Radio Sputnik’s Loud and Clear spoke with Kandi Mossett of the Indigenous Environmental Network Project about Tigerswan and the shady collaboration between government and industry.
A contractor with the US State Department and the Pentagon, Tigerswan is a "shadowy international mercenary and security firm" that "targeted the movement opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline with military-style counterterrorism measures, collaborating closely with police in at least five states," according to the Intercept.
Leaked documents show that Tigerswan officials likened "water protectors" to jihadist extremists and referred to protesters as "insurgents" and their protest an "ideologically driven insurgency."
Mossett said she was warned about the surveillance, but was at a loss at how to react.
"What are we supposed to do about it? We’re students, mothers, grandmothers, elders, allies that are just saying we don’t want a pipeline to poison our water. So what do you do when your own police force, your own government, your own state collaborates with an organization like Tigerswan and makes you out to be the enemy?"
Though the mainstream media often portrayed the water protectors as aggressors who instigated violence against law enforcement, in reality police used attack dogs, pepper spray and rubber bullets against protesters, even spraying them with water cannons amid freezing temperatures.
Mossett noted the psychological toll this abuse could take.
"I think that they’re trained to have a presence not only to show you their strength and their muscle but they also want to mess with your emotions," she said. "It’s emotional warfare, they have the big lights on the hills and they kept us spotlighted all the time, even at night. There were constantly helicopters flying around over us, there was constantly an airplane flying over us."
She suggested that Tigerswan may have also been interfering with electronic devices, recalling that her cell phone would sometimes power on and off seemingly on its own.
"It makes one wonder," Mossett added, "what else in our life is spied upon? How far will the government go to protect an oil company against the citizens of its own country? It made me question why they were given so much leeway, and who is overseeing them? Who was checking into what Tigerswan was or wasn’t doing and making sure what they were doing was legal?"
Regarding US President Donald Trump clearing the way for the pipeline upon entering the White House, host Brian Becker said, "You have a situation where the president of the United States, by executive order, could overturn the earlier prohibition for the pipeline going forward based on its environmental impact and of course based on the fact the indigenous people, who the land actually belongs to, said 'no' to it."
Mossett responded, "What’s happening is there’s a war out there, and it’s evil vs. good. We are on the right side of that: we, the water protectors, are good, and I hope everyone sees that if they support Tigerswan, then they’re on the side of evil and they need to rethink what it is they’re doing."