Fracking Companies Using ‘Psychological Warfare’ Tactics To Silence Critics?

Fracking Companies Using ‘Psychological Warfare’ Tactics To Silence Critics? by Steve Horn, via DeSmogBlog, October 11, 2012, Think Progress
Roughly a year ago today in Houston, the shale gas industry was caught red-handed discussing its use of military tactics and personnel on U.S. soil to intimidate and divide communities in order to continue its fracking bonanza. In a gathering thought to be exclusively among friends, one industry public relations professional representing Range Resources, Matt Pitzarella, said his company utilizes psychological warfare (PSYOPs) tactics on citizens living in the Marcellus Shale basin. The Marcellus is one of the epicenters of the global hydraulic fracturing boom (“fracking”).

Matt Carmichael, External Affairs Manager at Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, told attendees, “we are dealing with an insurgency,” referring to citizens concerned about the impacts of oil and gas development in their communities. He advised the PR pros in the room to use the U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Manual, along with Donald Rumsfeld’s book, as guidebooks for suppressing dissent.

A year later, we’re learning that the oil industry is taking its aggressive military-style approach global. According to a press release published by Food and Water Europe, the industry is spying on fracking critics in Poland. “Recent media reports from Poland show that heavy-handed tactics such as spying and undercover operations are being used against groups and individuals who question shale gas development,” explains the release. “Shale gas companies have sent spies to anti-fracking meetings and reported their findings to the highest levels of the Polish government and internal security services, according to reports in a Polish daily newspaper.”

An internal government report provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and conducted by shale gas investors was given to Gazeta Prawna, a Polish newspaper. The Gazeta reported that anti-fracking activists have been deemed to “breach public security and order” by the investors, serving as the motive for the spy ops. This parallels anti-fracking activists in the Marcellus Shale being labeled “insurgents” by Matt Carmichael, Manager of External Affairs for Anadarko Petroleum Corporation at the Media and Stakeholder Relations Hydraulic Fracturing Initiative conference held in Houston in October 2011.

This development is a breach of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which reads, “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.” Fracking for commercial use has yet to begin in Poland, but as the Associated Press reported in March, could begin in 2014. Voices of dissent, though, are already being squealched before the fun has even begun. “[L]ocal communities increasingly find that their concerns about the environmental and health impacts of shale gas activities are not taken seriously,” said Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food and Water Watch. “This lack of an independent, science-based assessment of risks involved in shale gas in Poland is the reason why numerous local associations there are not welcoming this industry with open arms.” [Emphasis added]

[Refer also to: Spying activities on Anti-Fracking Groups in Poland Impede Open Debate about the Risks of Shale Gas ]

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