WASHINGTON (Rooters agency) – The White House announced today that, contrary to some people’s expectations, the text of the TPP treaty will not be made public before Congress votes on whether to approve or reject it.
“And maybe not after it’s approved either,” said White House Press Secretary Jed Lee Earnest. “We’re still looking into that one.”
Supporters of the TPP – Trade Pig in a Poke – fall into two broad categories: those who know what’s in the agreement and those who don’t. Those in the latter group, Earnest pointed out, have to trust those in the first group – and so they should, since those are the people who know what the TPP is about. Because they wrote it. Unselfishly.
It has always been the intention of the US and other governments negotiating the treaty to make its contents public at some point. For example, if a corporation were to claim a billion dollars from a government because the government had violated some provision of the TPP, it would probably be necessary to tell the world, or at least the lawyers, what was in that provision. Unless the TPP agreement said it could be kept secret. Which it may do; we don’t know yet.
But there have been some unforeseen obstacles to making the treaty contents public. A major one has been leaks about those contents, which have tended to arouse public opposition. As one (anonymous) negotiator complained, “They never leak the parts where we say how good it is for everyone. They just leak the bits that show that those parts are bullshit.”
White House insiders say there is concern that, if members of Congress were to have before them the same text that caused public opposition when it was leaked, some of them might vote against the treaty. From this standpoint, it is best to keep everything secret and count on the widespread Congressional assumption that if something is secret, it must be patriotic, and vice versa. As one Presidential advisor put it, “They approved fast track. Why wouldn’t they approve this?”
However, others in the administration think that compromise may be necessary. They propose that only members of Congress be shown the TPP treaty contents, and that anybody else who mentions those contents to anyone else be prosecuted under the Espionage Act.
With only Congress knowing what is in the treaty, they argue, members would find it easier to vote to approve it. If challenged later, they could say that they didn’t realize how bad it was because they hadn’t had time to read it.