an accident that both the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Quaida are so well financed, since the royal family has been sponsoring their activities for more than a decade.
Given this, the stage is set, argues the author, for a potentially catastrophic event, one that might require American military intervention and result in the triggering of an economic meltdown the likes of which have not been seen since the great Depression. Amazingly, though, the American government continues to maintain the idea that the situation is stable, that the Saudis are our friends and allies, and that the Kingdom is moving down the road toward a more egalitarian form of self-government. Unless we adopt a more enlightened policy and work toward the end of protecting American interests for the long term, we are likely to find ourselves on the wrong end of a losing proposition. This is an important and quite informative book, and one I highly recommend. Enjoy!
63 internautes sur 69 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
With friends like these, who needs enemies? 9 janvier 2004
Par the wizard of uz - Publié sur
Format: Relié
Welcome to the Magic Kingdom: Saudi Arabia.
Former Middle East CIA operative Robert Baer, author of the critically acclaimed memoir 'See No Evil' follows up that work with a brilliant expose at the world's best funded breeding ground for terrorists, our allies (?) The Saudis.
" We had hardwired in our brains that the stereotype of young , oil-rich brats screaming at their Filipino servants to take the wrappers off their candy . . .Sept 11 undid that stereotype for me "
By 'we' he means CIA and other official Mid-East think tanks. If they were so far off, what did the average American know? The Saudis were our buddies, they had never gone to war against Israel and they probably celebrated the 4th of July with fireworks. . .
An image that Baer contends was sold to the American people, because half of Washington was bribed and the other had their heads buried in the sand.
A few items:
1. Osama, as we all know is a Suadi. In fact, to many opposing the royal family (about every Saudi that's not a millionare) he's a national hero. Fifteen of the 9/11 hijakers were Saudi nationals. Ditto for aprox 75% of the al Qaeda prisoners subsequently held at Guantanamo "the worst of the worst."
2. Back in 1996 when Sudan had Osama in custody, The Saudi government declined the offer to have him extradited back home. Reason? He was too popular, let him go. .
3. Saudi citizens blew up the National Guard facility in '95 and the Khobar barracks in '96. Two Saudis and one Egyptian hijacked a plane to Baghdad in 2000. Saudis were almost certainly behind the atttack on the USS Cole as well as hundreds of other terrorists activities prior to 9/11 from Kenya to Chechnya-- and yet, unlike say, an Argentinian or a Frenchman, Saudis did not have to bother to appear at a screening at an American embassy to get to the US. A system called 'Visa Express' took care of it for a fee. In other words, any Saudi travel agent stood in place of the American government. Baer tells us that under this system, Osama himself could have gotten through.
4.The Saudi government has not allowed the FBI or any US agency to question the relatives or associates of the 9/11 hijackers despite repeated requests.
5. The Royal Family is demented. Made up of five extended 'dysfunctional' families presently run by King Fahd's favorite wife, Jawara and her son Abd-al Aziz, or Azuzi ( 'deary' as Mommy calls him ) they spend more money than France on their 'army' --a praetorian palace guard.
6. There is no rule of law, it's a Mafia chieftain's paradise run by deary. Leaders of the world in public beheadings (Riyadh plaza is commonly known as Chop-Chop square) The Royals hedge their bets by supporting universities which are, in fact, ultra fundamentalist Anti American hate camps.
7. Further hedging are shows of piety put on by their muttawa, the public-decency police, which performs the useful function of beating women on the legs and arms if their robes are too short. In March 2002 it blocked the exit of a girl's school on fire because the girls weren't properly covered. Fourteen died. Not unusual in a country which Baer contends is 'the most sexually repressed on earth' Women are kept out of touch with men until the day they marry. A woman cannot drive, Only 5% of them work, if she needs to go anywhere a male relative must chauffer and chaperone her. In desperation, Saudi men have written their cell phones and taped it to cars they are trying to 'sell' in the hope some brazen Saudi girl will call them--even if they risk public stoning. These are the poor, of course as to the rich, it's THE Middle eastern joke that Saudis spend a staggering amount of its GDP on sex--in Europe's red light ditricts.
What is less than amusing is that this 'hedging' with terrorists cannot go on forever. The Royals are bribing the people who would cheerfully execute them. Plus , with the availability of MAJOR weapons of destruction from the former USSR for sale---a point which Baer goes into in the very first chapter, as he talks to a Russian arms dealer who is stationed at a luxury resort in--of all places, Israel, The Royals may meet their end and then it's anyone's guess who will run the country with the essential oil reserves The West needs to function but it's doubtfull it'll be a group of tolerant Ghandi-like pacifists.
Baer has done it again. Great research and great reading.
50 internautes sur 58 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
More pieces to the puzzle 24 juillet 2003
Par Un client - Publié sur
Format: Relié
I have, like most Americans, have wondered how we got into the 9/11 mess to start with. This book adds more pieces to the puzzle by showing the relationship America has had with Saudi Arabia and, really the rest of the Middle East, since oil was discovered there. The whole thing reminds me of several boys who can't resist eating a chocolate cake before dinner. When confronted as to who ate all the cake, the boys, all covered in chocolate point firmly at each other.
The US government, with an ever growing demand for oil to fuel our plastic SUV world turned a blind eye to the serious political situation of our main suppier, Saudi Arabia, a country ruled by the most dysfunctional family ever. The royal family must contend with not only family members who spend them into oblivion, but also with various terrorist groups who must be appeased with new mosques, weapons, money, and a safe haven.
Baer goes into as much detail as he can to show how the mechanism has worked over the years. Some sections are blacked out as the CIA considers the information classified. Also, since Baer was not a high level agent, there are some connections that can be reasonably made, but not proven. You will need to see how this unfolds in the coming years to get the complete story.
Bottom line: Read this book to fill in the background on the current Middle East situation.
15 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
the real 'Axis of Evil' 17 juillet 2005
Par John T. Miller IV - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Robert Baer, a twenty year veteran case officer of the Central Intelligence Agency's Directorate of Operations (the people who have their feet on the ground in foreign nations around the world) who most recently served as vice-director of operations, Iraq, shatters the consensual naiveté of Western populace with his compelling and disturbing work, "SLEEPING WITH THE DEVIL: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude." In a work that spans nearly the entirety of his two-decade experiences and takes us through the dark and disgustingly murky intrigues and backroom graft that have made regime of Saudi Arabia virtually inseparable from the political process of modern America.

