Doubly whammy hits TPPA

Leaked IP text & US Congress revolts against Fast Track 

‘Two king hits in one day for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is a bad omen for chief negotiators and hundreds of officials as they head into a crunch meeting in Salt Lake City next week’, according to Auckland University Professor Jane Kelsey, who monitors the negotiations.

Yet another leaked text of the intellectual property chapter was posted on Wikileaks today, dating from the end of the Brunei round in August. It includes the positions of all 12 countries and reveals a massive gulf between US demands and a bloc of other countries, including New Zealand. The US still has place-savers for several highly controversial further demands, notably on biologic products, which involve genes and living cells.

Analyses of the text are available from KeiOnline and Public Citizen Access to Medicines.

‘As we have consistently said, the obsessive secrecy surrounding these negotiations makes leaks inevitable. It is in the national interest, and the interests of democracy, for the parties to release the draft texts of all the chapters now to allow informed analysis, democratic input and assessment of the risks’, said Professor Kelsey.

In a second, stunning blow to the TPPA negotiations, 151 of the 201 Democrat members of the US House of Representatives today released a letter to the President that formally declared their opposition to giving him “fast track authority’. Others may follow.

The letter states ‘we will oppose “Fast Track” Trade Promotion Authority or any other mechanism delegating Congress’ constitutional authority over trade policy that continues to exclude us from having a meaningful role in the formative states of trade agreements and throughout negotiating and approval processes.’

Fast track, otherwise known as Trade Promotion Authority, would require Congress to accept the final TPPA deal or reject it, in toto, and not to cherry pick the parts they want and block what they do not like. No major deal has gone through Congress in recent decades without fast track.

The Democrats’ pledge means Obama would have to rely on Republicans, with whom he has been consistently at war over, most recently on the debt ceiling. Earlier this week 22 Republicans signed a similar pledge. 

According to the New York Times yesterday, “Other members have signaled their opposition independently, meaning that roughly 40 percent to 50 percent of House members have signaled, sight unseen, that they do not support the regional trade pact.”

The TPPA parties want to conclude a deal by the end of 2013. Even if Congress was willing, there is no chance of fast track being approved this year. The House of Representatives has only 15 sitting days left for 2013 before they go on a month-long New Year break. 

‘In a sane world, this declaration from members of Congress would see the chief negotiators abandon their planned summit in Salt Lake City next week’, said Professor Kelsey. 

‘Their goal is to prepare the platform for Trade Ministers to engage in serious horse-trading in Singapore from 7-9 December’. 

But Professor Kelsey warns that ‘without fast track, Obama can’t deliver on any political trade-offs. For New Zealand, and other governments, to proceed in that context is playing Russian roulette with our futures’.


The attached memorandum provides further information. 

The largest margin by which any recent US President got fast track through the House was 27 votes. One passed by two votes and one failed. Opposition spanned party lines.

President Obama first said he wanted Congress to give him Fast Track during State of the Nation address in February 2013. Eight months later he still has not introduced a bill. 

A bipartisan team of four senior members from the Finance and Ways and Means committees have been working on the draft bill for months, but have not yet agreed.

The toxic battle over the debt ceiling in October will resume in February 2014. 

The Tea Party has already launched its anti-fast track campaign, and opposes the Trade Adjustment Assistance programme that provides extended unemployment benefits and job retraining to US workers who lose their jobs to trade.

There is a backlash among members of Congress against unprecedented limits on their access to the negotiating process and draft text (although they still have more access than any New Zealand MPs have.)

Members of the House of Representatives are elected every two years. Their priorities, often linked to campaign funds, range across dairy, tobacco, pharmaceutical monopolies, mining, environment, offshoring of jobs, food safety, and re-regulating the finance industry. All are key areas in the TPPA negotiations.

John Key Says Yanks Not Spying On Him

He Should Lay A Complaint About Being Left Out

John Key says that he’s allowed to  wear big boy’s pants because New Zealand is a member of The Club (Five Eyes, formally known as the UKUSA Agreement), which he says means that the intelligence agencies of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand don’t spy on each other’s countries. He reckons it specifically means that the US National Security Agency (NSA) does not spy on him.

