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Tags George H. W. Bush , Iran history , US-Iran relations , USS Vincennes

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Old 13th May 2018, 10:16 PM   #1
Venom
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Iranian revenge for USS Vincennes shootdown?

How many 'revenge attacks', if you will, do you know of that can be potentially linked to the USS Vincennes downing of the Iranian Airbus in 1988?

I thought this was really fascinating but I cannot find much info on it. If you know more information about this I'd like to hear it.

Quote:
The wife of Capt. Will Rogers III, skipper of the San Diego-based Vincennes, escaped unharmed Friday morning moments before a pipe bomb exploded under her van, igniting a fire that gutted her vehicle at a busy La Jolla intersection.

Hours after the 7:40 a.m. explosion, the FBI took control of the investigation, suspecting that the bombing might be an act of "domestic terrorism" linked to the Vincennes' accidental downing of an Iranian civilian airliner in the Persian Gulf last July, killing 290. The Navy and Marine Corps tightened security at every military installation in San Diego County.
Apparently Ms. Rogers had to quit her job as a schoolteacher because of the security burden.

Also I like to think that the Pan Am 103 bombing was masterminded in Iran and carried out by their agents out west.
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Old 14th May 2018, 01:20 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Venom View Post
How many 'revenge attacks', if you will, do you know of that can be potentially linked to the USS Vincennes downing of the Iranian Airbus in 1988?

I thought this was really fascinating but I cannot find much info on it. If you know more information about this I'd like to hear it.
I have no idea how many, if any, revenge attacks there may have been.

The pipe bomb attack on Sharon Rogers was 29 years ago, did the FBI investigation come to any conclusion ? They failed to find evidence to support that claim but then again were unwilling to state anything conclusively:

Quote:
A year later, the image of the blackened van at a suburban intersection is still vivid. But fears that the attack was the work of foreign terrorists have dimmed as investigators failed to find any firm leads.

Federal agents have neither ruled out nor confirmed the theory that the van was blown up by an operative working for the late Iranian leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Nor will investigators discuss other hypotheses for the bombing, including reports that an angry associate of Capt. Rogers has been a suspect and allegations that an extramarital affair involving the Navy skipper could have provided a motive.
https://www.upi.com/Archives/1990/03...2080636958800/

Originally Posted by Venom View Post
Apparently Ms. Rogers had to quit her job as a schoolteacher because of the security burden.

Also I like to think that the Pan Am 103 bombing was masterminded in Iran and carried out by their agents out west.
You might like to think that, but do you have any evidence to support it ?

It looks like Iran is becoming the bogeyman for all things once again
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Old 14th May 2018, 01:47 AM   #3
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Yeah, but...when a terrorist attack like that occurs six months after threats of revenge and it comes out that Libyan officials probably didn't do it, you have to give a lot of credence to the conspiracy theory.
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Old 14th May 2018, 03:02 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Venom View Post
Yeah, but...when a terrorist attack like that occurs six months after threats of revenge and it comes out that Libyan officials probably didn't do it, you have to give a lot of credence to the conspiracy theory.
Why ? Just because it fits with the current sentiment in the GOP where demonising Iran is back at the top of the agenda ?

Is there any evidence to connect PanAm 103 to Iran ?

If so then credence can be given, if not it remains an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory.
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Old 14th May 2018, 04:48 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by The Don View Post
Why ? Just because it fits with the current sentiment in the GOP where demonising Iran is back at the top of the agenda ?

Is there any evidence to connect PanAm 103 to Iran ?

If so then credence can be given, if not it remains an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory.
According to an Al Jazeera documentary from 2014, there is.

This has nothing to do with the current GOP sentiment. In fact, Iran was the main suspect from the get-go, acting through the PFLP-GC. Then political circumstances changed and it was more convenient to blame Libya, and a tall tale was constructed that two Libyan agents had smuggled the suitcase with bomb aboard an airliner in Malta, which subsequently was carried over to another airliner in Frankfurt and carried over again to its final destination plane at Heathrow. I'll leave the floor to Rolfe to explain that the suitcase was smuggled aboard at Heathrow.
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Old 14th May 2018, 04:44 PM   #6
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You called?

Originally Posted by Venom View Post
Yeah, but...when a terrorist attack like that occurs six months after threats of revenge and it comes out that Libyan officials probably didn't do it, you have to give a lot of credence to the conspiracy theory.

