Surveillance-Industrial Complex Unmasked in Leaked DAPL Documents

To the water protectors who tried to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), the fact that law enforcement and security firms coordinated efforts to undermine the camps is old news. For those less familiar, the news site The Intercept is providing new details on the behind-the-scenes surveillance and public relations operations by the government and private security.

The Intercept received leaked documents from a contractor who worked with TigerSwan, a private security firm hired by Energy Transfer Partners to coordinate DAPL security. The Intercept just published its second story in a three-part series.

TigerSwan is largely made up of special operations military veterans, (which tells you a lot about the approach Energy Transfer Partners wanted to take in the conflict). TigerSwan “was formed during the war in Iraq and incorporated its counterinsurgency tactics into its effort to suppress an indigenous-led movement centered around protection of water,” The Interept story said.

The story raises serious questions about law enforcement’s impartiality and the “Surveillance-Industrial Complex.” Continue reading


Leaked Documents: Private Security Used Anti-Terrorist Tactics Against Peaceful Water Protectors

Sign at Water Protectors Camp (2016) sending message to those conducting surveillance.

Leaked documents paint a disturbing picture about how a private security firm used anti-terrorism tactics against the water protectors who opposed the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), according to a story in the news site “The Intercept.”

The private firm coordinated with local, state, and federal law enforcement to undermine the protest, the story said. “The documents also provide extensive evidence of aerial surveillance and radio eavesdropping, as well as infiltration of camps and activist circles.”

This news comes as DAPL is now fully operational, Standing Rock Chairman David Archambeau is found not guilty of protest-related crimes, and complaints are being investigated against Energy Transfer Partners for failing to follow the rules during DAPL’s construction.

The Monday report from The Intercept — Leaked Documents Reveal Counterterrorism Tactics Used at Standing Rock to “Defeat Pipeline Insurgencies” — is stunning. Here’s how it starts:

A shadowy international mercenary and security firm known as TigerSwan targeted the movement opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline with military-style counterterrorism measures, collaborating closely with police in at least five states, according to internal documents obtained by The Intercept. The documents provide the first detailed picture of how TigerSwan, which originated as a U.S. military and State Department contractor helping to execute the global war on terror, worked at the behest of its client Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline, to respond to the indigenous-led movement that sought to stop the project.

Internal TigerSwan communications describe the [water protectors’] movement as “an ideologically driven insurgency with a strong religious component” and compare the anti-pipeline water protectors to jihadist fighters.

The article is based on more than 100 internal documents leaked by a TigerSwan contractor, as well as more than  1,000 documents obtained through public records requests, the story said. Documents obtained “also suggest that TigerSwan attempted a counterinformation campaign by creating and distributing content critical of the protests on social media.”

Click here for the full story. For another take, check out this story in Consumer Affairs.

For more DAPL updates, keep reading.

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Weekend Reading: The True Story of Pocahontas; Federal Bill Introduced on Native Children’s Trauma; Tribes Backing Gorsuch; and More

Here is this week’s offerings:

  • The ugly truth about the Pocahontas story.
  • U.S. Sen. Al Franken joins two other Midwest Senators to author a bill to heal the trauma suffered by Native children.
  • Tribes are supporting Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee for U.S. Supreme Court, because he has shown he understands Indian law.
  • Star Tribune oil pipeline story misses key local angle.

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MPR Misses the Boat on DAPL Divestment Story

Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) ran a piece today headlined: Protest appeared to misstate U.S. Bank’s role in Dakota Access pipeline.

At best, the story makes a technical point. At worst, the headline casts DAPL opponents in an unfair light, claiming they are “misstating” the facts — that is, misrepresenting them or even lying. The story certainly misses the larger political picture. Continue reading

AFSC Report on Standing Rock; More DAPL Updates; and One Reservation’s Efforts to Stop the Mexican Border Wall

In this post, we:

  • Summarize the American Friends Service Committee’s report: “We Are Our Own Medicine: An AFS Special Report From the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Land and Unceded Territory.”
  • Let you know about the “Black Snake Resistance March” on Jan. 20, and where to buy t-shirts and posters that are a fundraiser to support youth at Standing Rock.
  • Link to a Bismarck Tribune updating DAPL’s current court case.
  • Share news that an Arizona tribe says it will not allow the proposed U.S.-Mexican border wall on its lands.

For details, keep reading!

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Reenacting an Indian Hanging and the Need for Dialogue; Another Pipeline Action Follows Standing Rock’s Model

It is not surprising that a historical reenactment of a Native man’s public hanging would spark outrage, what is surprising is that those organizing the event wouldn’t see it coming and ask for a dialogue with Native peoples before moving ahead.

This incident comes from Pennsylvania, but it raises larger questions of who gets to say what is offensive and what is not.

In this case, where white people might see a benign history lesson, Native people can see and experience trauma. The reenactment sent a message that Native people are “less than” and gave permission to yell racial slurs.

This incident echoes the debate we have had here in Minnesota about whether or not to remove offensive art in the Capitol. In both cases, the challenge is the same: How do those people in the majority put down their defenses, open their hearts, and listen to and honor the pain suffered by those with little power or voice?

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DAPL, Standing Rock are Becoming National Metaphor and Model

p1010103Standing Rock is becoming a national model for opposing oil pipelines. Read a story about a oil pipeline controversy in other parts of the country and it will reference DAPL or Standing Rock.

For example, here is a Jan. 4 story from Folio Weekly, a Florida-based magazine, with the headline: Florida’s Own STANDING ROCK. It concerns the Sabal Trail Transmission, a gas pipeline that crosses Alabama, Georgia and Florida. According to the story:

The $3.2 billion project crosses 13 counties in Florida and more than 700 bodies of water, including the Withlacoochee, Suwannee, and Santa Fe rivers. The EPA approved the project despite its concerns about the pipeline’s path through 177 acres of conservation areas, including the Green Swamp and Rainbow Springs in Florida. …

Similar to Standing Rock, people in Florida worry about the potential leaks and their impact on drinking water. Pipeline opponents have adopted the Standing Rock term “water protectors” and created a Water Is Life Camp near the Santa Fe River.

Wisconsin’s Chippewa Tribe also is fighting a pipeline battle, according to a Jan. 6 MPR story:

The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa’s tribal council voted Wednesday to refuse to renew several easement rights of way for Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline that expired in 2013….

The Bad River Band’s decision comes amid an ongoing protest over the Dakota Access Pipeline in which the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribes have argued the project threatens drinking water and tribal cultural sites.

Click on the story for details.

More updates on DAPL and environmental justice issues follow. Continue reading