fresh voices from the front lines of change







How far have we drifted from our original intent to be a constitutional republic ruled by We the People?

U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 8: "The Congress shall have Power ... To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations..."

But today? Not so much. The following quote is from Politico Pro, which is behind a paywall. The minority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives would like to know what is in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) - a still-secret treaty that regulates commerce with foreign nations:

"We have to see TPP. It may not be the final agreement, but we have to see what it is," Pelosi told reporters after the first of several House Democratic Caucus meetings to dig into details about the proposed pact with Japan and 10 other countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Under the Constitution, Congress is supposed to set the terms, oversee the negotiations, carefully consider the results, allow the public time to analyze and weigh in.

But now a secret trade agreement – initiated and negotiated in a corporate-dominated process with other stakeholders excluded – is kept from Congress. The corporations and administration tell Congress to pass "fast track," trade promotion authority that gives them 90 days after seeing the treaty to vote (so the public is kept away from the process) and to agree that they can't fix any problems they find. They are being pressed to pass this before they see the resulting agreement.

Times have changed. Today the Constitution and Congress are pests, gnats to be swatted aside.

It's Classified – So YOU Won't Know What's In It

Meanwhile the administration will brief Democrats soon on some of what is in TPP, but the meeting is classified. Members of Congress who tell the public what they hear about a treaty that Congress is supposed to "have the power" over can be prosecuted.

Here's the thing. Obviously the trade partners know what is in TPP. The only people who this secrecy will prevent from knowing what is in the agreement are members of the U.S. public.

Zach Carter, writing in "What's Going On In Obama's Trade Meeting With Democrats? That's Classified" at The Huffington Post:

As the Obama administration gives House Democrats a hard sell on a major controversial trade pact this week, it will be doing so under severe conditions: Any member of Congress who shares information with the public from a Wednesday briefing could be prosecuted for a crime.

"I'm not happy about it," said Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.). "It is part of a multi-year campaign of deception and obstruction. Why do we classify information? It's to keep sensitive information out of the hands of foreign governments. In this case, foreign governments already have this information. They're the people the administration is negotiating with. The only purpose of classifying this information is to keep it from the American people."

... "It's not like they will be discussing the nuclear codes," said Lori Wallach, director of Global Trade Watch at Public Citizen.

[...] "I tried to find out what level of classification applies," he said. "Can my top cleared staff read it? If he can hear about ISIS, is there something in here that prevents him from seeing these trade documents?"

Doggett says he hasn't received a response to those questions from [U.S. trade representative Michael] Froman. Each member of Congress will be allowed to bring one staffer with a security clearance to the briefing on Wednesday.

Secret. Secret. Secret. From you. But it's going to be so good when you finally get to see it, right? Who knows? It doesn't matter; you don't get a say in this.

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