This.

The theory that Lockerbie was revenge for IR655 isn't a hill I would absolutely martyr myself on, but it's by far the most likely explanation for the atrocity. It was the main theory of the investigators for almost two years after the crash and there was a fair bit of evidence to support it.

IR655 happened in July 1988, PA103 happened in December of that year. In September/October a bunch of Palestinian/Syrian terrorists with experience in blowing aircraft out of the sky reformed their cell after about 20 years of little activity. The bomb-maker, Marwan Khreesat (yes this is actually him) had been working in Jordan as a television repairman. There's a great deal of scuttlebut to the effect that the Iranian government commissioned the group to bring down one or more US airliners as revenge for IR655, including evidence (disputed, as all this stuff is) of the group receiving a bank transfer of $10 million from Iran.

In October the cell was busted by the German cops and 17 of the group (including Khreesat) taken into custody. Most were released within 48 hours and Khreesat himself was released not long afterwards after making one phone call to Jordan. In spite of the ringleaders being arrested in a car with an IED built into a radio-cassette player in the boot, and a bunch of other evidence, a judge said there was insufficient evidence to hold the men. Funny that.

Some commentators declare that the arrests stopped whatever plan these guys were hatching dead in its tracks, however there were a bunch more IEDs built into various items of consumer electronics in their safe house, and these weren't discovered until the following April, after Lockerbie happened. The bomb that brought down Maid of the Seas was extremely similar to the bombs Khreesat had been building. The terrorists who were arrested were only held for a very short time.

So, we have certain knowledge of a terrorist gang active in the autumn of 1988 and with links to Iran, making bombs designed to bring down airliners in flight, and in particular building them into things like radio-cassette players. The bombs were designed to blow up about 40 minutes after the aircraft took off, by means of a barometer built into the mechanism. The bomb that brought down PA103 was built into a radio-cassette player and the plane blew apart exactly 38 minutes after its wheels left the tarmac.

Except, in the end the investigators decided these were not the people responsible for Lockerbie. Instead they went after a completely different culprit, Libya, and people with no history of bombing aircraft, or expertise in the area. (The Palestinian gang had been blowing up aircraft bound for Israel by more or less the same method back in 1970.)

If we leave aside geopolitical considerations that may have made Libya a far more acceptable culprit than Iran, politically, at that time, what seems to have happened is this.

The bomb that brought down PA103 was loaded into an unattended baggage container sitting in a shed at Heathrow airport, at about 4.30 pm on the day of the disaster. The evidence for this is quite clear. However the investigators walked straight past this evidence as if it wasn't there and insisted that the suitcase containing the bomb had actually been transferred from a connecting flight from Frankfurt. (The connecting flight arrived more than an hour after the bomb suitcase was seen in the container by a baggage handler.) This is all a bit convoluted but can be understood by anyone prepared to wade through this.

So the investigators concentrated on Frankfurt, and from there their attention turned to Malta airport. They became absolutely convinced that the bomb had begun its journey there at about 9 am, loaded on an Air Malta flight to Frankfurt as illegitmate unaccompanied luggage, and then transferred through the automated baggage transfer system to the PA103 feeder flight. Their conviction never wavered, even when painstaking and prolonged investigation on Malta (where there was another cell of the same Palestinian terrorist group) failed to find any connection between the suspects and the Air Malta flight - or indeed any evidence of an unaccompanied suitcase on the flight in question.

Well, it seems to me that if you're looking for the right people in the wrong place you might have trouble getting the evidence you need to bring them to book. By the autumn of 1990 the gung-ho rhetoric of imminent arrests for Lockerbie (that would be arrests of the Palestinian gang), so prevalent in 1989, had given way to frustrated silence. Then in late 1990, after a re-think caused by the identification of a puzzling piece of evidence, the investigators decided that their problem had been that they were looking for the wrong people. They needed to look for Libyans.

That's another long and complicated story, but in the end they managed to cobble a case together against two Libyan airline staff, one of whom (Abdelbaset al-Megrahi) had been at the airport in Malta at the salient time, catching a flight back to Tripoli after a business trip to Malta.

