Senators Up In Arms Over State Department Plan To Deliberately Ignore Malaysian Mass Graves Just To Get TPP Deal

from the maybe-fast-track-wasn't-such-a-good-idea,-huh? dept

Earlier this week, we wrote about a troubling move by the US State Department to "upgrade" Malaysia from a "tier 3" country to a "tier 2" country regarding human trafficking. This move came despite a near total lack of evidence of any improvement by Malaysia. In fact, just two months ago 139 mass graves were discovered for migrant workers who had been trafficked and/or held for ransom. And the US ambassador to Malaysia had publicly criticized the country for failing to tackle its massive human trafficking problem.

So why would the State Department magically upgrade Malaysia? Well, because of a tiny provision in the fast track "Trade Promotion Authority" deal that Congress recently passed. It noted that fast track authority would not apply to trade deals involving countries that were categorized as "tier 3" by the State Department. In other words, this should have given the US tremendous leverage to push Malaysia to really tackle the problem. Instead, because it appears that the administration is so focused on getting the TPP officially finished and ratified, it got the State Department to just magically upgrade Malaysia, and effectively spit on the graves of those murdered migrant workers.

It appears that this may have been a move too far for some Senators, as 19 of them are demanding some answers from Secretary of State John Kerry about this decision to "upgrade" Malaysia.
In the letter, senators said that upgrading Malaysia would weaken the U.S. government's international credibility on human rights issues.

"Fighting human trafficking is one of the great moral challenges of our time," the senators wrote. "It is therefore with grave concern that we now hear Malaysia may be upgraded in this year’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report based on developments that occurred after the end of the review period. A premature upgrade of Malaysia would undermine the integrity of the TIP report process and compromise our international efforts to fight human trafficking."
You think? But, really, to this administration is the integrity of a program on things like human trafficking really that important when compared to getting the TPP agreement and its bundle of gifts to corporations moving forward again? In the grand political calculus, migrant workers in Malaysia get screwed over again. But, no worries, at least Phillip Morris can sue countries that try to warn people about the dangers of smoking. Either way, it's just poor helpless people getting totally screwed over, while giant corporations get richer. No big deal, I guess.

Filed Under: fast track, human trafficking, malaysia, tip, tpp, trade deals


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jul 2015 @ 5:29am

    "You think? But, really, to this administration is the integrity of a program on things like human trafficking really that important when compared to getting the TPP agreement and its bundle of gifts to corporations moving forward again? "

    LMAO, hell no. Welcome to realpolitik.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jul 2015 @ 5:38am

    The American empire from this period will be remembered by history like the Nazis.

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 16 Jul 2015 @ 5:52am

    People warned the legislative about this, they warned that fast track wasn't good, that the Executive cannot be trusted for a while now. But they went ahead and approved it. They decided to give up their power to audit and scale down the intelligence programs. Seriously, why are they that angry now? They were warned.

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

  • identicon
    David, 16 Jul 2015 @ 5:56am

    The U.S.A. is the home to corporations

    like a man without arms is the home to head lice.

    But while we are doing insect analogies: there is the jewel wasp which stings a cockroach in the brain, injecting a venom that will make the roach lose a will of its own. It then rides the roach, guiding it by its antennae, into some convenient place and lays an egg into the roaches abdomen. When the larva hatches, it eats the passive but live roach from inside out over the course of more than a week before the carcass dies for good.

    Now corporations work similar regarding the brains of nations, their government. Their venom takes the form of cash and other bribes, but the result is a defenseless victim that cannot think of doing anything except bidding its parasite's will which it can no longer distinguish from its own.

    And don't get me started on ants and aphids.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jul 2015 @ 6:35pm

      Re: The U.S.A. is the home to corporations

      If someone would produce a Sunday-morning political program hosted entirely by entomologists, I would watch the hell outta that show.

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

    • identicon
      Klaus, 17 Jul 2015 @ 1:10am

      Re: The U.S.A. is the home to corporations

      "...there is the jewel wasp which stings a cockroach in the brain, injecting a venom that will make the roach lose a will of its own. It then rides the roach, guiding it by its antennae, into some convenient place and lays an egg into the roaches abdomen. When the larva hatches, it eats the passive but live roach from inside out over the course of more than a week before the carcass dies for good."

      Holy shit!

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

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 17 Jul 2015 @ 2:16am

        Re: Re: The U.S.A. is the home to corporations

        Yeah, a lot of wasps have breeding cycles that are really cruel to their hosts. Fun reading if you're a bug enthusiast into horror.

