Apparently The USTR Thinks 'Unprecedented Transparency' Means Hiding TPP Details From 98% Of Congress

from the that's-mighty-opaque-transparency dept

We just wrote about the new bill proposed by Senator Wyden after discovering that the USTR refused to share the TPP with the staff director of the Senate Finance Committee's Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs and Global Competitiveness -- who, officially, is supposed to have oversight on trade negotiations. However, the USTR (apparently with the support of the administration) has gone rogue, and is effectively hiding all the details of what it's negotiating on from Congress. While Ron Kirk likes to continually talk up how many meetings USTR has held (behind closed doors) with Congress, he conveniently ignores the fact that he is still keeping the US's negotiating position away from Congress.

Reading through the specifics of Wyden's speech, you begin to realize that the USTR and the Administration appear to have interpreted the law that creates the Congressional Oversight Group (COG) to mean that the USTR no longer has to share information with anyone in Congress (as it has claimed in the past), but that it only has to share TPP negotiating documents with the members of Congress who are on the Congressional Oversight Group. That's around 12 members. Out of 535 members of Congress between Senators and Representatives (in the House). In other words, despite the fact that Congress has clear oversight concerning international trade negotiations, and despite the fact that the Congressional Oversight Group was set up specifically to increase oversight of the USTR, the administration has decided that it really means it can keep its negotiating position from about 98% of Congress.

This is part of why Wyden seems so reasonably concerned. The USTR is taking the creation of COG, and basically flipping it on its head. The whole purpose of COG was to increase transparency. And yet, the USTR continues to effectively ignore it, while pretending that it only has to share TPP info with a tiny fraction of Congress, leaving the rest in the dark until it's too late. That's insane. How is the Senate supposed to have oversight if the USTR's own interpretation of the law means that it can effectively reject any effort to oversee it? It's incredible that the USTR seems to be claiming significant powers that it simply does not have -- and even more obnoxious and intellectually dishonest for it to then claim that it's offering "unprecedented transparency."

I'm sure that the USTR is holding the meetings with Congress that it claims, but until Ron Kirk learns that transparency means revealing what you're doing, not just listening to what others say, the USTR is not being even the slightest bit "transparent." Instead, it's abusing the process at the expense of the American public.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    btr1701 (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 1:19pm

    Well...

    Technically it's true. This *is* unprecedented transparency. Just not in the way most people assume.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Yanni Du L'etelle, May 24th, 2012 @ 1:37pm

    A simple solution would be mass revolution followed by mass executions of the Anonymous Wealthy Fascists (with asshole Kirk at the front of the guillotine line).

    When will Americans wake up and realize that the Anonymous Wealthy Fascists took over their country ages ago and the people have zero say. You're all slaves to the Anonymous Wealthy Fascists.

    Americans whine and bitch and moan and thump their chests (and rightly so) about Russia's fake elections, but their own country has been running fake elections for decades. America has really been run by the same Anonymous Wealthy Fascists for decades, no matter who the clown is that wins their fake elections.

    Once (and hopefully not "if") the American masses wake up, they're going to feel awfully damned stupid.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    gorehound (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 1:42pm

    Re:

    And they will also be strung up !!!
    And I will break down and drink a toast when I see it as I Hate This Government and all it stands for in present times.
    Washington is now a Cancer on this Nation and one day in the next 5 - 15 years they will get a very rude awakening.

     

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  4.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 1:43pm

    Re: Replay?

    Peasant uprising, guillotine, death to the nobility.

    My only wonder is "when" not "if".

     

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  5.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 1:50pm

    Re:

    You guys crack me up if you actually think this will happen. They know exactly how to deal with us if we get irate, and it ain't pretty. The rich and powerful haven't done anything yet that the average person would risk their lives to change.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 1:51pm

    seems like no one is as important as Ron Kirk, no one is being as dishonest as Ron Kirk and no has less respect for Congress or the American people than Ron Kirk. however, if you are a representative of MPAA, RIAA, PHARMA etc, you can get whatever information you want and have as much input as you want. i am curious as to how much information the representatives from the other countries involved are getting and being allowed to input. TPP is supposed to be of great benefit to the US economy, to jobs and to innovation but if the US Congress are not allowed to see what those benefits are how can it be that good? therefore how can it be of benefit to anyone outside the US?

     

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  7.  
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    Ophelia Millais (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 1:57pm

    OK, so, what are we supposed to do about it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 2:00pm

    Re: The plan!

    Eureka!

