USTR Sued For Failing To Reveal TPP Details In Response To FOIA Request
from the national-security? dept
Yeah. A draft of a trade agreement that will impact us all, but is being negotiated in secret by the USTR and a small group of corporate lobbyists, is "national security" information.
In response, New and the MFIA clinic have now filed a lawsuit against the government concerning the failure to provide this information. I have no idea how the lawsuit will turn out, but it seems likely that the TPP text will be revealed as "finalized" before anything really happens with the lawsuit. Still, hopefully they'll be able to argue that they were seeing the draft texts, rather than the final agreement, and set some sort of precedent.
When asked about the lawsuit over the near total lack of transparency, the USTR's spokesperson Carol Guthrie repeated the same completely bogus talking point she sends to everyone (she's sent it to me in the past as well about other TPP issues):
The reality is that TPP negotiations have been more transparent and consultative than any U.S. trade agreement in history while maintaining the confidentiality appropriate for a government-to-government negotiation. Releasing internal deliberative documents would undermine U.S. leverage in negotiations and impair our ability to pursue the strongest possible outcomes on issues ranging from labor and environmental protections to market access for U.S. goods and services.This statement is as obnoxious as it is misleading. First of all, being "more transparent" is meaningless if the baseline is "totally opaque" and this is a tiny bit more transparent. Second, and more importantly, Guthrie and the USTR continue to use this bogus assertion that listening to lots of people is "transparency." We've explained (and I've told her directly) that transparency is not listening, it's about information flowing in the other direction. Listening is about taking information in. Transparency is about information flowing in the other direction. Claiming that being "consultative" is being "transparent" is simply false. It's not.
Finally, the claim that releasing "deliberative documents would undermine U.S. leverage in negotiations" is equally bogus. As many have pointed out, all sorts of international agreements are negotiated in public, with proposals being released publicly while the negotiations are ongoing. The recently concluded Marrakesh Treaty for the Blind worked that way. It's becoming completely obvious that the USTR has absolutely no interest in even the slightest bit of honest debate over its role in pushing the agenda of a few large companies against the best interests of innovation, jobs and the American public. While it may get them high paying jobs with lobbyists in a couple years, it's a shame they feel the need to sell out the public for their personal benefit, and it's worse that they're doing this with the stamp of approval from the White House.