        The cruelty of human beings upon each other is generally small potatoes compared to the kind of horror that happens in nature, even when we try hard.

        But what happens in nature is why we have instincts to try and rise above all that and be nicer to each other.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 17 Jul 2015 @ 7:01am

          Re: Re: Re: The U.S.A. is the home to corporations

          I really liked to think that our better defined, extra brain structures would help us leave most of our base instincts (especially those who lead to our hurting of other people) behind.

          Looks like I was wrong: sex, wealth and power still continue to be the driving forces of our species, even after > 10.000 years of civilization.

          I wonder if, given high enough stakes, our "handlers" would simply let civilization lapse back into a feudal system.

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

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 17 Jul 2015 @ 7:32am

          Re: Re: Re: The U.S.A. is the home to corporations

          Yeah, a lot of wasps have breeding cycles that are really cruel to their hosts.

          Just one more reason to hate wasps.

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

          • icon
            Uriel-238 (profile), 17 Jul 2015 @ 5:26pm

            Reasons to hate wasps

            Except...

            Wasps play a critical roll in keeping vegetation-eaters such as aphids, grasshoppers and locusts in check, who will easily eat all our food crops, and have caused famines and blights before.

            I hear many of these, caterpillars or nymphs, can be good eating themselves, though we have far fewer ways to cultivate and prepare them in contrast to the crops they plague.

            Nature plays a dirty game.

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

  • identicon
    leehb, 16 Jul 2015 @ 6:13am

    Cred???

    Would "weaken the U.S. government's international credibility on human rights issues"????

    You mean, more than it already is????

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

  • icon
    tqk (profile), 16 Jul 2015 @ 6:25am

    Strange, strange world.

    It appears that this may have been a move too far for some Senators, as 19 of them are demanding some answers from Secretary of State John Kerry about this decision to "upgrade" Malaysia.

    So, are there really 19 senators who're not in league with the devil, or is this just more partisan bickering? Then again, the administration's supporters in this are largely GOP and Obama's own party is the opposition, so ... gaak!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jul 2015 @ 7:32am

      Re: Strange, strange world.

      yeah - I was thinking they only are complaining since it an election year. They'll need this to support their next criminal/candidate for office.

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

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 16 Jul 2015 @ 11:51am

      Re: Strange, strange world.


      So, are there really 19 senators who're not in league with the devil, or is this just more partisan bickering?


      The other 81 should be ashamed. I'm sure they're not, but they should be.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Jul 2015 @ 7:06am

        Re: Re: Strange, strange world.

        I'm really really sure that those 19 against weren't made a good enough offer.

        At the end of the day, as long as those mass graves aren't of rich, white Christians the US won't give a $H!T.

        Remember just how fast the Ebola treatment progressed as soon as an American got infected.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jul 2015 @ 6:35am

    You want answers? You can't handle the truth!

    Dear Senators,

    You have the luxury of not knowing what I know, that while human trafficking is tragic, passage of the TPP will probably save money. And this agreement, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves money. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you WANT me making this deal. You NEED me to make this deal. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to some senators who are elected and re-elected under the blanket of money that I provide and then question the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I'd suggest you not give fast track authority. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to.

    Sincerely,

    John Kerry

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jul 2015 @ 8:58am

      Re: You want answers? You can't handle the truth!

      I suggest we move to an immediate dismissal of all accountability, the Executive branch has privileges far beyond what it should.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jul 2015 @ 11:43am

      Re: You want answers? You can't handle the truth!

      Secretary Kerry, did you order the tier upgrade?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jul 2015 @ 6:37am

    At least 1 positive note on all this is that some senators do have principles apparently and are not willing to sell their integrity to the highest bidder

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

    • icon
      W Klink (profile), 16 Jul 2015 @ 6:53am

      Already sold...

      Well, no, four of those that signed the letter (Bennet, Portman, Rubio and Wyden) had voted yes for fast track. Their leader, Menendez, didn't even vote on the deal at all! They signed away their integrity with a blank check and they're not getting it back now.

      The rest were opposed to the deal from the beginning, so attacking it now isn't about principles, it's just about reminding their base how they voted.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 16 Jul 2015 @ 7:09am

        Re: Already sold...

        I suppose I could give the benefit of the doubt to the ones who voted against FTA, and signed the letter, as perhaps being honest, but those who voted for FTA, and signed the letter? Not a chance, it's pure political posturing, nothing more.

