Rep. Alan Grayson: I've Seen The Details And There Is No Reason To Keep TPP Secret

from the speak-up dept

Rep. Alan Grayson has apparently been allowed to see a copy of the latest text of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, and he's mystified about why it's being negotiated in secret. As we've noted in the past, the USTR likes to claim how "transparent" they are because (1) they "listen" to whoever wants to talk and (2) they'll show things to Congress. Neither of those things are "transparency." Listening to people is great, but transparency is about information flowing in the other direction, from the government to the public. As for showing things to Congress, we've explained how that's not really accurate. Elected officials in Congress can see the text, but they have to go to the USTR, where they can look at the document, but they're not allowed to take notes, make copies or bring any staffers (such as experts on trade or any of the issues in the document) with them.

Grayson apparently took the USTR up on that offer, and he says there's no reason that the text should be secret.
Because of this pressure, the USTR finally let a member of Congress – little ole me, Alan Grayson – actually see the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP is a large, secret trade agreement that is being negotiated with many countries in East Asia and South America.

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.)
Of course, the USTR argues -- ridiculously -- that the reason they can't share it is not because of "national security," but basically some crap about how they've never negotiated in public and somehow no agreement could be reached if negotiations were made public. But that's hogwash. Lots of other agreements, including ones on similar topics are negotiated with the various negotiating texts made public. And, considering these governments are all representing the public, the idea that they can't represent their constituencies is ridiculous.

It's good to see that more people are realizing just how problematic the nature of the TPP is today, and questioning why the documents are secret.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jun 24th, 2013 @ 4:10pm

    My question

    ... because the U.S. Trade Representative calls it classified.

    Who, exactly, gets to call things "classified?"

     

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      Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2013 @ 4:40pm

      Re: My question

      Exactly the question I wanted to ask.

      Having thought about it a bit though, I came to realize that it is Obama's dog. Anyone who wants something classified, merely brings it to the White House and lays the paper on the floor. If the dog pisses on it, it's CLASSIFIED. If the dog does a number two on it, it's SuperPenultimateScarletLetterEyesOnlyIfYouThinkAboutItTooLoudYourScrewed Callified.

       

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      PRMan, Jun 24th, 2013 @ 5:15pm

      Re: My question

      Well, then, Congressman, why don't you fire that guy and replace him with someone who will do it right?

       

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      Larry, Jun 24th, 2013 @ 5:53pm

      Re: My question

      Having significant experience with this (classification of material), it's really simple to answer.

      If you have a clearance, you can make a document and classify it. No one really will bother to call BS on it either.

      The reality is that most people do everything in their power to keep it unclassified or classified to it's lowest level possible.

      But, on a classified system, I could mark this comment as SECRET and it would be until other authority DECLASSIFIES it.

       

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    Canadian, Jun 24th, 2013 @ 4:30pm

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

    I thought that corporate interests already had sovereignty over that country. Maybe this just makes it official

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2013 @ 4:36pm

    What are the risks?

    I wonder what Rep. Alan Grayson would be risking if he took example from Ed. Snowden and published the contents of TPP?

     

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    drewf (profile), Jun 24th, 2013 @ 6:55pm

    Effective TPP opposition

    We need one of our government representatives who is allowed to see the TPP to step up to the plate and reveal its contents. What possible legal sanctions could there be for a whistleblowing elected representative? There would be a tremendous hoopla which is exactly what is needed to draw attention to it and mobilize public opinion against it.

    When someone like Rep. Grayson implies he has read the TPP but cannot tell us about it because he will get in trouble he is trying to have his cake and eat it too. He wants to appear as if he is on the public's side by tisk-tisking and wagging his finger but at the same time by not revealing its contents he is protecting the business interests that fund his campaigns,

    When is politician with some backbone going to take up this issue for the sake of the hard-working Americans who will be negatively impacted by it?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2013 @ 8:27pm

    the USTR should be renamed as the USEICR. the United States Entertainment Industries and Corporate Representatives. the reason it wont be shown to or 'negotiated' in public is because they dont want the public to see how the negotiations are completely bypassing the public and letting the industries concerned dictate what is in it and who cant do what! whenever there is something done in secret, it's because those involved are up to no good as far as everyone except themselves are concerned!

