US Oligarchs Shown Using Military Espionage Against Peaceful Protesters In Leaked Documents

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So, wait… are we letting Wall Street build its own domestic military now?

A series of leaked documents published by The Intercept reveals disturbing new details about how Energy Transfer Partners, a Wall Street-entrenched corporate conglomerate with massive political influence, hired counterterrorism mercenary firm TigerSwan to conduct military-style espionage and infiltration upon Dakota Access Pipeline protesters, as well as strategize against them in collaboration with local, state, and federal law enforcement. The documents also reveal that TigerSwan assembled a social media propaganda campaign specifically geared toward tarnishing the public image of the water protectors.

Reading through The Intercept’s report is extremely illuminating for anyone who’s been paying attention to the DAPL protests, because it offers some clear insights into how law enforcement’s interactions with the water protectors at Standing Rock could have become so trigger-happy violent and war zone-like. Mercenaries for TigerSwan, whose other assignments have included Iraq, Afghanistan and Jordan, in their communications often referred to the water protectors as “terrorists”, their demonstrations as “attacks”, and their camps as a “battlefield”. The hyper-militarized way these mercs discussed these peaceful demonstrators was so exaggerated it could have been funny (talking about the “stockpiling” of protest signs and referring to a standard commercially available drone as a “predator”) if they weren’t collaborating with, and being taken seriously by, law enforcement. These men were plainly running on the same conditioning patterns they’d formed while serving in active war zones, and they carried that language and mentality into the intelligence updates they were feeding to trusting law enforcement officials responsible for keeping the peace. If that kind of mindset were subscribed to, it’s not hard to imagine how things could have easily escalated to peaceful protesters being blasted with rubber bullets and fire hoses in below-freezing temperatures.

That alone would have been enough to create a dangerously tense policing environment, but as The Intercept also reports, the company also made “efforts to convince officers to use more punitive tactics,” egging on law enforcement to issue more citations and make more arrests, condemning lenient policies and praising tougher postures against the protesters.

Particularly interesting in the report is the way TigerSwan’s emphasis shifted over time to its “Social Engagement Plan,” which in practice became nothing other than a military-grade psy-ops campaign geared toward smearing the water protectors online and fulfilling their contractual obligation to “protect the reputation of DAPL.” So if you’ve developed a negative opinion of the DAPL protesters based on something you’ve seen online, it might be a good idea to do a little more research with this in mind.

I’m unable to embed the video here, but far down in the report is a video the Intercept’s journalists were clever enough to save before its owners deleted it from Facebook in which a TigerSwan employee is seen posing as a concerned citizen decrying the DAPL protesters. Using a pseudonym, the man condemns the “destruction” caused by protesters at Standing Rock and says they “refuse to be part of society”.

TigerSwan shared the information they obtained via surveillance and infiltration not only with local police departments, but with the Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Department of Homeland Security, and the FBI — and can I just say how intensely creepy it is that those agencies are taking an active interest in American citizens exercising their First Amendment rights? It’s chilling enough that Wall Street and big oil are able to hire actual, literal mercenaries to disrupt and undermine peaceful protests on American soil using actual, literal military tactics, but the fact that those mercenaries are then able to collaborate with the federal defense and intelligence sectors to advance their agendas is something straight out of a William Gibson dystopian cyberpunk novel.

America is barely even pretending to be anything other than a corporatist oligarchy anymore. Soon the oligarchs might not even need to pretend, and armed troops with corporate logos on their uniforms will be patrolling the streets to make sure nobody tries to hurt their profit margins. The leaked documents provide a window into the conversations of the unelected power establishment’s mercenary goon squad, and if the goons they selected for the job are already talking about environmental activists as “terrorists” and demonstrations as “attacks”, imagine how hard they’ll start stomping people down once climate chaos gets rolling and folks really start paying attention to what these people have been doing to the environment. I guarantee you the plutocrats have already discussed this possibility in depth.

Can we skip that part, please? Let’s nip this in the bud right now and turn this ship around.

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I write about the end of illusions.

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