Originally published June 14 2015
Leaked TPP emails show corporations have infiltrated U.S. government at the highest levels
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) A trove of confidential emails obtained by a legal watchdog group indicates that corporations have been given special access to negotiations involving the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.
According to the group Intellectual Property Watch (IPW), there are a number of stakeholders interested in the provisions that will eventually be adopted by all countries involved in the TPP negotiations – provisions which, thus far, have been kept from Americans on instructions from President Obama.
IPW said that it obtained "hundreds of pages of confidential emails" emanating from the U.S. Trade Representative's office, and that they have provided "a rare and fascinating perspective on how policy is developed" in the USTR office.
As IPW reported on its website:
Years into the negotiation, the TPP is said to be nearing completion and is the subject of a US congressional debate over renewal of fast-track negotiating authority for the president (limiting Congress to a yes or no vote). But the TPP text has never been made available to the public of the countries negotiating it, except through periodic leaks of parts of the text, making these emails timely for the debate.
IPW obtained some 400 email documents via a Freedom of Information Act request for communications between the USTR and industry advisors. While most of the content of the emails was redacted, they nevertheless provided good insight into the negotiating processes.
There should be no secret deals in a republic
[Note: The Electronic Freedom Foundation has created a searchable database of the documents here. According to IPW, the released emails, ranging from 2010 to 2013, are being made public for the first time.]
The FOIA request is at the center of a lawsuit brought on behalf of IPW by the Yale Law School Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic. While IPW says it does not take a position on the TPP negotiations, the group has nevertheless argued that the massive secrecy surrounding those negotiations has made it too difficult for the press to meaningfully, and truthfully, report on them. Most mainstream press reports have been limited to meeting dates and what items are on the agenda, sans details.
IPW also noted that the ongoing Yale lawsuit, which thus far has resulted in the release of the (redacted) emails, also aims to make the entire TPP agreement public (which it should be in a republic, so its citizens can, through their representatives, voice their opinion).
"What is striking in the emails is not that government negotiators seek expertise and advice from leading industry figures," said IPW. "But the emails reveal a close-knit relationship between negotiators and the industry advisors that is likely unmatched by any other stakeholders."
Release the text, Mr. President
In recent days, an increasing number of lawmakers are pushing the president to publicly release details of the agreement. They include Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a GOP contender for president, who recently demanded that Obama make details of the deal public.
"It kind of boggles the mind," Paul said in an interview with Breitbart News. "Who's in charge of the administration that decides to keep a trade treaty secret? To keep it classified makes no sense at all."
He also lashed out at fellow Republicans who are ready to give Obama his fast-track authority without ever having read the text of the TPP agreement.
"To me, it's kind of you put the cart before the horse to give the permission to do something you haven't seen," Paul said. "They claim you'll get to see it, again but you'll only get an up-or-down vote with no amendments. Also, they get rid of some of the rules on — I guess it's not, you can't filibuster it either. It passes with a simple majority."
Another lawmaker, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California, is also pushing for public disclosure of the agreement.
"I write to you today to request that you delay any vote on fast-track authority for the Executive until the President has made public all text and information pertaining to the new economic union known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Commission, as well the 'Living Agreement' authority," Hunter wrote to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a fellow California Republican. "My concern is that this allows the President and the members of the union to change the agreement and its membership following adoption."
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