Law enforcement groups, including the FBI, have been monitoring opponents of a natural gas infrastructure project in Oregon and circulated intelligence to an email list that includes a Republican-aligned anti-environmental PR operative, the Guardian obtained by email shows.
The Southwestern Oregon Joint Task Force (SWOJTF) and its members were monitoring opponents of the Jordan Cove Energy Project, a proposal by Canadian energy company Pembina to build the first liquefied natural gas terminal on the US West Coast, as well Along is a new 232-mile pipeline that will carry fracked natural gas to the port of Coos Bay.
The Trump administration has named Jordan Cove as one of its highest-priority infrastructure projects. Jordan Cove opponents have expressed concern about the project’s significant environmental impacts, impacts on public lands, indigenous rights and climate change.
Law enforcement agencies which reflect the increased scrutiny and monitoring received through emails, open records requests are often subject to indigenous and environmental groups, activists say.
It also comes amidst civil disobedience and an uptick in challenging direct fossil fuel infrastructure projects – particularly in the wake of the Native American-led struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016 and 2017. They also allied with each other in the suppression of such activities to reflect a nationwide trend for right-wing adherents, law enforcement agencies, and the fossil fuel industry.
An email distribution list associated with the task force included the FBI, Bureau of Land Management, Department of Justice (Doge), National Forest Service (NFS), Oregon State Police (OSP), and various Oregon municipal police and sheriffs. Departments. But some of its recipients are outside any government agency, most notably Mark Pfeifle, CEO of Political Consulting of the Record Strategies.
Pfeifle was previously a Bush administration PR consultant on national security. Recently, Pfeifle worked with law enforcement on a counter-information operation against the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters.
When contacted by telephone about the Jordan Cove project, Mr. Pfeifle stated that “I’m just nothing for you, I’m not on it,” before the conversation ends.
The circulated emails on the SWOJTF email list include activists’ social media posts, emails, and rally announcements.
The Pfeifle list appeared on a November 2018 email distribution list from the apparent keeper, Coos County Deputy Sheriff, Brian Valencia, who described recent protest action by the Southern Oregon Rising Tide, a direct action climate justice group.
“These tactics are currently being used to put their narrative into dialogue forcibly,” Valencia wrote. He said: “There has long been a call for a ‘standing rock’ action by the Klamath tribe in Klamath County.”
Don Gentry, president of the Klamath tribes, said Valencia’s specialty is false – his tribe has never made such a call. “We are working through readily available channels closed the project,” Gentry said.
In January 2019, Valencia circulated information on Facebook incident attendance to a small group of SWOJTF officials, related to an upcoming Oregon Department of State Land Hearing, to some members of the task force, despite there was “a lack of criminal alliances.”
The Coos County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) public information officer, Gabriel Fabrizio, wrote in response to email questions that the SWOJTF was established to “ensure a multi-agency approach to any contingencies.”
Fabrizio added: “As potential threats to the safety of the citizens and businesses of the county are identified, we will monitor the groups as long as necessary to determine if they will become a threat to others “Once it is determined that a group has not committed or is not likely to commit criminal activity, we stop monitoring.”
He also wrote that “Mr. Pfiefle has no connection with the Coos County Sheriff’s Office or with the SWOJTF. He was involved with the training that was presented by the National Sheriff’s Association for emergency responders in Coos County.” “
He also denied that the SWOJTF was under surveillance. “The survey implies an active gathering of data and images, and any monitoring we have conducted has been passive, just looking for information,” he said.
The records reveal the existence of other law enforcement intelligence activities related to monitoring the work of environmental groups.
In a November 2018 email to Valencia, a BLM law enforcement analyst “Forest Intelligence Group (FIG)” also noted her role in tracking activists. “I appreciate anything you find, and I am happy to share the same,” the analyst wrote.
Fabrizio said in response to questions that FIG “began its life in the mid-eighties as a timber investigators meeting … it has been sharing information about activity including criminal activity in the jungles of our regions since that time.” .The purpose of the group is to identify activities that may require resource splitting or have an impact on traditional jurisdiction lines.
In a telephone interview, a spokeswoman for the US attorney in Oregon also confirmed the existence of another body mentioned in the email: a “domestic counterterrorism working group” led by the assistant US attorney, Craig Gabriel, that in Portland “almost quarterly” “Get. He said the group was composed mostly of federal agencies, but some local law enforcement is involved.
“It’s just a discussion on any current issues in the area of domestic terrorism. It can be local issues, all the way up to international issues,” the spokesman said. He said that the protest movement would be within the scope of its discussions, even if no criminal activity had taken place.
In another email exchange, an FBI agent, Michael Frost, offered “open source and social media training” to Coos County Sheriffs, writing to Valencia that “with significant social media presence of anti-pipeline individuals, I Your office must have felt like a right place to start.”
Flyers for training have promised law enforcement officers information on tracking individuals online while minimizing their “digital footprint,” and indicates that it is organized by yet another law enforcement “task force” Will: FBI’s Joint Terrorism Operations Army in Portland (JTTF).
A spokesman for the FBI’s Portland-area office said in an email: “The FBI does not comment on what may or may not be an ongoing investigation. However, it is essential to note that the FBI is only a First Amendment-protected activity. Cannot initiate a study based on
On the training session, the spokesman said: “The FBI Portland Area Office regularly provides training to local law enforcement agencies. The training covers a wide range of law enforcement topics, including the proper and legal use of open-source materials in investigations Is included.
Fabrizio said that the training offer was not taken.
Although Coos Bay is located more than 200 miles from Portland, Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Officer Andrew Hearst is also part of the SWOJTF email list. Suna told Valencia in January 2019: “As always if we hear anything about our people heading down to their region, we will warn you asap.”
Jordan Cove opponents expressed alarm at learning about the level of investigation they are receiving from so many different law enforcement entities.
“It’s outrageous that our Oregon public agencies are working to suppress how much Southern Oregonians whose drinking water, property and communities are threatened by the project,” Sylvia Mangan, a retired public health nurse who lives on Said one of the proposed pipeline routes.
Asked why Pfeifle was involved in the distribution of intelligence on protest groups, Fabrizio wrote: “Open source information is posted on public forums and is not considered sensitive.
He said: “Anyone who may be affected by potential actions is involved in community outreach as an effort and according to the principles of community policing.”
Pfeifle first described his work with law enforcement at Standing Rock during a 2017 presentation to oil, gas and banking officials during a pipeline conference in Houston. “All we were doing was to put a marker for the protesters. And, ‘Well, if you are going to go to protest somewhere? This is going to result.’
In an email comment, the ACLU of Oregon questioned the legality of the activities revealed in the email.
Spokeswoman Sarah Armstrong stated, “Monitoring and compiling information about OregonKey’s political or social views, activities, or associations violate Oregon law.
Lauren Regan, executive director of the Oregon-based Civil Liberties Defense Center, says SWOJTF’s activities reflect a nationwide trend. “Police and corporations are working together to suppress movements against fossil fuels,” she said.
Holly Mills of Southern Oregon Rising Tide, a group regularly subject to scrutiny in records obtained by the Guardian, said: “We know that the state, police, and corporations often stop such movements by using fear as a strategy Tried and repressed dissatisfaction. We have prepared ourselves with this in mind, and we communicate on social media and over email with the impression that the police can read.