Dakota Access Pipeline owner Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) paid a private security firm to build a massive racketeering suit against green groups opposing the pipeline, three former employees confirmed to the Intercept this week.
Documents leaked to The Intercept in May reveal that ETP hired TigerSwan, which was originally founded as a State Department contractor working to "execute the war on terror," to conduct counterterrorism measures on activists, including aerial surveillance on protesters, infiltrating activist groups and developing "counter-information" campaigns.
ETP employed a law firm headed by Donald Trump's personal attorney to file a blanket lawsuit in August alleging "eco-terrorism" against Greenpeace, Earth First, and the divestment group BankTrack. The lawsuit used information specifically gathered by TigerSwan, the Intercept confirmed in its latest report.
As reported by The Intercept:
"The case was filed under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, passed in 1970 to prosecute organized crime—primarily the mob. Greenpeace says it amounts to a strategic lawsuit against public participation, or SLAPP, designed to curtail free speech through expensive, time-consuming litigation.
'It grossly distorts the law and facts at Standing Rock,' said Greenpeace general counsel Tom Wetterer. 'We'll win the lawsuit, but it's not really what this is about for ETP. What they're really trying to do is silence future protests and advocacy work against the company and other corporations.'"
The federal government is also continuing to chase down #NoDAPL protesters: the AP reported that a woman seriously injured at the protests last year is still under investigation by the FBI, who applied for a warrant to search her Facebook account.
For a deeper dive: