Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

March 31, 2022

TigerSwan spy documents at Standing Rock: What Energy Transfer doesn't want you to know

Photo copyright Ryan Vizzions, Standing Rock 2016.

TigerSwan spy documents at Standing Rock: What Energy Transfer doesn't want you to know

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

Energy Transfer was back in court on Thursday, attempting to keep secret 16,000 documents of TigerSwan at Standing Rock. The Intercept is pursuing this expensive court battle in the North Dakota Supreme Court for the release of the documents in accordance with the Open Records Act. A North Dakota District Court has already ruled are public documents.

What exactly was TigerSwan doing at Standing Rock? The owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline don't want you to know.

On Thursday, arguments were held before the North Dakota Supreme Court regarding the release of 16,000 documents that were given to the North Dakota regulatory board.

In this case, earlier, the North Dakota regulatory board ruled that TigerSwan operated in North Dakota without a license. The board required TigerSwan to turn over these documents.

Today, Energy Transfer argued that these are not public documents, but are private and confidential. Energy Transfer is seeking an injunction to keep TigerSwan's documents secret.

In court on Thursday, Energy Transfer said TigerSwan was hired to "coordinate the security."

"We were just coordinating," the attorney for TigerSwan said.

As for the documents, he said, "They weren't used in conjunction with public business." 
TigerSwan's attorney also said some of the docs refer to matters in other states.

An attorney for the State of North Dakota's Private and Investigation Security Board told the court that Energy Transfer failed to take care of this earlier.

The attorney for First Look Institute, owner of The Intercept media, has an Open Records request for the release of these documents. The Intercept's attorney told the court today that these records should be made public in accordance with the law, the Open Records Act.

These are public documents received by the government agency, he said.

Energy Transfer claims that trade secrets and critical infrastructure will be exposed if the spy documents are released. Energy Transfer argued that some of the documents should be exempt from release because these are privileged and confidential.

The court took the matter under advisement today.

What exactly did TigerSwan do at Standing Rock? What role did it play in directing militarized law enforcement?

Did TigerSwan have internal spies in the camps of Water Protectors?

What role did TigerSwan play in the resulting critical injuries to Water Protectors caused by rubber bullets, tear gas canisters, other projectiles, tear gas and other gasses?

Was TigerSwan stalking journalists?

Did misinformation provided by TigerSwan to the secret fusion center, comprised of multiple law enforcement agencies, result in excessive force by law enforcement, or in injuries or imprisonment for Water Protectors?

These 16,000 documents should be made public and will provide a window to answer these questions.

Some documents have already been leaked to The Intercept

Documents leaked to The Intercept reveal that TigerSwan's spies targeted Native American activists, Red Warrior Camp, Palestinians and the independent press.

In its series on Standing Rock, the Intercept revealed a PowerPoint where one infiltrator listed his adversaries, under the heading of “Belligerents” -- “Native American activists, anti-establishment radicals, independent press, protester intelligence cells, camp security.”

Special Forces Publication describes the operatives and infiltrators, and recklessness of security contractors, at Standing Rock

It was all about the money.

An article written by special forces military explains how TigerSwan took the contract at Standing Rock, from Energy Transfer, because so much money was being thrown at them by Energy Transfer, owner of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Silverton was the security contractor involved in the attack with dogs in September of 2016. But then, TigerSwan gained control of the money flow to security contractors, the article states.

And there were the infiltrators. "The FBI, the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and Bureau of Land Management all had infiltrators placed inside the protest camps from the beginning." Infiltrators were easy to spot when they urged violence.

John Porter's role on Nov. 20th at the bridge is described in the article. This was TigerSwan’s program manager: retired Delta Force Sergeant Major John Porter.

"Porter was known to drive his pickup truck to a position over watching the North Bridge that crossed Cannon Ball River, the body of water that separated the protesters from the ETP oil pipeline construction site. From here, he would get on the radio and mimic the calls made by the protesters themselves in the early days of the protest before they got wise to the fact that the contractors were monitoring them. 'All warriors to the bridge!” Porter would order over the radio, pretending to be a protester. 'Everyone to the bridge, all warriors to the bridge!”

Porter "would hand his contractors baseball bats and tell them to break the legs of any protester found behind the police line."

The article also reveals that Landon Steele, shown in the dog attack videos with a small white dog, was a security operative of Silverton security. Steele was living undercover in the camp and was not exposed at the time. The dog was actually a bomb-sniffing dog.

The article points out the recklessness of security contractors and the long history of murder by mercenaries. "Operators have killed CIA sources in Afghanistan time and time again," it states.

Read more:

TigerSwan received $17 million for its work for Dakota Access Pipeline



Energy Transfer LP and Dakota Access LLC appeal after the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the North Dakota Private Investigative and Security Board and First Look Institute, Inc.

Energy Transfer hired TigerSwan, LLC to provide security services. The Board filed an administrative action against TigerSwan resulting in TigerSwan producing nearly 16,000 documents to the Board. Energy Transfer asserts ownership of the documents and claims they are confidential. Energy Transfer brought the present case seeking an injunction prohibiting the Board from providing the documents in response to open records requests and compelling the Board to return the documents. The district court granted summary judgment ruling the documents were public records and the Board has an obligation to maintain them.

On appeal, Energy Transfer argues the district court erred when it categorically determined the documents were public records, the Board did not establish the documents are public records, Energy Transfer should have been given the opportunity to conduct additional discovery, and there are issue of fact that preclude summary judgment.

Docket Info

Energy Transfer LP and Dakota Access LLC, Plaintiffs and Appellants
North Dakota Private Investigative
and Security Board and Tigerswan, LLC, Defendants and Appellees
First Look Institute Inc., Intervenor and Appellee
Case Type
Appeal From
Case No. 2020-CV-02788
South Central Judicial District, Burleigh County
Cynthia Feland

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