Watchdog groups, Sen. Warren join demand for transparency...
By Ernest A. Canning on 7/1/2013, 8:01am PT  

"The TPP is nicknamed 'NAFTA on steroids.'", Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) wrote in a recent email to supporters, explaining what he saw after being allowed to review some of the text of the new, extremely broad, and very classified trade agreement being hammered out behind close doors. "Now that I've read it, I can see why," he added.

His email suggests just how far down the secrecy rabbit hole our nation has traveled, not just in our massive classified surveillance state, parts of which are presently being revealed by former NSA contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden, but even in our so-called "free trade agreements" being negotiated, supposedly, on our behalf.

As Grayson warned after reviewing part of the new agreement last month: "There is no national security purpose in keeping this text secret...This agreement hands the sovereignty of our country over to corporate interests"...

Last month, in "Please Don't Notice the Global Corporate Coup", we discussed how the Obama Administration has quietly sought "fast track authority" to secretly negotiate and ram through Congress the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) --- a NAFTA-like "free trade" agreement that not only reportedly threatens our national sovereignty, but aspires to supplant the sovereignty of all participating nation-states with a privately-controlled, all encompassing, global corporate "investor state," according to leaked pieces of the agreement.

The "investor state", in this case, references the treaty's creation of arbitration tribunals which are granted the power to negate the effectiveness of laws passed by the individual nation-states that are parties to the treaty. Under the guise of so-called "free trade agreements," multinational corporations are allowed to by-pass the legislative process and democratic accountability in the nations that sign onto the TPP. The result, as we explained in our detailed coverage last month, is the undermining of Internet freedom, environmental laws and regulations, and local laws protecting the health and safety of the citizenry of all nations who participate in the trade agreement.

Grayson's email announced that, due to pressure in the form of 10,000 comments submitted in opposition to the TPP, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) "finally let a member of Congress - little ole me, Alan Grayson - actually see the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership...a large, secret trade agreement that is being negotiated with many countries in East Asia and South America."

Grayson reportedly told an audience recently that he was allowed to "see exactly one document in his office in early June with the provision that no one on his staff can be there and that he can’t take any notes and he only has a limited time in which to view the document."

In his email to supporters, he wrote:

The TPP is nicknamed "NAFTA on steroids." Now that I've read it, I can see why. I can't tell you what's in the agreement, because the U.S. Trade Representative calls it classified. But I can tell you two things about it.

1) There is no national security purpose in keeping this text secret.

2) This agreement hands the sovereignty of our country over to corporate interests.

3) What they can't afford to tell the American public is that [the rest of this sentence is classified].

(Well, I did promise to tell you only two things about it.)

Grayson may be the only member of Congress who has been privy to the agreement, but he is not the only American, outside of the Obama Administration, who has seen the TPP.

Public Citizen's Lori Wallach and Ben Beachy wrote in their recent New York Times editorial, that the terms of the TPP have not been hidden from all Americans. A "group of some 600 trade 'advisers,' dominated by representatives of big businesses…enjoy privileged access to draft texts and negotiators."

Public Citizen, a non-profit good government watchdog group describing itself as committed to "defending democracy against corporate greed," calls the TPP "a tool of the 1%" that would "offshore millions of American jobs, free the banksters from oversignt, ban Buy America policies needed to create green jobs and rebuild our economy, decrease access to medicine, flood the U.S. with unsafe food and products, and empower corporations to attack our environmental and health safeguards."

The group has recently published a petition citing Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)'s call for transparency for the TPP, after she received a response from the U.S. trade office claiming that --- as summarized by Public Citizen --- "if it were made public, it could not get the deal done".

In response, Warren said, "If transparency would lead to widespread public opposition to a trade agreement, then that trade agreement should not be the policy of the United States."

The Public Citizen petition goes on to state:

We demand the public be able to see what’s in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Negotiations have been going on for more than three years, the deal is slated to be signed in October and to date, Americans have been kept in the dark. This nearly-completed TPP agreement would change every aspect of our lives. The only information we have is from leaked texts which reveal the worst job-offshoring corporations, major global banks, agribusiness and pharmaceutical giants want this deal to be a corporate power tool with unprecedented attacks on our most basic rights and needs.

It is totally unacceptable to deny the American public access to the text of the draft of the TPP agreement. We stand united calling for the immediate release of the text.

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Ernest A. Canning has been an active member of the California state bar since 1977. Mr. Canning has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science as well as a juris doctor. He is also a Vietnam vet (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968). Follow him on Twitter: @Cann4ing.

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