This massive cache of documents could expose the truth about Standing Rock

Records we’ve obtained in a major court victory show how private mercenaries used “counterinsurgency” tactics drawn from the war on terror to surveil and undermine protesters. But thousands of pages are still redacted or withheld.

Starting in April 2016, members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe led protests against the 1,172-mile-long Dakota Access pipeline, which threatened their land, water, and way of life.

Then came the brutal crackdown.

Protesters were attacked with dogs, tear gas, and rubber bullets. At one point, they were shot with a water cannon in freezing cold weather, sending people to be treated for hypothermia and other injuries.

The Intercept has spent years investigating the violence at Standing Rock, and after a lengthy legal battle with the pipeline’s owner, we’ve won access to a massive new cache of important documents. But analyzing these files is a major effort for our... reporting team, and we’re counting on the support of our readers to complete the job.

Meanwhile, our legal fight isn’t over yet either. The state of North Dakota still has yet to release over 9,000 pages, and in some cases, the records we’ve received have been redacted for no apparent reason. We’ve already spent over $100,000 in legal costs, and we’re still uncovering startling details about law enforcement cooperation with private mercenaries.

So we’re asking you today: Will you donate $5 to help The Intercept uncover the truth behind the violence at Standing Rock?

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The documents we’ve reviewed so far have given our team a disturbing look into the inner workings of TigerSwan, the private security firm hired by pipeline owner Energy Transfer.

Founded by an ex-Special Forces operative, these new documents show that TigerSwan marketed and executed a “counterinsurgency” strategy using tactics drawn from the war on terror. TigerSwan used social media monitoring, aerial surveillance, undercover personnel, and more to build watchlists and dossiers on Indigenous activists and environmental organizations.

The company then used its experience at Standing Rock — where protesters were beaten, attacked with dogs, and worse — to pitch itself as an industry leader on security to other fossil fuel clients.

But the state of North Dakota still hasn’t released public documents that could be crucial to our reporting.

This investigation has been one of the biggest — and most expensive — that we’ve ever taken on, raising serious questions about the power of private security armies operating in the U.S. and the ability of corporations and law enforcement agencies to undermine protest movements.

Will you make a donation and help us continue this crucial reporting today?


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