        They voted in favor of handing over their responsibilities, whether for political or personal reasons, and now that they're looking bad as a result, they're trying to cover their asses and pretend that they actually care. Yeah, not buying it, if they objected, they should have done so by voting against FTA, rather than acting shocked, shocked I say, that their actions have some seriously nasty consequences for people who aren't them.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jul 2015 @ 11:14am

      Re:

      ...or they figure that grandstanding on this issue is safe, as it gives them voter points for the upcoming election, while not actually risking anything, as they've already signed away their right to make any decisions on this topic.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jul 2015 @ 6:56am

    Answers

    It appears that this may have been a move too far for some Senators, as 19 of them are demanding some answers from Secretary of State John Kerry about this decision to "upgrade" Malaysia.

    Kerry: We upgraded Malaysia to get TPP passed.

    Senators: Oh, okay.

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 16 Jul 2015 @ 7:00am

    Much like an avalanche that buries a town 'undermines' the ability to live there

    A premature upgrade of Malaysia would undermine the integrity of the TIP report process and compromise our international efforts to fight human trafficking."

    That's putting it mildly in the extreme. A decision like this doesn't 'undermine', it absolutely destroys any 'integrity' of the TIP report, by making it clear that all a country has to do to get a 'better' ranking is have something the USG wants badly enough. Offer the right incentives, and those pesky human rights violations will just be overlooked and brushed under the rug.

    The move by the State Department didn't 'undermine the integrity of the TIP report process', it completely eliminated the integrity of the entire report, making it utterly worthless at best.

    Did a country 'place' poorly because they have a terrible track record of human rights violations, or because they stood up to the USG? Did a country 'place' better because they improved in human rights matters, or because they've got something the USG wants, or followed along with the demands of the USG?

    The incredibly disgusting action of the State Department has completely and utterly destroyed any validity the report has now, or could have in the future, by making it clear that they are willing to change the findings in it for purely political reasons.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jul 2015 @ 8:50am

      Re: Much like an avalanche that buries a town 'undermines' the ability to live there

      Worse than that, it discredits the entire state department. And if nothing is done about it, the entire US government by extension.

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

      • identicon
        David, 16 Jul 2015 @ 9:53am

        Re: Re: Much like an avalanche that buries a town 'undermines' the ability to live there

        Yeah, discredit.

        Democracy is the power to threaten the person robbing you at gun point that you'll hand your wallet over to a different crook first next time if he does not stop kicking you in the stomach.

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

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 16 Jul 2015 @ 10:47am

        Re: Re: Much like an avalanche that buries a town 'undermines' the ability to live there

        That horse is long out of the barn. The state department, and the US government, are already well discredited.

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

  • icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 16 Jul 2015 @ 7:33am

    TIP Report Reclassification

    From this date forward, the TIP report now stands as an addendum to the Special 301 report.

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

  • identicon
    Ambrellite, 16 Jul 2015 @ 8:09am

    All about oil again

    And why is it so important that Malaysia is part of the deal? Because it would solidify US influence over the strait of Malacca, which is a major route for oil supplies to reach China, North Korea, and Japan.

    It's obstruction wouldn't threaten the U.S., but controlling it would provide us with a significant advantage if a conflict with China broke out. It's the same idea behind putting missile systems closer and closer to Russia, just in case.

    Just as in the Middle East, we see the U.S. vying for control of oil routes to get leverage, and allying with totalitarian regimes to do it.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jul 2015 @ 8:15am

    You have it all wrong

    The Dems are for the little guy. There is no way they would allow corporate interests to override the needs of the people. Or is that just one of the many lies the Dems tell? I guess actions speak louder than words and we can see from Obama's and the Dems actions they care nothing for people.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 16 Jul 2015 @ 2:12pm

      Re: You have it all wrong

      Congrats, you have won the 'Sucker of the Day' award for falling for the oldest trick in the book, 'My tribe vs Your tribe.'

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

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 16 Jul 2015 @ 1:54pm

    It appears that this may have been a move too far for some Senators, as 19 of them are demanding some answers from Secretary of State John Kerry about this decision to "upgrade" Malaysia.


    I love the use of the word "demanding". I imagine their letter was something like;

    "Dear John Kerry,

    We think you might possibly have gone a smidge too far in reclassifying Malaysia and if you could see it in your hear to maybe, when you get a chance, let us in on the reasoning for this, we'd be ever so grateful. Pretty please?

