Now, “virtually everyone” is liable to be treated like a dissident to be suppressed, ANSWER Chicago Coordinator John Beacham told Sputnik News.
The TigerSwan global security company was founded by retired Delta Force special operator James Reese in 2008. (The Washington Examiner’s Tom Rogan, by the way, wrote an op-ed last month calling for Reese’s nomination to lead the FBI.) The firm, headquartered in Apex, North Carolina, conducts operations across the globe and maintains offices in Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Nigeria, India and Japan. It consults on “vulnerability management,” collects business intelligence and carries out “stability operations” for clients worldwide, according to the firm’s website. It has also been employed in the US to spy on American protesters as though they were known terrorists. Now, it’s apparently branching out into attempting to infiltrate domestic activist groups.
After protesters began to leave the Standing Rock Sioux reservation on the border of North and South Dakota after a massive months-long protest against a pipeline that threatened native communities’ water supply and sacred sites, the company told its Dakota Access Pipeline client to "expect bifurcation into splinter groups, looking for new causes," according to reports leaked to The Intercept by one of TigerSwan’s subcontractors.
"It’s always possible someone could have been around," Beacham told Sputnik, adding that he doesn’t believe the group has been compromised despite being targeted. The ANSWER Coalition’s leadership team does not have a "vulnerable structure" easily penetrated by outside actors, he said.
The peaceful protesters at Standing Rock resembled “the archetype of a jihadist post-insurgency” that the team witnessed in the Middle East, according to a February 27 TigerSwan report.
“While many insurgents went back to their pre-war lives, many, especially the external supporters (foreign fighters), went back out into the world looking to start or join new jihadist insurgencies. Most famously this ‘bleedout’ resulted in Osama bin Laden and the rise of Al Qaeda, but the jihadist veterans of Afghanistan also ended up fighting in Bosnia, Chechnya, North Africa, and Indonesia,” the report read.
A February 19 document prepared by TigerSwan hatched the crew’s next idea: worm its way into the ANSWER Coalition’s Chicago branch.
The firm’s intelligence gathering crew “will make contact with event organizers to embed within the structure of the [anti-Trump] demonstration to develop a trusted agent status to be cultivated for future collection efforts,” the security firm’s report stated.
”It’s almost like they’re trying to cast conspiracy theories across the entire progressive movement because they’re sympathetic to the NoDAPL,” Beacham told The Intercept, referring to the hashtag used by opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
While ANSWER’s anti-Trump protests in Chicago may have included stray NoDAPL activists, Beacham believes the attempted infiltration is more about money than actually tracking pipeline protesters. There’s profit to be made by generating reports that state peaceful protesters may go rogue and incite violence that endangers business operations. Private sector executives have an obligation to minimize risks that would jeopardize investor interests. So there’s a natural fit between profit-hungry companies paranoid about the slightest interruption in normal operations and private surveillance groups like TigerSwan, whose trademarked company motto is “Solutions to Uncertainty”®.
Their solutions ultimately provide “peace of mind,” TigerSwan’s FAQ page informs. The new-age marketing appeal to a secularized nirvana isn’t novel, but it takes on a sinister tone when it involves snooping on US citizens who have done nothing more than join a protest.
The confluence of for-profit quasi-governmental outfits and their private sector partners hasn’t been lost on everyday Americans, Beacham notes. He says civic unrest can be viewed as a direct response to Washington’s policies.
“There’s growing resistance against Washington,” he continued, emphasizing that all one needs to do is observe this “broad resistance” is to look at popular backlash against police brutality at home, America’s endless wars abroad, and attempts to strip healthcare from 23 million Americans.
“People should be upset,” he said.
As for TigerSwan, “We don’t expect them to respect laws or the constitution,” Beacham said in comments to Sputnik on Wednesday, noting that these contractors have shown a tendency to operate “above the law.”
The organization, therefore, is prepared for the possibility of spies, and operations to target ANSWER have “happened in the past,” he said.