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NEW: Multiple FBI informants Infiltrated Standing Rock Anti-Pipeline Camps, Court Records Reveal

A lawsuit in North Dakota shook loose some new details about the federal government’s use of informants and undercovers at the 2016 protests to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline near Standing Rock, and I’ve got a story up about it at Grist.

This information comes straight out the mouths of the FBI and other federal law enforcement officers, via depositions as well as my own interview with a former FBI agent who led the local office during Standing Rock. Read the full piece here, or read on for highlights and links to key documents — including a few not published with the piece.


-->The FBI managed 5 to 10 informants inside encampments that were used for prayer and as jumping off points to protest the pipeline. Source 1, Source 2.

-->The Bureau of Indian Affairs operated “a couple” undercover narcotics officers out of the reservation’s Prairie Knights Casino, where many water protectors rented rooms. Source.

 -->FBI agents entered the camps almost daily in plain clothes, during the first couple months of protests. They didn’t always tell the people they chatted with that they were FBI. As one of the agents told me, “If people didn't ask, I didn't tell them.”

 -->The deposition of a U.S. Marshal said that the FBI had undercover agents in the camps, but the FBI agent I spoke to said he was most likely referring to the plain-clothes agents. (The U.S. Marshal and the FBI agent disagreed about how wise it was to be sending in these agents.) Source.

-->Customs and Border Protection flew an MQ-9 Reaper drone over the protests and encampments for 281 hours over six months, costing the agency $1.5 million. Source.


Previously we only knew of one FBI informant. He started a romantic relationship with a water protector while he said he was working for the FBI. She ended up doing prison time over a gun that belonged to him. My friend and colleague Will Parrish has written about that.

Private security had its own infiltration operations, which I’ve written about.

Documents + Cutting Room Floor

There’s a lot in these documents we couldn’t fit in a short piece. For anyone who likes to get in the weeds, these documents are fascinating. In addition to the ones Grist published, I also included some bonus depositions of local law enforcement.

Deposition of FBI Supervisor Jacob O’Connell
Deposition of FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Bob Perry
Deposition of Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services Darren Cruzan
Deposition of U.S. Marshal Paul Ward
Deposition of Customs and Border Protection drone operator Douglas Walker

BONUS: Deposition of U.S. Marshal Daniel Orr
BONUS: Deposition of Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney
BONUS: Deposition of Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier
BONUS: Deposition of Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier 2
BONUS: Deposition of North Dakota Highway Patrol Commander Eric Pederson