The Morton County Sheriff's Office hired a security firm to spy on the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters near Standing Rock, North Dakota (video below).
Jeremy Scahill, an award-winning journalist for The Intercept, told Democracy Now! on Nov. 21 that the security firm, TigerSwan, is providing intelligence to the sheriff's office.
Scahill said he discovered the link when the sheriff's department released information on its investigation of another private security firm that employed dog handlers, who released canines on peaceful protesters on behalf of the pipeline company, Energy Transfer Partners, on Sept. 3.
In that batch of documents, according to Scahill, was the revelation that TigerSwan was hired to spy on the demonstrators for the sheriff's office.
Scahill explained the back history of TigerSwan:
And this firm, TigerSwan, was founded by a Delta Force operative named James Reese and has done voluminous amounts of covert and overt work for the U.S. military in Iraq, in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world.
And you realize that you have this convergence of all that has been so wrong in the post-9/11 world, with these big environment-destroying companies, the stripping even further of indigenous rights, private security forces, the brutality against protesters, the paramilitarization of law enforcement.
Kelcy Warren, who heads Energy Transfer Partners, gave more than $100,000 to President-elect Donald Trump's campaign, and Trump has invested between $500,000 and a million dollars in the company, notes Democracy Now!
Scahill, who co-founded the Intercept with Glenn Greenwald (the journalist who broke the Edward Snowden/NSA surveillance story in 2013), gave some advice to the demonstrators:
Do not believe that your cellphones or your computers are clean and uncompromised. I guarantee you that they’re using the entire suite of surveillance devices. I know that people have been complaining that their cellphones have been down, their internet has been down.
That can be caused by surveillance weaponry targeting their devices. It could be because there are so many people using them. But my guess would be that they are using people’s devices, meaning law enforcement and private security, as geo-tracking devices.
And people should be very aware that the full CIA/NSA-developed suite of tools that now have made it into the hands of local law enforcement in this country are most certainly trained on those activists and their supporters.
The sheriff's office released some "Know the Truth" videos on YouTube on Nov. 28 as part of a taxpayer-funded PR pushback against the protesters, notes KVLY and KXJB.
The state-sponsored videos purport to set the record straight, show alleged violence by some demonstrators and present law enforcement as protective of legal protests; the comment sections for the videos have been disabled.
Democracy Now! reported that police attacked protesters "with rubber bullets, tear gas, mace canisters and water cannons in freezing temperatures" on Nov. 20.
'Know The Truth' Intro Video.
Sources: Democracy Now!, KVLY and KXJB / Photo Credit: Mirrors and Hammers Productions via Democracy Now!/YouTube