    Sincerely,

    A bunch of mostly powerless senators"

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jul 2015 @ 5:44pm

    They voted for it and now they are suddenly against it. Looks like they are grandstanding, they know the public doesn't like this law so when it's time to grandstand they know to grandstand against it. When it's time to vote they vote for it because they are bought and paid for.

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

  • identicon
    Bob, 16 Jul 2015 @ 5:46pm

    As long as you shop at Wal-Mart. Malaysia is like the movie "Hostile" just don't download the Movie, That's Illegal. Any thing else goes though, Malaysia Vacation spot of 2017.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jul 2015 @ 8:52pm

    This isn't about free trade. It's about the free exploitation of the 99%. That's why everyone but the 1% is excluded from the negotiations.

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

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 16 Jul 2015 @ 9:39pm

    There are rumors...

    Partially from the original Reuters artical, that Vietnam and Brunei are wanting a bit of this magic clemency as well.

    Vietnam would very much like it's fondness for disappearing dissidents to itself disappear.

    And Brunei likes its Shariah law, and likes its adulterers and sodomists stoned to death, and would very much rather people who don't like that check their privilege.

    And what's good for Malaysia is good for these guys, right?

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 16 Jul 2015 @ 11:34pm

      Re: There are rumors...

      If the State Department is willing to 'overlook' slavery and mass graves, then I don't imagine they would hesitate much in doing the same for other countries looking for a little 'help' improving their standing with the USG, and having done it once, any other country involved in TPP who wants the same treatment has now got a pretty hefty bit of leverage to use to get the same treatment.

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

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 17 Jul 2015 @ 2:29am

        This may present a hope for optimists...

        ...that the cost of doing business to get TPP passed will at some point exceed a threshold where it just feels unscrupulous to those in Washington pushing for it.

        To offer a Godwinian standard, Maybe the annihilation of six million Jews is our threshold of what is too disgusting to stomach for the TPP.

        For starters we have 1.9 million little girls captive in the Malaysian sex trade, and that's what we're getting ready to forgive. It's up to the other nations to hold their participation in the TPP to to the point our representatives can no longer sleep at night.

        The lifespan of a sex slave, incidentally averages about seven years in captivity. So I'm not sure if the sex-slave-to-jew-execution ratio would be 1::1

        The girls imported from China are advertised as China Dolls. Cute, huh?

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

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 17 Jul 2015 @ 7:35am

          Re: This may present a hope for optimists...

          This may present a hope for optimists...
          ...that the cost of doing business to get TPP passed will at some point exceed a threshold where it just feels unscrupulous to those in Washington pushing for it.


          And you're thinking they will stop pushing for it then? Or will they think "man, this feels unscrupulous, but that's OK, our laws are set up so I can't really be punished for it"?

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

          • icon
            Uriel-238 (profile), 17 Jul 2015 @ 11:32am

            It's been [25,544 days] since our last nuclear war.

            (69 years, 11 months, and 8 days. It'll be 70 years on August 9th, which should make an awesome meme.)

            Not for want of nukes falling into the hands of fanatics and madmen -- exactly the types of crazy terrorist types we'd fear would nuke US cities in a blink if they had the chance.

            And my only explanations for it are either.

            A. Seventy years of pure luck, or:

            B. There's crystalline sliver of human decency in every one of us, and the gravity of killing 3,000,000 people (plus or minus an order of magnitude or two) is just more than one person can bear, even a crazy terrorist madman.

            As illustrated in The Unforgiven, "It's a helluva thing killing a man". I can't imagine someone smacking down a country full of innocent people and living with themselves.

            So I think that our representatives have a threshold where what they do is disgusting beyond their ability to endure. Maybe they already feel it and suppress it with booze, I don't know. But yeah, I hope somewhere it reaches them the uncountable China Dolls that they're actively refusing to acknowledge for love of their corporate masters.

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

            • icon
              nasch (profile), 17 Jul 2015 @ 12:29pm

              Re: It's been [25,544 days] since our last nuclear war.

              I might be a little more cynical. I think the people with access to nuclear weapons simply believe they have more to lose by using them than to gain.

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

        • identicon
          Rekrul, 17 Jul 2015 @ 10:28am

          Re: This may present a hope for optimists...

          ...that the cost of doing business to get TPP passed will at some point exceed a threshold where it just feels unscrupulous to those in Washington pushing for it.

          No problem! They can just re-reclassify Malaysia after the TPP passes. Problem solved!

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

    • identicon
      Klaus, 17 Jul 2015 @ 1:59am

      Re: There are rumors...

      Although that genuinely worries me, let's not forget, the US "tortured some folk..."

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


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