Blurring the lines between public and private law enforcement:
A North Dakota judge has refused to reopen a lawsuit that state regulators filed against a North Carolina-based private security firm accused of using heavy-handed tactics against people protesting the $3.8 billion Dakota Access oil pipeline. Judge John Grinsteiner's decision Monday ends the yearlong dispute in state district court, but doesn't resolve a disagreement over whether TigerSwan was conducting work that required a license in North Dakota.
North Dakota's Private Investigative and Security Board plans to appeal the case's dismissal to the state Supreme Court, attorney Monte Rogneby said. Should that fail, the board can still pursue tens of thousands of dollars in fines against TigerSwan through an administrative process.
Before we proceed, just a side-note: This North Dakota government regulatory board is exactly the kind of organization groups like Civitas want to abolish, because they exert control over private businesses by requiring licenses and permits and such. But in the case of Tiger Swan, they not only ignore such boards, they infiltrate and influence the operations of legitimate law enforcement agencies:
The leaked situation reports indicate that during the company’s first weeks working on the pipeline, TigerSwan operatives met with law enforcement in Iowa and North Dakota, including Sheriff Dean Danzeisen of Mercer County, North Dakota, who “agreed to sharing of information.” (In the report, TigerSwan misspells the sheriff’s name as “Denzinger.”) By September 13, the documents indicate, TigerSwan had placed a liaison inside the law enforcement “joint operation command” in North Dakota. The fusion of public and private intelligence operations targeting water protectors was underway.
One of TigerSwan’s lines of communication with law enforcement was via intelligence briefings that echo the company’s internal situation reports. The briefings obtained by The Intercept were sent by TigerSwan’s deputy security director Al Ornoski to a variety of recipients, including the Gmail account of Sheriff Danzeisen. Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier, who was regularly involved in policing the protests, also received at least one of the TigerSwan briefings.
Danzeisen did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for the Morton County Sheriff’s Department wrote in an email to The Intercept that the department “did maintain communication with TigerSwan security in order to understand when and where DAPL construction activities were taking place. This gave law enforcement situational awareness in order to monitor and respond to illegal protest activity.”
It's incredibly important that people understand the ramifications of this "evolving" role groups like Tiger Swan are enjoying in their relationships with law enforcement. They can (easily) guide those LEO's in a much more confrontational direction with citizen activists, creating dangers where none existed before. And while that 'liaison" is giving them slick intelligence briefings creating the aura of a national security crisis, other members of this mercenary outfit were engaging in a fictitious social media campaign eerily similar to what Russia deployed in the 2016 Election:
The situation reports also suggest that TigerSwan attempted a counterinformation campaign by creating and distributing content critical of the protests on social media.
Now do you get it? Law enforcement allowed itself to be guided by a group that was (at the very same time) intentionally misguiding members of the public. People who were paying the damn salaries of those same law enforcement officers. But quite possibly the worst aspect of this tainted relationship was when prosecutors were drawn into the mix, and given information provided by Tiger Swan to charge people with actual crimes:
TigerSwan also aided prosecutors in building cases against pipeline opponents. According to an October 16 document obtained via a records request, the security team’s responsibilities included collecting “information of an evidentiary level” that would ultimately “aid in prosecution” of protesters.
A leaked report dated September 14, 2016, indicates that TigerSwan met with the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation “regarding video and still photo evidence collected for prosecution.” The same document describes plans to “continue building Person of Interest (POI) folders and coordination with [law enforcement] intelligence.” TigerSwan’s situation reports also describe conversations between the company’s operatives and FBI agents on at least four occasions.
That's right, a private company not even licensed to operate in the state deciding which citizens should be targeted by law enforcement and ushered into the criminal "justice" system. It sounds like something out of a bad novel.
But here's the kicker: Not only is Tiger Swan headquartered in North Carolina, they will soon be pulling these stunts here, as well. Between the main projected path of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the "spur" of the Mountain Valley Pipeline that will snake down to Alamance County, Tiger Swan will be right on top of any protests that occur. And it's a good bet they will try to replicate their success with North Dakota law enforcement here in NC, too. And when they do, their asses (along with whatever Sheriff cooperates with them) need to be taken to court promptly.