To which the Anti-Bases Campaign says – pull the other one, John, this one’s got a bug in it.

Of course the NSA spies on its “allies and friends” in Five Eyes. Why wouldn’t they? They’re spying on all their other “friends”.

ABC says its dollars to doughnuts that NSA has been, is, and will be spying on Key. So will the other Big Brothers in Five Eyes. Indeed it is highly likely that the NSA will have subcontracted the job to one of the allied agencies to spy on the smallest of the small fry.

But don’t just take ABC’s word for it that the NSA spies on its Five Eyes allies, or that the constituent agencies are used to spy on other member countries. After all, we might be “anti-American conspiracy theorists with an axe to grind”.

No, take the word of one of the spooks who worked inside the system. And we’re not talking about Edward Snowden.

In 2001 (just after 11/9, as it turned out) ABC organised a national speaking tour by former Canadian spook turned author, Mike Frost. We did so because he had written, in 1994, an insider’s book called “Spyworld: Inside The Canadian And American Intelligence Establishments”.

Here are some relevant extracts from Bob Leonard’s review of it in our newsletter Peace Researcher.

“Mike Frost is not the first spy to spill the beans... But Frost’s is the only firsthand account (to our knowledge) of the inner workings of America’s National Security Agency (NSA) and its Canadian sibling agency just over the border, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE).  Frost was an employee of the CSE for 19 years and spent plenty of time at NSA as well in training and liaison.

“Embassy collection even involves the Americans spying on the Canadians. In his many trips to College Park for NSA briefing, Frost learned of techniques for disguising antennas on the roofs of embassies. He and his colleagues quickly concluded that Canada was not immune to NSA spying. ‘The Americans don’t care who they commit espionage against, on the principle that they may get something that’s useful to their country.  They routinely collect foreign intelligence against everybody’.

“In 1983, CSE was asked to spy for GCHQ at the behest of Margaret Thatcher.  ‘…it seems as if Margaret Thatcher [then British Prime Minister] thinks two of the Ministers in her Cabinet are not ‘on-side’… She wants to find out if they are’. CSE carried out the intercepts:  ‘We never stopped to question the morality of doing what amounted to dirty tricks for a partisan politician, for her very personal reasons, in a foreign land. After all, we weren’t spying on Canadians…that time anyway’”.

So there you have it, from the horse’s mouth.  And why would Margaret Thatcher ask GCHQ to subcontract Canadian intelligence to spy for her within Britain, on her own Tory Cabinet colleagues, no less? So that British intelligence would have plausible deniability, if the spying was discovered.

Frost also revealed that Canadian intelligence spied on the US, for trade and economic reasons. He detailed how CSE bugged the car phone of the US Ambassador to Canada to find out what the US would charge China to sell it wheat. And then Canada successfully underbid the US. This was seen as a routine State aid to Canadian business.

The examples given by Frost happened decades ago, when Communists, not terrorists, were used as the justification for the spy agencies crimes and abuses, but the only things that have changed since then is that spying on allies and friends has become more extensive and systematic. It has got worse, not better.

So, John Key is kidding nobody when he reckons that NSA doesn’t spy on him. It is also guaranteed that they will be spying on NZ’s Ministers and trade officials in connection with the secret talks to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. The US will want to know things like how hard NZ really will fight to gain the “holy grail” of dairy products access to the US, and how hard NZ will fight to save Pharmac which the US drug transnational corporations want rid of.

It’s no defence to say “everyone’s doing it”. So, does that mean that the GCSB is using Waihopai to bug Obama’s mobile phone? That’s a very likely scenario, isn’t it?

New Zealand needs to close Waihopai and the GCSB, get out of the international criminal enterprise which is Five Eyes, and develop a truly independent defence and foreign policy.

ABC’s message to John Key is – you’ve spent too long away from Christchurch. Forget about Five Eyes; learn from Cantabrians and become one eyed.

Time to resist?