Tuesday, May 19, 2015

An Insider Describes How Alarmingly Secret the Details of the Developing Trans-Pacific Trade Deal Are

This is pretty remarkable. What the hell is in this "free trade" deal that the government doesn't wan the public to see?

Michael Wessel, a "cleared" liaison to two statutory trade advisory committees and a former commissioner on the U.S. Trade Deficit Review Commission, reports:
We should be very concerned about what's hidden in this trade deal—and particularly how the Obama administration is keeping information secret even from those of us who are supposed to provide advice.
So-called “cleared advisors” like me are prohibited from sharing publicly the criticisms we’ve lodged about specific proposals and approaches. The government has created a perfect Catch 22: The law prohibits us from talking about the specifics of what we’ve seen, allowing the president to criticize us for not being specific. Instead of simply admitting that he disagrees with me—and with many other cleared advisors—about the merits of the TPP, the president instead pretends that our specific, pointed criticisms don’t exist. 
What I can tell you is that the administration is being unfair to those who are raising proper questions about the harms the TPP would do..
The text of the TPP, like all trade deals, is a closely guarded secret. That fact makes a genuine public debate impossible and should make robust debate behind closed doors all the more essential. But the ability of TPP critics like me to point out the deal’s many failings is limited by the government’s surprising and unprecedented refusal to make revisions to the language in the TPP fully available to cleared advisors...
All advisors, and any liaisons, are required to have security clearances, which entail extensive paperwork and background investigations, before they are able to review text and participate in briefings. But, despite clearances, and a statutory duty to provide advice, advisors do not have access to all the materials that a reasonable person would need to do the job. The negotiators provide us with “proposals” but those are merely initial proposals to trading partners. We are not allowed to see counter-proposals from our trading partners. Often, advisors are provided with updates indicating that the final text will balance all appropriate stakeholder interests but we frequently receive few additional details beyond that flimsy assurance...
Advisors are almost flying blind...Only portions of the text have been provided, to be read under the watchful eye of a USTR official. Access, up until recently, was provided on secure web sites. But the government-run website does not contain the most-up-to-date information for cleared advisors. To get that information, we have to travel to certain government facilities and sign in to read the materials. Even then, the administration determines what we can and cannot review and, often, they provide carefully edited summaries rather than the actual underlying text, which is critical to really understanding the consequences of the agreement.


  1. Still, it begs the question: WHY are these deals so secret?

    1. Because nobody wants to explain that they are out to fleece everybody else.

  2. The only way we'll see that info is if the people drop their partisan bickering and demand transparency within the deal-making halls of government. In other words... ain't gonna happen.

    1. no the only way that we will see it is if somebody loses out in the partisan bickering and decides to hurt the others.

  3. The Authoritarian model is going 210MPH, and we are nothing more than remnants on the windshield.