Standing Rock, North Dakota (TFC)– Millions around the world are again gawking over police brutality against water protectors. Following DAPL’s (Dakota Access Pipeline’s) corporation dishonoring Obama’s requests the to halt construction, a new wave of violence hit the protest camps. However, whereas these acts are obvious, those of contracted intelligence firms remain more insidious.
“Do not believe that your cell phones or your computers are clean and uncompromised”, said journalist Jeremy Scahill. “I guarantee you that they’re using the entire suite of surveillance devices.” Scahill was giving water protectors and fellow journalists in Standing Rock advice on Democracy Now.
“I know that people have been complaining that their cellphones have been down”, he continued, “their internet has been down. That can be caused by surveillance weaponry targeting their devices.” Scahill describes how phones and computers belonging to water protectors can be used as “geo-tracking devices.”
He speaks of scores of reports indicating sophisticated electronic surveillance of those attending the resistance. Water protectors–alongside physical police and security contractor surveillance–have described blocked Facebook access, and shadowing. This motivated millions to “check-in’ at Standing Rock via social media, attempting to confuse police surveillance.
Although Morton County has matter-of-factly denied conducting electronic surveillance, Scahill disagrees. He references “internal documents” from regarding investigations into contracted dog handlers.
Democracy Now filmed a clash between the personnel and protesters, where contractors released attack dogs. Several dogs were filmed reluctantly charging crowds of men, women, and children with blood drenched maws. Days after it went viral, an arrest warrant for Democracy Now host Amy Goodman was issued.
Goodman’s warrant was one of the first of many which racked journalists from multiple outlets. Even green party presidential candidate Jill Stein was charged for her participation in protests. Whereas Goodman’s charges were dropped, those pinned to lesser known journalists are still pending. It’s now known that the dog handlers–from Frost Kennels–lacked proper licenses.
–Down The Private Security Contractor Rabbit Hole We go–
During his visit to Democracy Now, Jeremy Scahill discussed the security firm responsible for operations in Standing Rock. “Tiger Swan”, he explains, “was actually in charge of coordinating the intelligence operations against the protesters.” According to Scahill, Morton County Sheriff documents “inadvertently revealed” Tiger Swan’s responsibility.
Tiger Swan is an interesting character in the tale. According to Earth Island, the company maintains offices in Iraq; Afghanistan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, India, Latin America, and North Carolina. The outlet cites a USASPENDING.gov analysis declaring two $7 million Afghan contracts to “monitor, assist, and advise” Afghanistan’s “nation building”.
The firm was founded by former Delta Force operative James Reese, Earth Island reports. Reese’s company bio states he once served as the “lead advisor for Special Operations to the Director of the CIA” during Iraq and Afghanistan’s invasions.
Delta Force–for those unfamiliar–is one of the most secretive clandestine US military units known. Its operatives are deployed around the world, participating in operations like kill-capture raids. Delta Force is also attached to the Joint Special Operations Command, which Scahill has also covered extensively. His documentary Dirty Wars, and book of the same title, details JSOC’s blacked out endeavors worldwide.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Tiger Swan also has oil industry connections through advisory board member Charles Pittman. According to Pittman’s company bio, he was once president of Amoco Egypt Oil Company and related subsidiaries. Jeremy Scahill also pointed out Tiger Swan’s work with the notorious Blackwater mercenary company.
Blackwater, which has been forced to rename itself several times, was deeply embedded with Iraq’s invasion. Although the company’s crimes are expansive, it broke into mainstream news after executing the Nisour Square massacre.
Contractors responsible for that killing were convicted last year, but few have been held accountable for the company’s atrocities. Similar to James Reese–and many other military contractor CEO’s–Blackwater founder Erik Prince is ex-special operations. Prince served on a SEAL team, and started Blackwater after being discharged.
–A Resistance Planting Many Seeds–
Hundreds of arrests have been made at Standing Rock, with increasing levels of violence being documented. The latest viral DAPL video shows authorities using a water cannon on protesters in freezing temperatures. The indie-outlet Unicorn Riot has also reported the use of a sound cannon, though this isn’t confirmed.
Water protectors, including the elderly, have been beaten with clubs and shot by police rubber bullets. Just hours ago, reports of a woman whose arm was destroyed by a police grenade weapon began circulating. As if that wasn’t enough, DAPL contractors have been caught attempting to infiltrate the camps and escalate tensions with police.
Further spicing things up is a “deployment” of US military veterans to Standing Rock in support of water protectors. Hundreds, in fact, are expected to bolster the numbers of anti-DAPL ground resistance. Law enforcement agencies have also refused to return to Standing Rock, including Wisconsin Sheriffs. Two officers from other departments also turned in their badges in support of water protectors.
All of this represents two polarized things. One: The culmination of a build-up in police militarization, expansion, and outsourcing of surveillance programs, and the oligarchic metamorphosis of our government. Second: It showcases the motivation, drive, and organizational capabilities of Americans who’re awake and aware.
Whereas one’s a dark looming elephant in the room, the other offers hope. It’s becoming a growing theme of the protests, which largely consist of prayer ceremonies. Millions of people are resisting DAPL in various ways, if for no other reason, other than to offer hope for the future.
Successfully protecting Standing Rock’s water supply gives them hope for their children’s lives. Defeating DAPL’s corporate dragon heads gives others, likely feeling disempowered, hope that their actions matter. Standing Rock’s resistance is blurring the lines between spiritualism, and politics. It’s a chronicle blaring America’s best, and worst, too loud for anyone to ignore.