Sunday, April 08, 2018

Tiger Swan is definitely operating in Louisiana

Last summer, the private security firm infamous for harassing and spying on DAPL protesters last year in North Dakota  was denied a license to operate in Louisiana.  But you really don't have to be very clever to get around the rules here.
Not only is TigerSwan appealing the Louisiana denial, but a deposition given to the security board suggests the firm — operated by military special operations veterans of the war on terror — may have set up a front company in order to get around the licensing mess. TigerSwan did not respond to The Intercept’s request for comment.

The same month that the board denied TigerSwan’s license application, a person named Lisa Smith rented office space in Lafayette, Louisiana. She registered her new company, LTSA, with the secretary of state’s office and submitted an application for a license with the private security board.
It's not like a private para-military security contractor has too much to worry about in Louisiana, anyway.  It's easy enough when your client already has the Governor on the payroll and that Governor is taking steps to expedite the entry of firms like yours into his state.  It helps also when the state legislature works quickly to provide a pretext for treating that client's opponents as criminals. 
House Bill 727 was introduced Monday. Louisiana law specifically prohibits trespassing at various sites known as critical infrastructure. Power plants, oil refineries, chemical plants, water treatment facilities, natural gas terminals and the like are already considered critical infrastructure. The new law would add pipelines and construction areas for critical infrastructure sites.

The bill also lays out penalties for people who damage such sites — one to 15 years in prison with a $10,000 fine or six to 20 years plus a $25,000 fine if the damage could threaten human life or disrupt site operations. Blowtorches, explosives and possibly firearms all could be used to damage pipelines, according to various sources.

Finally, it criminalizes “conspiracy” to commit trespass with up to a year behind bars. Conspiracy to commit damage would be punishable by one to 20 years and fines of up to $250,000, depending on whether the judge thinks the conspiracy would have threatened life or operations.

Major Thibault's Thought Crime against Pipelines bill passed unanimously out of committee last week and is scheduled for floor debate in the House on Thursday.   

Overall the environment for private policing of political opponents is growing richer in Louisiana, as it is elsewhere. The state Republican Party just named the owner of New Orleans Private Patrol as its new Chairman. Everyone in New Orleans knows about Sidney Torres's rising star and the outsized influence he and his PAC was able to exert on the recent municipal election.   And, of course, there is the current mayor and his fascination with cameras and "predictive policing" technology.  One thing I thought would have come up during the recent Palantir flap was Mitch's use of a private security firm to spy on monument supporters and opponents alike last year.  But somehow that's already under the rug.

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