The likelihood is that nobody expected this case to come to trial. The whole point was to get sanctions imposed on Libya and cripple its economy. This was however too successful, in that Libya was suffering so badly that the two accused agreed to surrender themselves for trial. That was where the spectacularly threadbare nature of the case against them was revealed, however it seems that the judges (OK, two of the three, Coulsdon was for acquittal but was persuaded to fall in line with a compromise split verdict) couldn't face the prospect of no convictions coming out of a multi-million pound investigation, eight years of sanctions against Libya, the entire world having been told that these guys did it no question, and a multi-million pound three-ring circus of a trial. So they convicted Megrahi in a judgement which is the most outrageous example of circular reasoning it has ever been my misfortune to read.

This conviction is finally starting to unravel despite the best efforts of the Scottish Crown Office to prop it up. So what then? Whether we'll get a new investigation of the actual crime, that is the loading of a suitcase containing a bomb into the baggage container at Heathrow in the late afternoon, I really don't know. It's been nearly 30 years. But at this point in my opinion the smart money is on the Palestinian gang who were the original suspects.

They were cooking up a plan to do to an aircraft almost exactly what happened to PA103. PA103 happened. If it wasn't the Palestinians, then we have one gang we know about who were making a plan to do this, but that plan didn't come to fruition, but some other gang we know nothing about just happened to succeed in doing that very thing a short time later. I mean, go figure.

The strength of the evidence linking the Palestinian gang (the leader was one Ahmed Jibril and his main henchman was Hafez Dalkamoni, while I think the bomb may actually have been planted by someone going by the pseudonym of Abu Elias) with the Iranian government has not been tested in court and some of the most damning assertions have been questioned by various commentators. However it was pretty much accepted fact in 1989.

So yes, I think this interpretation of the Lockerbie disaster is the most likely one, unless something very unexpected is uncovered in a new investigation.
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Old 14th May 2018, 05:31 PM   #7
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By the way, that's the simple non-conspiracy-theory version. If you want the full-dress Tam Dalyell "Faustian pact" story, well maybe another day.
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Old 14th May 2018, 08:36 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by ddt View Post
According to an Al Jazeera documentary from 2014, there is.

This has nothing to do with the current GOP sentiment. In fact, Iran was the main suspect from the get-go, acting through the PFLP-GC. Then political circumstances changed and it was more convenient to blame Libya, and a tall tale was constructed that two Libyan agents had smuggled the suitcase with bomb aboard an airliner in Malta, which subsequently was carried over to another airliner in Frankfurt and carried over again to its final destination plane at Heathrow. I'll leave the floor to Rolfe to explain that the suitcase was smuggled aboard at Heathrow.
Yeah, and the Mebo PCB was a clever fake to throw everyone off the trail and point the finger at the Libyans. I think I'll pass ...
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Old 14th May 2018, 10:39 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
By the way, that's the simple non-conspiracy-theory version. If you want the full-dress Tam Dalyell "Faustian pact" story, well maybe another day.
Thanks for your input Rolfe.

I became semi-convinced of Iran's involvement from hearsay of course, and not nearly with the rigor you put into vindicating al-Megrahi, but we have the words of a former president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in fact the first one after the Revolution, plus an Iranian intelligence defector and an ex-CIA guy. Make of it what you will

Originally Posted by The Don View Post
Why ? Just because it fits with the current sentiment in the GOP where demonising Iran is back at the top of the agenda ?
No.

Originally Posted by The Don View Post
Is there any evidence to connect PanAm 103 to Iran ?
Not that I know of, though you might want to read Rolfe's post above. I also mention some very important people who strongly believe it.

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Old 15th May 2018, 01:41 AM   #10
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I think it is reasonable to suspect that Iran may have had involvement in bombing Pan Am 103. It may have been an act of more spontaneous solidarity than directed by the Iranian government, short of a death bed confession I think this will remain an area of speculation.

I do think the US made an error in failing to punish anyone for shooting down a civilian airliner. indeed decorating the person who gave the order. It contrasts sharply with the punishment given to those who 'crashed' their ships causing a much smaller loss of life. At the very least a trial even if found not guilty would have allowed an appearance of justice.
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Old 15th May 2018, 02:02 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Elagabalus View Post
Yeah, and the Mebo PCB was a clever fake to throw everyone off the trail and point the finger at the Libyans. I think I'll pass ...

Ah, the infamous PT/35b. Even if the bomb was introduced at Heathrow, not on Malta, thus exonerating Megrahi (and Fhimah), that fragment came from an instrument identified as Libyan so the Libyan connection remains. It's a point, but not nearly as strong a point as it once was.

