The ultimate goal of private security firm TigerSwan, hired by Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), to manage the protesters at the Dakota Access Pipe Line, was to make money — apparently even if they had to cross a whole multitude of ethical lines to do so. As part of its investigation into TigerSwan’s more questionable practices, SOFREP was provided with several internal analytical documents for review.
Analytical Integrity or Lack Thereof
When putting together an analytical product, the first thing any reputable analyst does is set aside any personal bias and deal in the facts available to them. Analysts should be self-conscious about their reasoning process. They should think about how they make judgments and reach conclusions, not just about the judgments and conclusions themselves. The two crucial principles of solid research are to minimize bias and to increase precision.
TigerSwan’s analysts had no intention of doing any of the above. Their job was to frighten potential clients with tales of billionaire bogeyman and renegade Russians. As stated in SOFREP’s expose, The Problem with TigerSwan: False Flags and Agents Provocateur at Standing Rock:
Amongst TigerSwan employees, amateurish and incorrect intelligence analysis mixed with rumor to indicate that Arab terrorists and Russian gangsters were present inside the protest camps, which were in turn funded by evil shadowy billionaires who were ideologically motivated to destroy America. These were the masturbatory fantasies of former Special Operations soldiers eager to re-live their glory days and maintain relevancy in their lives after service.”
The “Billionaire’s Club”
The first product was a 42 slide PowerPoint deck entitled “The Billionaire’s Club: When you really need to understand, just follow the money.” According to a former TigerSwan employee, “the Billionaires Club was drawn up to show how well funded the protesters were despite zero evidence to support the report.” The wordy PowerPoint certainly tried. And at first glance, one might even think they succeeded by citing a 2014 U.S. Senate Report by the minority staff of the Committee on Environment and Public Works called: “How a Club of Billionaires and Their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and Obama’s EPA.”
These products were being presented to the C-Suites of huge corporations as more of a confirmation bias than a credible analytical report. And perhaps when you are trying to win over existing and prospective clients to your agenda, and justify your increased project funding requirements, that level of biased analysis is acceptable to you.
Citing an official U.S. Senate report is a good way to make otherwise generalized information seem more specific and legitimate than it is. But the report cited is meant to be partisan, showing the political left to be aligned with the environmental lobby. This hardly seems a revelation. But TigerSwan wanted to give the impression that the activities of this so-called “Billionaire’s Club” was not only secretive, but illegal and directly targeting the interests of TigerSwan’s clients.
Lifted almost verbatim from the Senate Sub Committee report, TigerSwan claimed that “an exclusive group of wealthy individuals directs the far left environmental movement” and that “the members of this elite liberal club funnel their private fortunes through private foundations to execute their personal political agendas.” To support these claims they provide 8 slides dedicated to the regulations governing charitable organizations. The implication is that these regulations have been circumvented — and for an executive with limited time and bandwidth who needs the presentation to be true in order to achieve his company’s goals, it’s easy to overwhelm with a whole lot of nothing.
The facts to support the hypothesis never materialize, instead vague statements are presented that are easily glossed over without further critical review. TigerSwan does make an attempt to present case studies and slide after slide of examples of what it calls left leaning charitable organizations — alluding to an illegal or unethical participation in lobbying on behalf of a global environmental agenda. The problem is not whether left leaning charitable organizations HAVE a global environmental agenda, but that it was presented as some conspiratorial shadowy activity. The fact is that nothing done by the organizations TigerSwan trotted out were actually beyond the law.
According the American Bar Association “There is a widespread perception that nonprofits cannot lobby, or if they do lobby, they are exploiting some kind of legal loophole. The fact is that nonprofits, even 501(c)(3) organizations, which are the most restricted type of nonprofits, may legally lobby.” TigerSwan conveniently left out that part.
Rules for Radicals
A former TigerSwan employee told SOFREP that the Billionaire’s Club presentation “was followed up with the Rules for Radicals to justify why protests like standing rock would become the new normal. TigerSwan actually pitched the basis of this presentation to companies as a way to justify them hiring TigerSwan on to future projects like Mariner East 2, Atlantic Coast, and Trans Canada’s Keystone pipeline.”
If the term Rules for Radicals sounds familiar, it should. It is the title of a book — revered by progressive activists and reviled by political conservatives; written by infamous community organizer, Saul Alinsky. TigerSwan titled their second marketing deck the same as Alinsky in order to raise the ire of their more conservative clients, again hoping that no one had time to pick apart their thesis. This time they presented 28 slides of what amounted to nothing more than lists of activists groups and their training guides for non violent direct action.
Without being in the room when it was briefed, it is difficult to determine what inflection might have been used as persuasion for their argument, but on its face it reads like a pretty rudimentary high school book report.
Perhaps hoping to pander to people’s baser instincts of fear and invoke the specter of terrorism, slide eleven is simply one titled International Islamic Associations with only a few photographs and zero context or connection to the previous or subsequent slides.
TigerSwan closes their presentation with the following recommendations :
- The advancement of the Global Climate Change movement as a result of anti-DAPL media narrative and exploitation is evident.
- Climate Change Leaders have co-opted the DAPL situation to promote and further their anti-industry agendas. This situation should not be under estimated.
- The Oil and Gas Industry should consider a paradigm shift to active promotion of the inherent necessity of continued natural resource development.
- A proactive security management plan in conjunction with a positive media campaign can establish a foundation for counteracting any disruptive protest activity.
- Climate Change Activist Organizations are not going away, they will continue to focus and expand their efforts to demonize and negatively disrupt the Oil and Gas Industry.
Shorter: Hire us and we will make sure these dirty hippies don’t succeed. Given the extreme lengths we now know TigerSwan went to in order to instigate the violence during the DAPL protests, these unvetted and amateurish propaganda pieces now seem like appropriate complements to their overarching strategy. Clearly, someone bought it.
*SOFREP attempted to reach TigerSwan for comment, but received no response by publication.
**Update: A company spokesperson contacted SOFREP after publication stating, “These files were never used as marketing materials. Continued efforts to parrot the false claims of your sources that stole these internal documents shows the lack of journalistic standards your blog possesses.”