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Apparent collusion between Clinton, UK intelligence: Ex-CIA officer

Former British spy Christopher Steele

A former American counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer of the CIA says it seems British intelligence service colluded with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s election campaign in 2016 and key elements in the US intelligence community in an attempt to prevent Donald Trump from becoming the president.

Philip Giraldi made the remarks in an exclusive interview on the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity's website while commenting on the release of the "Grassley Memo" earlier this week.

In addition to confirming key details from the earlier “Nunes Memo” on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuses, the “Grassley Memo” contained even more details on the manipulation of the 2016 presidential election.  In the memo, there is no evidence of Russian meddling; rather the document points a finger towards British intelligence.  

The “Nunes Memo” was from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes which accused the two organizations of spying on a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page.

In the “Grassley Memo”, US Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) provided details for a criminal referral for former British spy Christopher Steele, asking the Justice Department to investigate Steele for allegedly lying to the FBI about his contacts with the media.

The criminal referral states that “a friend of the Clintons” approached a State Department official during Barack Obama’s presidency with a document making claims about Clinton’s Republican rival, Trump, which the official then handed over to Steele, who was at the time a paid informant for the FBI.

Hillary Clinton (R) and Donald Trump walking off the stage after the final presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada, October 19, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

“When I read the Nunes Memo, I felt that there was a lot missing from it. I felt that there were a lot of counter arguments that the FBI and indeed the Democrats could have been making to justify the FISA request based on other evidence than the Steele dossier. And I felt that that was some major omission,” Giraldi said.

“Now the Grassley report fills those holes. It basically says, it demonstrates that the Steele dossier was the principle source of information that was used to obtain the FISA warrants and to obtain the surveillance authority,” he added.

“And this dossier was not valid. It was not checked out at the time it was used. It had a lot of material that even Comey later on described as salacious. And essentially this was used to authorize the surveillance of an American citizen under suspicion of being a Russian agent,” the analyst noted.

“And basically this dossier was not vetted. It was not checked out at the time it was used. It had a lot of material that even [then-FBI Director James] Comey later on described as salacious. And essentially this was used to authorize the surveillance of an American citizen under suspicion of being a Russian agent,” the expert said.

"So the whole thing is lot worse than it would have appeared from the Nunes Memo. And I think we are basically looking at some level of collusion within the government to damage the Trump campaign in some way or another. And that I think that the Grassley Memo essentially validates that argument," he said. 

“And also of course there is a question of Steele himself. If you read the Grassley Memo carefully, including the footnotes, it seems that Steele might well have been the double agent for the British. He might have been working to keep the British informed while manipulating what the United States was doing. It’s a hell of story,” he noted.

‘US seeks to keep up foot in the door in Syria’

On Thursday, the US-led coalition in Syria attacked pro-Syrian government forces in what it claims to be defensive strikes in the country's eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr.

“Syrian pro-regime forces initiated an unprovoked attack against well-established Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) headquarters" on February 7, said a statement released by the US Central Command early on Thursday.

The statement noted that coalition service members were accompanying the so-called SDF while they came under the attack. More than 100 Syrian troops were killed in the assault.

Commenting on this, Giraldi said, “The whole argument that it was in self-defense is, of course, ridiculous. We’re in Syria illegally. We’re sponsoring rebels against the legitimate government of Syria.”

“And in this case the Syrian army, according to the US account, was moving against these rebels, and also ISIS [Daesh], which is in the same area. And the United States considers this to be an attack against itself, and launched artillery and airstrikes, killing a 100 Syrian soldiers,” he added.  

“This is completely ridiculous. The United States has no interest whatsoever in Syria, has even less interest in removing Bashar al-Assad, and is essentially playing into the hands of a number of other parties in the region.  I would cite the Turks, I would cite the Israelis, who have their own agendas -- the Saudis of course,” the intelligence expert said.

“We are not going to gain anything out of this. In fact we are going to wind up losing just as we have in every other policy in Asia that we have been in the last 15 years,” he noted.

The US and its allies have been bombarding what they call Daesh positions inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate. 

The strikes, however, have on many occasions resulted in civilian casualties and failed to fulfill their declared aim of countering terrorism.

‘Oil is less relevant now’

When asked was this attack something to do with oil fields surrounding the area, Giraldi said the oil argument is “a lot less relevant now than it was at one point, because oil prices have dropped considerably. It’s not quite desired a commodity as it once was.”

“I think the real argument here to be made here is… that this is an excuse for the United States for keep up a foot in the door in Syria. It’s basically supporting ISIS in a funny way to make sure that it has an excuse stay in the area and to be relevant,” he stated.

“I think we are looking at that relevance, or we are looking at an attempt by the US not to be embarrassed by more than anything else. If that’s what’s happening, it’s indeed shameful,” he observed.

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