USTR Nominee Confuses Transparency With Listening

from the other-direction,-mr.-froman dept

We've already explained why were were worried that new USTR nominee Michael Froman would be as bad, if not worse, than his predecessor, Ron Kirk. And, in his Senate approve hearings he provided little to change that opinion:
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) raised the extraordinary secrecy shrouding the Obama administration's trade negotiations to date.  Wyden has blasted USTR's incredible decision to keep the negotiating text of the sweeping TPP pact, affecting everything from food safety to Internet freedom, hidden from the U.S. public and even from members of Congress.  Not even the Bush administration attempted that degree of secrecy.  Wyden asked, "If confirmed, will you make sure that the public...gets a clear and updated description of what trade negotiators are seeking to obtain in the negotiations so that we can make this process more transparent in the future?" Wyden further asked that negotiating texts be placed online.  Froman responded by saying he agrees with the principle of transparency.  But instead of committing to a meaningful fulfillment of that principle by releasing the TPP text online (as done under Bush), he reiterated USTR's general desire to seek input from "stakeholders."  It is of course difficult for stakeholders to provide meaningful input if they cannot see the thing in which they have a stake.   
Of course, as we've explained many times, transparency has nothing to do with seeking input from stakeholders, but the opposite: providing information to the public. Listening is important to understand what's going on, but that's not transparency.

It's pretty simple: information flowing into the USTR is not transparency. Information flowing to select interests is not transparency. Releasing information to the public is transparency. How does the USTR continually get away with pretending otherwise?

Separately, as the article linked above notes, Froman refused to comment on whether he supported investor-state dispute resolution mechanisms that are showing up in trade agreements and which, as we've been highlighting, are so dangerous. He'd only say it's a matter worthy of discussion. But then refused to discuss it. Which says a lot. He also claimed he was going to continue to seek fast track authority, which they renamed Trade Promotion Authority -- which basically forces Congress to sign away its right to oversee what's in TPP. These are all very worrisome statements, because it means we're getting more of the same: a USTR that wants to make an end-run around the public and Congress, but which is driven by the interests of some of the largest companies.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Jun 11th, 2013 @ 5:00pm

    Mike describes Mike on copyright:

    "He'd only say it's a matter worthy of discussion. But then refused to discuss it. Which says a lot." ... Assuming any new here, that's technically off-topic but an ongoing complaint that I'll only link to:
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130121/14473121743/global-hackathons-prepared-to-carry-forwa rd-work-aaron-swartz.shtml#c377

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2013 @ 5:04pm

    "How does the USTR continually get away with pretending otherwise?"
    Secret interpretation of transparency.

     

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

  3.  
    icon
    Rapnel (profile), Jun 11th, 2013 @ 5:05pm

    Damn horses. Sometimes they just need to be put down.

     

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

  4.  
    icon
    Rapnel (profile), Jun 11th, 2013 @ 5:07pm

    Re: Mike describes Mike on copyright:

    babble babble what?

    I think OOB has been hijacked by clown face.

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2013 @ 5:10pm

    My input:

    You're hiding the info from me.

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Jun 11th, 2013 @ 10:45pm

    Re: Mike describes Mike on copyright:

    Stop stealing my name, asshole..

     

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

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2013 @ 12:38am

    Fearing input from stakeholders

    Like any vampire, they rely on secrecy, are afraid of sunlight, want to suck your blood and are really, really scared of genuine input from stakeholders.

     

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

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2013 @ 1:55am

    The USTR goes around any democratically elected oversight...
    The NSA goes around any democratically elected oversight...
    The CIA goes around any democratically elected oversight...

    Why bother electing any officials anymore? Just be blunt and call it an oligarchy...

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2013 @ 4:11am

    while this and other similar bodies exist, there will be nothing done that allows the public to have any input. they get no say in anything, they get to see nothing! the part about 'driven by the interests of some of the largest companies' is oh so true! and goes straight to the post above about Orwell's books. 1984 is so near, although late. if we allow that to happen, for the world to be run by industries and corporations, we will end up in disaster, and we may never recover from that. profit is all they understand and they will go to any lengths to have as much as possible. if that means turning everyone into a mindless moron to get and keep control, that's what they will do! it has already started. look at what Hollywood and the entertainment industries have done to the people and the 'law'. look what they are still doing to the people and the 'law', just to stop people from keeping control of their own lives, their own things! and it's spreading fast!!

     

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

  10.  
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    Josef Anvil (profile), Jun 12th, 2013 @ 4:34am

    Input from Inigo Montoya

    Transparency.

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

     

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

  11.  
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    Tex Arcana (profile), Jun 15th, 2013 @ 2:45pm

    Re:

    Wrong.

    Secret representations, not of the PEOPLE of the United States; but of a select and secret group of industries, including the *IAA's, whose sole objective is to corporatize America, and make it impossible for the c̶i̶t̶i̶z̶e̶n̶s̶ slaves to know what's being done to them.

    We are being screwed, any way you look at it; and those abomination is just the tip of the iceberg.

     

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


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