For nearly two years, The Intercept has been fighting an expensive legal battle to obtain 60,000 pages of public documents about pipeline giant Energy Transfer and TigerSwan, the private security firm that surveilled Indigenous-led activists who were brutally attacked protesting against the Dakota Access pipeline in 2017.
The law is on our side. We’ve won key rulings at the North Dakota Supreme Court. These documents should already be public.
But Energy Transfer continues to oppose the release of all the documents, and it’s hired one of the most famously combative law firms in the country: Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP.
The firm’s founder, Marc Kasowitz, has been described as the “toughest lawyer on Wall Street,” an “uberlitigator,” and “the Donald Trump of lawyering.”
In fact, according to public reports, Kasowitz and his firm represented Trump himself for over 15 years in countless legal fights from Atlantic City to the White House. Kasowitz has also represented the tobacco industry and corporate raider Carl Icahn. He even represented Bill O’Reilly after he was fired by Fox News for sexual harassment.
Now, with the nearly unlimited resources of an oil company behind it, Kasowitz Benson Torres is fighting our pipeline lawsuit tooth and nail. We won’t stop fighting for the truth, but we have to be prepared for whatever they throw at us — and as a nonprofit news outlet, we rely on reader donations as a key source of funding for our reporters and legal team.
When members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe led protests against the 1,172-mile Dakota Access pipeline, the crackdown was ruthless.
Pipeline owner Energy Transfer hired TigerSwan, a private security firm led by a former commander of the elite Army unit Delta Force. That firm conducted aerial surveillance, monitored communications, infiltrated activist circles, and coordinated with law enforcement agencies.
We’ve sued under state open records laws to force the release of thousands of pages of documents that could shed light on TigerSwan’s activities, but Energy Transfer’s lawyers have opposed the release of all the documents.
As far as we’ve come, we know that this final phase of the legal battle won’t be cheap or easy.