A Pipeline of Corruption

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A Pipeline of Corruption

The Intercept on May 25th released a highly concerning report about the DAPL pipeline. Through documents leaked to The Intercept from a source inside Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), they revealed that there are some pretty dark machinations going on between our government and corporate entities that go beyond the usual corrupt system of legalized bribery we call “lobbying”. Over the last year the massive protest at the proposed site of the DAPL underground tunnel beneath the Missouri river at Standing Rock has been the site of a coordinated attack against peaceful Native American protesters and thousands of citizens who had traveled to Standing Rock from all over the country. That attack was coordinated between Local Police, the FBI, and a private mercenary group hired by ETP.

Tigerswan is a paramilitary mercenary company founded by Former Delta Force officer, Col. James Reese. Think Blackwater. This company has offices all over the world, including several high interest Middle Eastern countries (several that have been on a certain ban list) and for some reason Japan. They are routinely hired by oil companies to secure drilling sites and pipelines against attacks from Middle Eastern terrorist groups. This will become far more important later in the story, but let it be clear that Tigerswan specialized in combating Jihadists in the Middle East and now they have been hired to go to Indian land in South Dakota.

Before we get into the nitty gritty of just how out of line these veterans for hire got, lets clear up the confusion about exactly where this tunnel was going, and if that land actually belonged to the tribes, or if the company had any claim to the land. The actual legality of the claim is in dispute because of a convoluted mess of laws and treaties going back more than a century. First, the route for the pipeline does not actually cross into the Standing Rock reservation. It passes within half a mile. Besides the fact that the pipeline skates by on the slimmest of technicalities, there is no legal reason for the Standing Rock reservation to be as small as it is. The Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1851 formally gave a much larger piece of land to the Standing Rock, Yankton River, and Cheyenne Sioux tribes that encompasses miles of the pipeline. That treaty has never been overturned and the current Standing Rock Reservation was shrunk without cause to its current size. Even if for some reason the tribe was unable to prove in court the validity of the Fort Laramie treaty, a bill was passed in 1966 called the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). The bill specifically protects Native artifacts and sacred sites against damage through development, and the Standing Rock Sioux have an excellent case that the entire area is sacred to them, as it was their ancestral land originally given to them in the 1851 treaty. Got all that?

All that should at least leave the impression that the Standing Rock Sioux have a solid legal claim to be able to halt the pipeline and have it rerouted away from their land. In a case this murky you would think that the gut reaction of the government to a private oil company hiring mercenaries to push native people off contested land would at least require some pause, right? Well, after months of protesting in the freezing cold, people from the reservation, and thousands of veterans from around the country helping them protest, gave evidence that the Tigerswan Security forces were sicking dogs on the protesters, firing tear gas and rubber bullets at them, and that local police were doing nothing to stop it. In fact, the local police, laughing and overweight, shot fire hoses at the protesters in sub-freezing temperatures. 

Why were the police helping Tigerswan Security? Lets review. A private company hired private mercenaries to help push a oil pipeline under a river of drinking water on contested native land. This seems like an open and shut case. The police should be facing the other direction, protecting peaceful protesters and veterans against attacks from mercenaries. What happened? This is where The Intercept leak breaks the story open. Documents reveal that the local police and the FBI were allowing Tigerswan security to surveil identified protesters, even when they were not actively protesting (meaning not even at Standing Rock), and were sharing information with the mercenary group. A police spokesperson told the Intercept the department “did maintain communication with TigerSwan security in order to understand when and where DAPL construction activities were taking place. This gave law enforcement situational awareness in order to monitor and respond to illegal protest activity.”

With police working directly for Tigerswan Security, they were free to set up a strategy for dealing with the “illegal protesters”. These same leaked documents revealed that Tigerswan internal memos referred some of the protesters as being “religious in nature” and that they were similar to Jihadists. Remember I said their training in the Middle East was important? These guys left a real war zone, were given a peaceful enemy to fight, and decided to treat them exactly the same way, despite many of those people being US military veterans themselves. They showed up to the construction site, which they referred to as the “battlefield”, and they came heavily armored and armed. 

For months these brave men, aided by police, brutalized peaceful people who were mostly praying (hence the “religious in nature” bit). Our government, both sides of the isle, were dead silent, save for one lone septuagenarian Jewish voice from Vermont. When asked about the situation at DAPL after months of outcry across the country, President Obama responded “We’re gonna let it play out for several more weeks”. So much for his pledge to defend native peoples on the campaign trail. Now Trump is fast tracking the pipeline and overruling the US Corps of Engineers decision that the pipeline should be temporarily halted so that a environmental impact report could could be conducted. 

Several news outlets have run stories on a handful of oil leaks that have already sprung from the pipeline. ABC news reported that 84 gallons of oil leaked in April alone. I admit that 84 gallons doesn’t sound significant, but keep in mind, the pipe isn’t even operational yet. This particular pipe is supposedly state of the art and “leak proof” according to an ETP official. It seems the only people who bought that line of bullshit were the people the oil companies paid off to believe it-our politicians. Trump has already managed to remove much of the regulation and oversight on the DAPL project, and it is full steam ahead, oily discharge and all. The government, especially under republican leadership, but really either way, is not inclined to help regular citizens when it comes to protecting their clean water, or cheaper medicine, or ending wars, or anything else, as long as there is money to be made from corporate interests. 

It is time to learn a term. This one is important. I’ll give the definition first: “a set of nationalist authoritarian goals of creating a regulated economic structure” (Promise of a New America). That’s another way of saying “a government and corporations colluding to oppress you”. When corporations and government team up against their own people that is the textbook definition of Fascism. If you have one issue to be concerned with, if you are anti-fascism, hell, if you actually a member of Antifa, this is the issue. This is the cause we need to be talking about. Trump and his administration are falling apart at the seams, but he is still flailing wildly at whatever he can. Regardless of who is president, the collusion between the government and their corporate masters, at least in this case, demands that we as people rise up against this ridiculously obvious example of real oppression at work.