Series on TigerSwan at The Intercept

Investigative news organization, The Intercept, has obtained leaked documents that show TigerSwan, a private military-style counterterrorism organization that worked at Standing Rock, is now in Pennsylvania. The four part series examines how the industry employs private "security" groups to work with local and state police, local media and state representatives to portray residents as dangerous activists in order to monitor, intimidate and harass them.

The first installment of the series, written and reported by Alleen Brown, Will Parrish and Alice Speri, was published at The Intercept on May 27, "Leaked Documents Reveal Counterterrorism Tactics Used at Standing Rock to 'Defeat Pipeline Insurgencies." 

You can follow the authors on Twitter at @AlleenBrown @willparrishca and @alicesperi

Here's an excerpt from the May 27 piece that shows how portrayal of pipeline opponents as violent insurgents--despite the aggressive, expert and well-funded tactics of the industry and its allies to seize private property and endanger communities--permits the use of escalating intimidation against pipeline opponents.

Internal TigerSwan communications describe the movement as “an ideologically driven insurgency with a strong religious component” and compare the anti-pipeline water protectors to jihadist fighters. One report, dated February 27, 2017, states that since the movement “generally followed the jihadist insurgency model while active, we can expect the individuals who fought for and supported it to follow a post-insurgency model after its collapse.” Drawing comparisons with post-Soviet Afghanistan, the report warns, “While we can expect to see the continued spread of the anti-DAPL diaspora … aggressive intelligence preparation of the battlefield and active coordination between intelligence and security elements are now a proven method of defeating pipeline insurgencies.”

The second installment, "Standing Rock Documents Expose Inner Workings of 'Surveillance-Industrial Complex," was published on June 3rd. Here's a brief excerpt on how various state and private entities worked together at Standing Rock to "control the narrative" and therefore justify and military-like action:

The emails exchanged that night highlight law enforcement efforts to control the narrative around the violent incident by spreading propaganda refuting Wilansky’s story, demonstrate the agencies’ heavy reliance on protesters’ social media feeds to monitor activities, and reveal for the first time the involvement of an FBI informant in defining the story police would promote.

"As Standing Rock Camps Cleared Out, TigerSwan Expanded Surveillance to Array of Progressive Causes," part 3, examines the expansion of TigerSwan's efforts across the country after Standing Rock:

The “anti-DAPL diaspora,” the document argued, was spreading to Iowa, New York, Florida, and Arkansas. Finding less to report in North Dakota, the company focused in February on individual opponents’ movements to other states and described surveillance of causes as varied as climate change and resistance to incoming President Donald Trump.


Part 4, "Dakota Access-Style Policing Moves to Pennsylvania's Mariner East 2 Pipeline," brings the issue close to home. Here's a clip from the 4th installment, published on June 21st, that mentions Lancaster and the challenges faced by the Gerhart family at Camp White Pines:

In Pennsylvania, as in North Dakota, public officials have also played a role increasing pressure on pipeline opponents.

On May 4, state Sen. Scott Martin hosted a closed-door forum between first responders in Lancaster County and officials from North Dakota who were involved in policing the NoDAPL movement. The next day, citing costs associated with the North Dakota protests, Martin distributed a memorandumseeking a co-sponsor for a bill he was drafting that would hold individuals “civilly liable for response costs related to a demonstration if the person is convicted for rioting,” “is a public nuisance,” or “is involved in hosting the demonstration.”

Martin represents much of Lancaster County, which is home to the Lancaster Stand, an action camp located on private property whose organizers have promised to use the grounds as a base for direct actions against the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline once construction begins.

This isn’t the first anti-protester legislation to be pushed in the state. State Sen. Mike Regan recently introduced a measure defining a new type of felon: the “critical infrastructure facility trespasser.” The label could be applied for as little as “attempt[ing] to enter a critical infrastructure facility, knowing that the person is not licensed or privileged to do so.” An individual who succeeded in entering the property with “intent” to damage or destroy equipment or even simply to impede facility operations would face up to two years in prison and a minimum $10,000 fine, as would anyone “conspiring” with others to trespass. Critical infrastructure is defined in the bill as including numerous types of oil and gas infrastructure. The bill was scheduled for a judiciary committee vote last month, which was canceled at the last minute.