Let's get something straight; unlike most of his contemporaries Robert Baer makes no socio-political argument within his text. The truth, as he sees it, is his only cause. Regardless of your political persuasion and the vagaries of your opinions on the social contract of the individual vis-a-vis the state "Sleeping with the Devil" will make you take a second look at the party you favored with your vote. In fact, Baer refers to the last half century of corruption within Washington to be "the greatest bi-partisan effort in the history of Washington politics". A period which began with a briefcase containing one million dollars accidentally "forgotten" by Khashoggi, a Saudi billionaire (who is still active in Washington today), in the Nixon White house and has continued unabated and in ever growing depth to the modern day.

The road to corruption is paved in black gold it seems. Baer leads us down this miasmic path and walks us through backroom deals of Washington's K Street lobbyists, intrigues in sub-Saharan Africa, the 4.6 billion dollar palace of the most corrupt Saudi Prince and pool-side meetings with Russian Mafiya arms-traffickers. How does it all come together? Baer's brutal truth should make every American reader shudder; it is our nation's political elite who have blindly subsidized the very terrorism of which we have recently become victims.

Through our alliance with the House of Saud (the Saudi Royal Family) we have seen billions of petrodollars go to regime who has returned that money to us via graft and commissions to buy all the influence it needs. The rest of the western money is largely spent in two fashions. The lion's share goes to funding their own decadent excess. A Baer gives us insight into a lifestyle of depravity which includes almost ten-thousand princes, twice again as many palaces, the thousands of Filipino and Moroccan women who serve at their pleasure, and a lifestyle in which there is open competition for the greatest amount of excess.

The Saud royal lifestyle has not gone unnoticed by the people of Saudi Arabia and it brings us to the far more disturbing second use of western oil-money. The Saudi's own people have suffered the most at their hands; they have no rights and referred to as property on their own passports. Religious fundamentalists have long decried the `heretical' lifestyles of their "rulers" and here lies the truth of things. The despotic Saudi regime is holding on by the most tenuous of grips. In attempt to placate the fundamentalists who want to drag them into the streets the Saudi's have spent countless billions funding their actions. After fourty-years of such protection payoffs the largest Arab nation has been transformed into a breeding ground for militant fundamentalism. The Saudi educational system has been entirely conscripted, all children save for those of royalty and their retainers are educated in madrasahs, schools of Islamic hate that enforce faith with brutality, ignorance, and censorship. 75% of all collegiate graduates earn degrees in Islamic Studies, which creates a working class who are unqualified to hold any job. This majority of educationally indoctrinated, poor, and religiously fanatical citizenry is the source for much of the destabilization of the Arab world and is a reality that is about to boil over. Is it any wonder than nearly all of the 9/11 hijackers were born and raised Saudi subjects? Worse, the Western world (and more recently China and Russia) were the ones, by proxy, responsible for its funding. This is the picture Robert Baer paints for us.

These accounts aren't after-the fact punditry and are only the tip of the iceberg, Baer was there. In fact, prior to publication the book was vetted by the CIA and significant sections were deleted due at their demand. Rather than leave gaping wholes in his arguments and making note of their removal in his epilogue Bear leaves the blacked out print in place, giving the reader a tantalizing contextual insight into just what `the company' wanted removed. The reality Robert Baer shows us is a disturbing one and like a modern Paul Revere, "Sleeping with the Devil" is his clarion call, here is the enemy and they're coming.
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