Posts Tagged ‘Huffington Post’

FOI Daily Dose: Obama’s covert Trans-Pacific Partnership agreements: ‘a very, very big deal’

When President Obama promised to create “an unprecedented level of openness in government” on his first day in office, he wasn’t lying.

Depending on your perspective and interest in open government, you might believe we’ve plummeted to an unprecedented low.

In a scathing New York Times op-ed published June 2, two members of the Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch criticized Obama for his latest secrecy scandal regarding draft agreements of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a sweeping trade agreement that threatens to override U.S. laws by rewriting large sections of non-trade policies in 24 of its 29 chapters.

Global Trade Watch director Lori Wallach and research director Ben Beachy say the agreement could affect Americans’ daily lives by setting new rules for food safety, financial markets, copyright laws, the cost of medicine and more. They call it “the most significant international commercial agreement since the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1995.”

But beyond the agreement’s sketchy provisions, Wallach and Beachy are outraged that the White House has yet to show the text to members of Congress he’s pushing to pass the legislation by October. Although the agreement has been under negotiation since 2008, the executive branch has resisted requests from members of Congress to see the text-in-progress or even attend negotiations as observers.

Wallach and Beachy accuse the president of withholding the draft agreements to accelerate its approval on Capitol Hill in an “extraordinary and rarely used procedure” that is “a huge assault on the principles and practice of democratic governance.” They said the president wants to sign the agreement before Congress votes on it, so the post-facto vote will be quick and painless —without much debate or any amendments.

But Dave Johnson, a fellow with the Campaign for America’s Future, reminds Americans that the agreements haven’t been hidden from everyone. A group of about 600 (mostly big business) trade “advisers” have seen draft texts — one reason Johnson calls it a “corporate takeover” and “a very, very big deal.”

“If it is agreed to by the Senate and signed by the president it will override American laws in many areas,” Johnson wrote in a Huffington Post blog.

Apparently someone has already leaked information to Wallach and Beachy, who say the agreement’s copyright provisions rival the harsh 2012 Stop Online Piracy Act, and its plan to relocate domestic manufacturing offshore is more expansive than the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement.

But regardless of what you think about these provisions or “free trade,” Wallach and Beachy say it’s time to blow the whistle on hidden government agreements and covert attempts to pass broad legislation.


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