USTR Finally Realizing Its All Encompassing Secrecy May Be A Problem, Calls Frantic Meeting For All 'Cleared' Lobbyists

from the you're-doing-it-wrong dept

It’s been funny for years watching the USTR continue to repeat the same laughable line about how they’ve had “unprecedented transparency” concerning the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement — an agreement that is still completely secret, other than a couple chapters leaked to Wikileaks. Here’s a hint: if the text of the agreement is only available thanks to Wikileaks, you’re not being transparent, precedented or not. Even the NY Times slammed the USTR’s lack of transparency, and multiple members of Congress have been arguing that they’re not at all comfortable with the lack of transparency from the USTR. Because of this, it seems that the USTR’s desire for fast track authority, which would let it route around Congressional review, is on life support and close to dead.

Given that, it appears that the USTR is in panic mode, and has frantically called an all day meeting for all “cleared advisors” (i.e., the corporate representatives who actually do get to see the document) concerning the whole transparency issue.

In an apparent effort to defuse mounting criticism that the Obama administration is being too secretive about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on short notice has called an all-day briefing for all cleared advisers on Feb. 11, according to sources familiar with a memo sent by USTR announcing the meeting.

The only way they’re going to defuse such criticism is to actually be transparent instead of secretive. Anyone taking bets on the likelihood of that happening?

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Comments on “USTR Finally Realizing Its All Encompassing Secrecy May Be A Problem, Calls Frantic Meeting For All 'Cleared' Lobbyists”

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Anonymous Coward says:

What that meeting is all about...

USTR: “Ok I called you altogether because of this little PR problem we are having with people complaining because we aren’t telling them anything about what we are trying to do. So I have come to the realization that since not telling them is not working, and pretending we are telling them when we really aren’t isn’t working either, we are going to have to tell them. However, since you so many of you are professional media guys, I’m going to need your help. I need you guys to help come up with a way to spin all of this such that the public buys it when we tell them. That is why we are here. Any suggestions?”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Actually since USTR is economically funded by private parties, it is the way to start a transition.

When that is said, fast-track on anything negotiated by, and for, very heavily biased parties is taking democracy out of the process. Governments around the world have a tendency to do things they know people would be against, but since they can see numbers supporting their choice the “helping the ignorant fools” mentality can easily come about. As has been argued before by some people “it is a package and just because a couple of issues exists, it is no grounds for rejection” (that is an extremely reckless stance to take if there are real issues and quite undemocratic if you think about it!)… Letting private companies control a negotiation and only governments approve trade deals is an unfortunate arrangement by these specific measures. The political influence balance on the issue is waaaaaay off.

kenichi tanaka (profile) says:

I think Mike Masnick was mislead by the very article he was writing. The final sentence in his article reads “The only way they’re going to defuse such criticism is to actually be transparent instead of secretive.”

Uh, the headline of the article he wrote, “cleared” lobbyists is just another description of “secrecy” and “closed-door” discussions.

That’s the opposite of transparency. lols

Anonymous Coward says:

strange they should chose Feb 11th. isn’t that the day of the big public push back against the spying, the data collection and TPP! let’s hope the push back is as successful as it needs to be.
out of curiosity, it appears from the post that members of Congress are not allowed to ‘the all day meeting’, even though they were expected to approve ‘fast track’ for TPP! that must mean those ‘lobbyists’ are more trustworthy than senators and less costly to ‘encourage’!!

kenichi tanaka (profile) says:

But that’s the point his articles makes. He makes it sound like the USTR is trying to be transparent when they never have been and probably never will.

Government loves its secrets and it loves to keep the taxpayers in the dark, claiming it’s for “our” benefit. It’s funny how “our” benefit always resorts to our government, taking our money, to fund their programs by which we aren’t allowed to be informed about.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Did we read the same article?

From how I took it, he’s not saying they’re trying to be transparent at all, rather the article merely says that they’re scrambling around in a panic because they seem to be realizing just how bad the backlash over their secrecy really is.

Heck, the last two sentences, ‘The only way they’re going to defuse such criticism is to actually be transparent instead of secretive. Anyone taking bets on the likelihood of that happening?’ seems to be pretty clear that while transparency is what they should be striving for, he, and I imagine pretty much everyone else familiar with the issue, doesn’t see that happening any time soon.

anon says:

Re: Re:

I can see a case in court…

“Your honor there is a law but we are not allowed to tell you what it is and we are not allowed to tell the defendant what they did wrong as this will break the privacy agreements we have in place, please trust us and find the defendant guilty and order him to stop any and all activities so that he does not break the law he is not allowed to know about.” and then ” ruling that the defendant is under house arrest for the rest of his life and has no access to the internet will protect our interests and prevent any breaking of the law that the defendant and you are not allowed to know about.”