     

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    Ed C., Jun 24th, 2013 @ 9:32pm

    And, considering these governments are all representing the public, the idea that they can't represent their constituencies is ridiculous.

    That would be ridiculous. However, the idea was always about repressing the public all along. Simply persuade the representatives to keep making secret agreements that place themselves and their friends above the public and their pesky laws.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2013 @ 9:53pm

    Rep. Alan Grayson is now a terrorist.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2013 @ 2:05am

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


    It is part of the fascist agenda, and that is why it is classified.

     

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    Akari Mizunashi (profile), Jun 25th, 2013 @ 3:36am

    Rep. Alan Grayson: We, the public, have not seen the details of TPP, and see no reason to keep TPP secret.

    Learn from us. Not them.

     

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    techflaws (profile), Jun 25th, 2013 @ 3:37am

    but basically some crap about how they've never negotiated in public and somehow no agreement could be reached if negotiations were made public.

    And yet, somehow magically lobbyists get to see the drafts. Funny that.

     

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2013 @ 4:33am

    You're slipping Mike! I've seen this story like a week ago. I would've expected Techdirt to be one of the first to cover it.

     

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    bosconet (profile), Jun 25th, 2013 @ 5:29am

    If he had courage.....

    He'd read it into the Congressional Record on the floor.

     

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      That One Guy (profile), Jun 25th, 2013 @ 9:29am

      Re: If he had courage.....

      Nice idea, but that would require him to take it out of the room, something I'm fairly sure they would be less than agreeable about.

      Shows who's actually in charge of who fairly well, doesn't it?

       

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    ProudPrimate (profile), Jun 25th, 2013 @ 9:10am

    What can we do?

    Congressman Grayson welcome back! I supported your campaign, and I'm glad I did. Elizabeth Warren has recently come out publicly against this monstrosity, joining Ron Wyden and your colleague Peter DeFazio.

    Can you tell me, what can I do? I go out on the plaza wearing a three-cornered sign denouncing this thing, as I've done for years, but before, i got a lot of interest. Now this is so obscure, I get maybe 1 taker in 2 hours. I'm discouraged.

    http://www.proudprimate.com/placards/placards.htm#tpp

    What can we do as citizens to stop this? I daresay, it's the worst thing that can happen in the next year, including war, financial collapse, and epidemic.

     

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    Martin Halloran, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 3:01pm

    Trans-pacific partnership

    I am very disappointed in President Obama, who in the past I have defended at every opportunity, for even considering yet another giveaway t5o the corporate scun of this world. Has not so called "free trade' done enough damage to the true American People ie. those who actually work for a living, as opposed the parasite rich who sit on their fat asses and suck our blood)? Anything that gives more power over us to corporations is another step towarda our enslavement

     

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    democracyadvocate (profile), Dec 17th, 2013 @ 9:52am

    The TPP as a security threat

    I feel I must disagree with Rep. Alan Grayson when he gave his opinion on the TPP "trade agreement," saying:
    "1) There is no national security purpose in keeping this text secret."

    If you agree with tax-payer supported U.S. security organizations that information about 911-type bombings of buildings and infrastructure are so dangerous that facts about them must be kept secret, ...

    ... then it should be OBVIOUS that any attack that virtually destroys our Congress, state legislatures, and local assemblies, in one, swift blow, would be the greatest danger to the continued existence of our nation ever devised and that facts that might expose details would be considered as "SECRET" by some. Especially by those who would benefit from a successful attack.

    Since the secret TPP would essentially negate people's democratic participation in decision-making across our land as well as in other "partner" nations, it would with a few pen strokes destroy democratic institutions more thoroughly than if actual bombs had been used. It represents the greatest threatened attack on Democracy the world has ever known, and THUSIS indeed a Security Issue.

    In THIS case, however, the greatest threat to security is by keeping its terms secret and undebated.

     

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    J. M. Biesche, Mar 20th, 2014 @ 12:27am

    Rep. Grayson

    Rep. Alan Grayson IS a congressman with backbone. If he were to disclose the contents of this classified document, he would likely lose his position as a representative or at the very least lose access to classified documents such as this. We need this man in Congress looking after the interests of we, the people.

     

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