Law Professor Questions The Absurd Secrecy Around The TPP Agreement

from the why-is-this-acceptable? dept

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by law professor David Levine for his radio show/podcast, Hearsay Culture. The episode has aired on the radio, and I believe it will go up as a podcast soon as well. However, he’s also written a fantastic article summarizing the absurdity of the secrecy around the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement:

Imagine being invited to formally offer input on a huge piece of legislation, a proposed international agreement that could cover everything from intellectual property rights on the Internet to access to medicine to investment rights in the agreement’s signatory countries. For 10 minutes, you’d be able to say whatever you’d like about the proposed law—good, bad, or indifferent—to everyone involved in the negotiations. But there’s a caveat: All of your questions, all of your input, on what may be the most controversial part of the package, would have to be based on a version of the proposed international agreement that was 16 months old. And in that 16-month period, there were eight rounds of negotiations that could have changed any and all of the text to which you had access, but no one could tell you if that version was still accurate.

Would you still take the deal? This is not a hypothetical question; rather, this is the take-it-or-leave-it offer made to the public in May by the United States Trade Representative regarding the intellectual property rights chapter of the massively important but little-known Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).

Levine is learning, first-hand, about “transparency” — USTR style, where everything is kept secret, but you’re cheerful about telling people who actually would like to help and could provide valuable feedback to come along… but then they’re never allowed to actually see the document in question.

This is a travesty. It’s certainly not democracy. It’s a joke carried out by a government department that appears to be out of control — focused mainly on helping a few industry groups with little concern about the public, despite how widely they’ll be impacted by such laws and rules.

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Comments on “Law Professor Questions The Absurd Secrecy Around The TPP Agreement”

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silverscarcat says:

Re: Re: Re:


Here’s the dictionary’s term of Treason…

1. the offense of acting to overthrow one’s government or to harm or kill its sovereign.
2. a violation of allegiance to one’s sovereign or to one’s state.
3. the betrayal of a trust or confidence; breach of faith; treachery.

Hmm… I DO believe that the USTR *IS* acting treasonous.

After all, they fit the 3rd definition perfectly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The USTR answers to the executive. I’ve heard nothing that indicates that that the USTR has betrayed that trust or confidence. In fact, the USTR receives instructions and acts upon them.

Perhaps you should keep in mind that the USTR does not report to you. Since the charge was made in a legal context, perhaps you should consider how a legal dictionary defines it:


n. the crime of betraying one’s country, defined in Article III, section 3 of the U.S. Constitution: “Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.” Treason requires overt acts and includes the giving of government security secrets to other countries, even if friendly, when the information could harm American security. Treason can include revealing to an antagonistic country secrets such as the design of a bomber being built by a private company for the Defense Department. Treason may include “espionage” (spying for a foreign power or doing damage to the operation of the government and its agencies, particularly those involved in security) but is separate and worse than “sedition,” which involves a conspiracy to upset the operation of the government.”

silverscarcat says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The USTR was created by the Legislative branch, and, if you note the third point that the dictionary brings up…

“3. the betrayal of a trust or confidence; breach of faith; treachery.”

Do remember that the U.S. government is BUILT upon the trust and confidence of the CITIZENS.

So, by the DEFINITIONS of what the U.S. Government is SUPPOSED to be, the USTR has BETRAYED the citizens AND the government of the United States by allowing only a select few (something that the founding fathers hated and one of the reasons why the U.S. split from the U.K. back in 1776) to see what’s going on, instead of the public at large.

So, by all accounts, the USTR *HAS* committed treason against the faith and trust of the citizens of the United States of America and SHOULD be tried for treason.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Because while it’s reprehensible and arguably unpatriotic, it’s not actually treason.

Sorry, this is a pet peeve of mine. people throw around the word “treason” pretty easily, but they’re usually using it wrong. In the US, treason is defined in the Constitution:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

“Giving Aid and Comfort to enemies” also means something very specific, and more than just being supportive or nice to them.

In any case, the USTR has not committed treason as defined by the Constitution.

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