    We'll develop a cancer which only infects wealthy oligarchs...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 2:03pm

    Be warned. The revolution is coming and it won't be pretty.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Alana (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 2:08pm

    You know. We don't need transparency to know this bill is a bad idea.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 2:08pm

    Re:

    Be warned. The revolution is coming and it won't be pretty.
    But it WILL be uploaded to Youtube...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Lord Binky, May 24th, 2012 @ 2:28pm

    Their consultant about transparency was a magician skilled in the arts of smoke and mirrors.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 2:34pm

    Democracy without transparency is pointless

    How can you do employee reviews if your employees don't have to tell you what they've been doing?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 2:35pm

    Re: Well...

    It is unprecedented transparency, through a one-way mirror.

     

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  15.  
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    Josef Anvil (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 2:43pm

    The missing link

    Ok now I'm officially confused. There are 12 members of the COG... and just why can't Senator Wyden (or any other senator) get what he wants from them?

    Are the TPP negotiations classified as Top Secret???

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 2:43pm

    Ron Kirk's underwear gnomes plan:

    Step 1: Bundle lots of contributions from IP trolls.
    Step 2: Be appointed trade ambassador.
    Step 3: Profit!

    No need for ???. Corrupt politicians don't like ???.

     

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  17.  
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    A Guy (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 2:43pm

    The unprecedented part is the fact that what they are negotiating keeps getting discussed in real time on the internet instead of it being spoon fed through favored media outlets.

    It's probably an unprecedented pain in the ass for them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 2:46pm

    Re: Re:

    All things come to pass...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 2:56pm

    Re: The missing link

    I don't know the classification, but the negotiations do have a security classification. The members of the COG are prohibited from revealing the information they're privy to.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Seegras (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 2:58pm

    What I do not understand...

    Why are these bureaucrats at the USTR not immediately arrested on grounds of corruption, neglect of duty, maybe even treason?

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    M-D, May 24th, 2012 @ 3:10pm

    Re: The missing link

    I was going to ask this question also. If there are twelve members who are receiving information about TPP negotiations and are not sharing it then is there a possible way for Wyden, my hero in congress, to change up the seating for that panel.

     

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  22.  
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    Joe Burton, May 24th, 2012 @ 3:26pm

    If there is as much unprecedented transparency as Mr. Kirk seems to feel... I challenge him to send me a copy of the TPP and let me read it. Until then, I will continue to believe that they are hiding things from me and not working in my best interest.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 3:32pm

    Re: Well...

    It's certainly an unprecedented definition of transparency, much like the bush administration had an unprecedented definition of torture.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 3:33pm

    Re: Re:

    of course, it's not like the politicians in washington are elected or anything.

    Oh wait...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 3:34pm

    Re: Re: Well...

    ... and mission accomplished

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    harbingerofdoom (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 3:37pm

    Re: Re: Well...

    neither of you have any clue what you are talking about...
    of course its unprecedented levels of transparency!

    2% of congress? thats WAY MORE than they ever wanted to keep in the loop.. and that means real progress there!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Glen, May 24th, 2012 @ 3:40pm

    Re: Re:

    Only to be taken back down by NBC or someone.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    bill, May 24th, 2012 @ 4:39pm

    ONLY 98% wow!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 4:58pm

    Re: Re:

    Immediately followed by a take down notice from the feds

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 4:58pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    It's funny because it's true.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 5:05pm

    The only answer to all of this, short of revolution, is for the internet money to by back all the Politicians currently owned by Hollywood and then buy a fleet of lobbyist to go with them.
    Problem fixed...Sanity restored.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Peter, May 24th, 2012 @ 5:14pm

    98%... nice...

    (insert huge epic sarcasm look followed with a facepalm here)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Digitari, May 25th, 2012 @ 12:13am

    Re:

    the problem with this Idea is that tech company's want to keep the money they have, not waste it on congress

    the other flaw is that we (the people) think we "employ" the government, we don't, the "big money" do {hence the big money}

    until fiance reform has been overhauled nothing will change, if it cannot be executed, it aint a person. Corporations can die, but they cannot be executed, therefore they will never be (or SHOULD be) "persons"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
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    The eejit (profile), May 25th, 2012 @ 12:25am

    Re:

    So they got David Copperfield in, then?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), May 25th, 2012 @ 7:41am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Great! In the meantime, I'll work on trying to elect more politicians like Wyden.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    icon
    Tim K (profile), May 25th, 2012 @ 8:17am

    Re: The missing link

    It's classified, but Wyden had his staff get the necessary clearances, so classification shouldn't even be an issue

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Jonathan, May 25th, 2012 @ 9:00am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You get to choose from two roughly equivalent figureheads who have been appointed to the candidacy based on their allegiance to Anonymous Wealthy Fascists.

    While technically this is an election, so is American Idol.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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