The very same day President Trump announced he is pulling the United States out of the landmark 2015 climate accord, oil began flowing through the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline. Trump greenlighted the Dakota Access pipeline, along with the Keystone XL pipeline, as one of his first environmental actions in office. The pipeline had faced widespread resistance from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, hundreds of other indigenous nations from across the Americas, as well as their non-Native allies. Now a new investigation by Antonia Juhasz reveals more details about how the private military contractor TigerSwan carried out extensive military-style counterterrorism efforts targeting the indigenous-led movement. Published by the news outlets Grist and Reveal, it is headlined “Paramilitary security tracked and targeted #noDAPL activists as ‘jihadists,’ docs show.”
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AMY GOODMAN: We end today’s show by looking at more explosive revelations about the Dakota Access pipeline. On Thursday, the very same day President Trump announced he’s pulling the United States out of the landmark climate accord, oil began flowing through the $3.8 billion pipeline. Trump greenlighted the Dakota Access pipeline, along with the Keystone XL pipeline, as one of his first environmental actions in office. The pipeline had faced widespread resistance from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, hundreds of other indigenous nations from across the Americas, as well as their non-Native allies.
Now a new investigation by Antonia Juhasz reveals more details about how the private military contractor TigerSwan carried out extensive military-style counterterrorism efforts targeting the indigenous-led movement. Published by the news outlets Grist and Reveal, it’s headlined “Paramilitary security tracked and targeted #noDAPL activists as ‘jihadists,’ docs show.” It exposes how TigerSwan extensively surveilled water protectors across North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois, attempted to sow divisions between various factions of the movement and may have even illegally hacked into water protectors’ social media pages. The article also exposes how TigerSwan is linked to the now-defunct mercenary firm Blackwater and how TigerSwan’s chair, Jim Reese, a veteran of the Army’s elite Delta Force, is now being pitched to be the next FBI director.
Antonia Juhasz, lay out what you uncovered in your investigation.
ANTONIA JUHASZ: Yeah, thank you, Amy. So, about a month ago, someone had contacted Grist with documents that were daily situation reports prepared by TigerSwan, a private military government contractor that had been hired by Energy Transfer Partners to provide overall security, theoretically for just the Dakota Access pipeline, but what we learned is that it wasn’t just that, and that these were reports that were prepared by TigerSwan to be delivered each day to Energy Transfer Partners. And Grist contacted me and said, you know, “You’ve reported on this for us before,” because I reported from Standing Rock for Grist. “Can you, you know, tell us what you think?”
We spent a lot of time digging through, confirming the validity of the documents, analyzing them and interviewing people named in them, reported upon by them, reaching out to the companies about the documents, etc. And it also turned out, as you had on the show, that The Intercept had also received a very large group of similar documents, some the exact same documents, and reported upon them. We did our story just yesterday.
And, you know, this is shocking. You know, as you know, I’ve reported from Afghanistan. I’ve, you know, seen private military contractors. And TigerSwan is a company that, in fact, has a great deal of its experience particularly operating as a private military contractor in Afghanistan and also in Iraq, in war zones. It’s composed of—founded by a Delta Force retiree and composed of many combat—combat veterans. And they were hired to perform this private security function by Energy Transfer Partners. And it was a very disturbing set of revelations in reading these daily situation reports that they put out: a clearly militarized counterintelligence program established by TigerSwan to address a domestic, you know, protest situation.
And what the report showed was an intent to gather information through all sorts of means, infiltrate those who were gathered in opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline, and to try to manipulate them and to try to increase rifts between them and to try to increase tensions. And also, in the reporting that TigerSwan was doing, it was quite clear, based on those I interviewed, including lawyers that I interviewed, that also it seems that what they were trying to do was make the water protectors and those resisting the construction of the pipeline appear to be more dangerous than they were, to increase a more stringent response by law enforcement. And as was said in the title of the piece, the framework that TigerSwan used was also one that seemed to be much more geared from its experience in war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, referring to the water protectors as “jihadists” and essentially, you know, seeing this as a war zone situation and treating it that way.
AMY GOODMAN: Antonia, we have to wrap up this discussion, but I’d like to ask you to stay with us, and we’ll post the continuation of the discussion, what this means for fossil fuel industry resistance, who is the founder of TigerSwan, Jim Reese, and this question of whether he’s being considered for FBI director, and also the relationship between TigerSwan and Blackwater. We’ll discuss this and post it online at democracynow.org. Antonia Juhasz, oil and energy journalist. We will link to her piece on paramilitary security tracking and targeting #noDAPL activists as “jihadists,” at democracynow.org.
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