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Then in late 1990, after a re-think caused by the identification of a puzzling piece of evidence, the investigators decided that their problem had been that they were looking for the wrong people. They needed to look for Libyans.

That's what I was referring to in this sentence. A small fragment of printed circuit board which was identified as being visually identical to a corner of a PCB in an electronic timer produced by MEBO, the company owned by that prize prat Edwin Bollier. Only 20 timers had ever been produced and they had all been supplied to the Libyan armed forces. That was what caused the investigators to change their minds and go after Libyans instead.

That tiny piece of fibreglass is one of two glaringly anomalous pieces of evidence in the case, which appear to point in a direction different from the rest of the body of the evidence. It's also the more difficult of the two to handwave away. The provenance appears to be very shaky, as its discovery is at the middle of a nexus of disorganised paperwork, renumbered pages and various suspicious circumstances which invite an allegation of its being a fabricated plant.

I can't prove it's a plant, and believe me I have broken my brain on this one. I can't prove it's not a plant either, of course. What has been proved, though, is that in contradiction to what the investigators believed and the prosecution claimed, it was not a part of one of the timers supplied to Libya.

The 20 instruments supplied to Libya had PCBs that were made to order by a Swiss company called Thüring. The top coating on the circuitry, colloquially referred to as "tinning", was composed of the usual 70% tin 30% lead alloy, applied evenly by an industrial manufacturing process. In contrast, the tinning on PT/35b was found to be 100% tin with no lead in it at all, and to be unevenly applied and quite thin in places, typical of the "liquid tin" method commonly used by amateur PCB makers to make one-off sample or hobby boards.

The investigators knew this in the spring of 1990 and it was one of the main features they were looking at while they were trying to trace the orgin of the board. However, once the very close visual match had been established with the MEBO instruments, the metallurgy results were disregarded. The forensic officers knew all about it, with one of them (who repeated the tests done in Glasgow in 1990 and got the same result) noting very clearly in his notes that the mystery fragment was 100% Sn while the control MEBO PCBs were 70% Sn 30% Pb. He seems to have put this discrepancy aside because the visual match was so close, thinking, well there must be some explanation, don't worry about it.

But there wasn't. When the case came to court the metallurgy results were withheld from the defence and that forensics officer stood in the dock under oath and testified that the mystery fragment was "similar in all respects" to the MEBO boards. (Some people might think this was perjury. A Police Scotland investigation looking at this - among other points - has been going on since 2014 and may report in the near future.) The defence didn't get hold of his original notes until 2008, during preparations for the second (abandoned) appeal.

I do not know what PT/35b is, who made it, where or when it was made, or for what purpose. I don't know if it fell out of the sky or was somehow retrofitted into the chain of evidence. (I would give a minor body part to know all this.) I do know it wasn't what the investigators said it was. It wasn't a part of one of the timers supplied to Libya. These all had alloy tinning. So whatever it was, it doesn't in fact implicate Libya. The link to Libya is broken.

The way the crash happened makes no sense in the context of a count-down timer of this nature, and every bit of sense in the contex of the barometric timers Khreesat was making. Irrespective of who actually bombed the plane that fragment is anomalous. It simply shouldn't be there, which is one of the reasons people keep shouting "plant!" But even if it was genuine, and really a part of the detonation mechanism of the bomb, it wasn't a Libyan-supplied instrument, and that really is the main point.
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Last edited by Rolfe; 15th May 2018 at 03:18 AM. Reason: Fix periodic table typo
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Old 15th May 2018, 02:11 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Planigale View Post
I think it is reasonable to suspect that Iran may have had involvement in bombing Pan Am 103. It may have been an act of more spontaneous solidarity than directed by the Iranian government, short of a death bed confession I think this will remain an area of speculation.

As one Lockerbie commentator said, I don't think we'll ever know exactly how this was done unless Ahmed Jibril writes his memoirs. I think Jibril is dead by now, though reports of Palestinian terrorists' deaths can be a bit difficult to verify.

I don't think the PFLP-GC re-formed a dormant aircraft bombing operation, got Khreesat out of his television repairman's job and set up that whole thing in Neuss with close on 20 operatives and safe houses and so on, just as a spontaneous unsolicited favour to Iran. Khreesat made at least five IEDs, and a whole lot more unmodified radios and so on were found in the safe house the following April. This was intended to be a big operation.