Seriously…. any member of congress that signs a law into place that they do not know about should be charged with corruption.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re:

well, i’ll just point out, all pendantic-like, that if you don’t have transparency, you can’t have accountability…
in fact, it is a necessary requirement for accountability…
that we ‘know’ some portion of the TPP (etc) is ONLY due to the efforts of whistleblowers or heroic crackers, not due to a REAL open and transparent process…
and, yeah, fuck beta…
(signed up for alt already, but who knows how that will turn out, dice go all trademark on ’em)

GEMont (profile) says:

The Old Switcheroo...

I wonder what the chances are of the USTR pulling a fast one.

You know, craft a phony version with none of the bad parts for public display and then switch it for the real Legacy Industry version of the agreement at the last moment.

Considering how utterly crooked these people are, I think that will be the most likely road they’ll take.

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re:

Please respond to this comment with details of everything you know about revolutions, AC.

Once you realize that violence isn’t an almighty problem-solver after which you can ride out into the sunset, leaving everything to sort itself out, perhaps you’ll stop advocating it.

What we need is for people to take their representatives in hand and make it clear that if they don’t stop selling us out we’ll vote for someone else in the next election. Then we need to actually follow that through. Some knocking on doors and advocating for third parties is involved in this; your vote, by itself, won’t achieve much.

I know it’ll take a lot of time and effort, but it’ll be a lot less messy in the long run. Bear in mind that any attempt at an armed revolution will be quickly labeled “terrorism” and stamped out accordingly.

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Re: Revolutions

Just in case nobody has ever actually noticed this, the word revolution actually explains all by itself exactly how silly revolutions are.

A revolution is where a point rotates 360 degrees and ends up right back where it started.

All revolution has ever done throughout history is replace one group of criminals with another because all revolutions use violence to achieve the goal of ending violence.

In simplest terms in such situations, the rebels must prove to be more violent than the regime they wish to remove from power in order to succeed. The result is simply replacing the current violent group of people at the top of the hierarchy with an even more violent group of people at the top of the hierarchy.

What is needed is not revolution, but evolution – the change from an obsolete form to a more advanced form.

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Re: The Vote stops there...

As an aside to Pragmatic:

What we need is for people to take their representatives in hand and make it clear that if they don’t stop selling us out we’ll vote for someone else in the next election. Then we need to actually follow that through. Some knocking on doors and advocating for third parties is involved in this; your vote, by itself, won’t achieve much.

Actually, your vote won’t mean a thing. That system was rigged a long time ago and is only maintained in order to present the public with a placebo that makes them think they are actually participating in government.

This is done so that We The People blame each other for electing the crooks in office, effectively turning our anger against ourselves and away from those running the dog and pony show.

Allowing citizens to effectively participate in politics would make the current brand of corporate-politics – proprietors of such things as the NSA Surveillance Programs and the Drone Assassinations – impossible, and as such is strictly forbidden.

Those who gather and count your vote are not under your control, and it is they who determine who actually gets elected according to their real employers wishes.

Your vote is little more than piss in the wind.

As long as you believe otherwise, you are in effect, doing the corporate PR work for the crooks.

GEMont (profile) says:

re: nigh eve it tay

“Closed door meetings neednt be nefarious.”

Certinly they need’nt be nefarious, in a world where government members are honest people working for the betterment of the people of their respective nations.

That however has nothing to do with the reality of the situation when dealing with actual real life people in real life cases, right here on earth, where closed door negotiations are carried out to prevent the public from knowing what is being done in their name.


“Paranoia breeds paranoia.”

Says you. Care to post a reference to this silly “factoid”?


“If states have to negotiate in public, they won’t negotiate.”

Then they’re negotiating with criminal intent, else they would have no problems with the public watching them. Honest states have no problems negotiating in public.


“If they don’t negotiate, they will bicker.”

Oh dear! Bicker! Mustn’t have our governments bickering!
Quick, get the public out of the room, so the crooks can make their deals safely!!! That is the silliest comment so far, but I’ll bet you can do better.


“If they bicker, they will arm.”

These “outofyourass” assumptions are getting sillier.
Just in case you really do live in a box on the moon, states are always armed. No bickering needed.


“If there’s arms races, said states will use said arms.”

Oh certainly. After all, just look at how many nuclear wars we have had so far since the start of the Nuclear Arms Race.


“Even pre-emptively strike. (now who’s paranoid)”

Pre-emptively strike…., you mean like strike before they get armed or before they start an arms race???….and, yeah, with an outlook on the world like the one you just posted, methinks you would have to be paranoid, neurotic, or simply suffering from a sports injury to the head.

Thankfully, the rest of us don’t live on Barsoom.
But thanks anyway, I needed a good laugh.

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