One of the private security firms under scrutiny for their personnel's use of dogs to attack water protectors at the Dakota Access pipeline protests and for operating without an appropriate license has ties to U.S. military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan and has reportedly done covert operations for the notorious mercenary firm formerly known as Blackwater.
Dakota Access, a subsidiary of the Texas-based company Energy Transfer Partners, employs several private security firms, including TigerSwan Security, which, according to the Morton County Sheriff’s Department investigation, is “in charge of the DAPL Intelligence and overall supervisor of the other security companies.”
The investigation came after a viral DemocracyNow! Report revealed that security agents guarding unauthorized construction of the hotly-disputed pipeline used pepper spray and unleashed dogs on Indigenous demonstrators — who call themselves protectors, not protesters — on Sept. 3, including a dog that had blood in its nose and mouth. A Morton County investigation found that the guards did not have the proper permits for security work in North Dakota.
Now, a report by the blog Desmog has flagged further controversy over the lead security firm, TigerSwan. According to the company’s website, the TigerSwan is headquartered in North Carolina but also has offices in Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and several Latin American cities. The firm was founded in 2007 by retired members of the U.S. army elite operations unit known as Delta Force and boasts “offices on five continents” and “response capabilities in 79 countries.”
“It is sad, but not surprising, that this firm has ties to the US interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the anti-war coalition CODEPINK told the blog DeSmog.
TigerSwan’s founder and chairman James Reese is a Delta Force veteran who also served as lead advisor for Special Operations to the CIA director in the invasion of Afghanistan, according to his bio on the company’s website.
Meanwhile, chair of TigerSwan’s advisory board is retired U.S. military Major General and Commanding General James “Spider” Marks, whose army decorations include being a member of the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame. Another board member, Charles Pittman, is a former U.S. Department of State foreign service officer who has “served in executive and director capacities for numerous oil and gas companies,” according to his bio.
Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill, author of “Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army,” TigerSwan is understood to be one of the security firms that the notorious mercenary army Blackwater used for its covert operations.