Originally Posted by Planigale View Post
I do think the US made an error in failing to punish anyone for shooting down a civilian airliner. indeed decorating the person who gave the order. It contrasts sharply with the punishment given to those who 'crashed' their ships causing a much smaller loss of life. At the very least a trial even if found not guilty would have allowed an appearance of justice.

Yes, I entirely agree. I still think that if the US had handled the aftermath of IR655 better, with a truthful acknowledgement of what had happened (rather than lying about where the ship was at the time) and sincere apologies, also generous and unstinting compensation to the relatives of the victims and heads at least appearing to roll, the Lockerbie disaster might well never have happened.
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Old 15th May 2018, 06:10 AM   #13
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Do have a look at the second of the two (unpublished) letters to the editor (of the Scotsman, which recently published an article by Kenny MacAskill saying that the Lockerbie verdict was essentially toast) reproduced in this blog post.

http://lockerbiecase.blogspot.co.uk/...-on-which.html

Here is a historical article dating back to the beginning of the Lockerbie trial in May 2000 which goes into some detail on the case for an Iran/PFLP-GC operation.

http://lockerbiecase.blogspot.co.uk/...onnection.html

In contrast here is another two-part article which questions whether the "PFLP-GC" was indeed an actual thing, and questioning whether the group arrested in Neuss was actually a part of such an organisation. This article doesn't address the question of an Iran connection. I think this is a somewhat maverick viewpoint but nevertheless worth a read.

http://lockerbiecase.blogspot.co.uk/...rt-one_23.html
http://lockerbiecase.blogspot.co.uk/...rt-two_23.html
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Old 15th May 2018, 10:44 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Planigale View Post
I do think the US made an error in failing to punish anyone for shooting down a civilian airliner. indeed decorating the person who gave the order. It contrasts sharply with the punishment given to those who 'crashed' their ships causing a much smaller loss of life. At the very least a trial even if found not guilty would have allowed an appearance of justice.
Bush Senior's "I'll never apologize for the United States, I don't care what the facts are" was just the most callous and meatheaded thing to say in that moment. It exceeds anything Trump has ever publicly said at this point.
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Old 15th May 2018, 01:35 PM   #15
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I think that line killed 270 people, including my next-door-neighbour's grandmother.
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Old 16th May 2018, 09:15 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Venom View Post
Bush Senior's "I'll never apologize for the United States, I don't care what the facts are" was just the most callous and meatheaded thing to say in that moment. It exceeds anything Trump has ever publicly said at this point.
The full quote was:

'I will never apologize for the United States — never, ever! I don't care what the facts are... I'm not an apologize-for-America kind of guy."

Statement as Vice-president, during a presidential campaign function (2 Aug 1988), commenting on the Navy warship USS Vincennes having shot down Iran Air Flight 655 in a commercial air corridor on July 3, killing 290 civilians, as quoted in "Perspectives", the quote of the week section of Newsweek (15 August 1988[1]) p. 15; also quoted in "Rally Round the Flag, Boys" by Michael Kingsley in TIME magazine (12 September 1988). Newsweek cites this phrase as said about the downing of the Iranian airliner to the group of the Republican ethnic leaders; see the citation from Bush Ethnic Coalition speech below.

https://www.c-span.org/video/?3816-1...alition-speech
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Old 16th May 2018, 09:16 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Venom View Post
Bush Senior's "I'll never apologize for the United States, I don't care what the facts are" was just the most callous and meatheaded thing to say in that moment. It exceeds anything Trump has ever publicly said at this point.
The full quote was:

'I will never apologize for the United States — never, ever! I don't care what the facts are... I'm not an apologize-for-America kind of guy."

Statement as Vice-president, during a presidential campaign function (2 Aug 1988), commenting on the Navy warship USS Vincennes having shot down Iran Air Flight 655 in a commercial air corridor on July 3, killing 290 civilians, as quoted in "Perspectives", the quote of the week section of Newsweek (15 August 1988[1]) p. 15; also quoted in "Rally Round the Flag, Boys" by Michael Kingsley in TIME magazine (12 September 1988). Newsweek cites this phrase as said about the downing of the Iranian airliner to the group of the Republican ethnic leaders; see the citation from Bush Ethnic Coalition speech below.

link: https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/George_H._W._Bush

https://www.c-span.org/video/?3816-1...alition-speech
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Old 16th May 2018, 09:10 PM   #18
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Thanks.
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