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WikiLeaks Publishes Secret International Trade Agreement

samzenpus posted about a month ago | from the like-minds dept.

Privacy 222

schwit1 (797399) writes "The text of a 19-page, international trade agreement being drafted in secret was published by WikiLeaks as the transparency group's editor commemorated his two-year anniversary confined to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Fifty countries around the globe have already signed on to the Trade in Service Agreement, or TISA, including the United States, Australia and the European Union. Despite vast international ties, however, details about the deal have been negotiated behind closed-doors and largely ignored by the press. In a statement published by the group alongside the leaked draft this week, WikiLeaks said "proponents of TISA aim to further deregulate global financial services markets," and have participated in "a significant anti-transparency maneuver" by working secretly on a deal that covers more than 68 percent of world trade in services, according to the Swiss National Center for Competence in Research.

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Maybe, if we boycott Sony AND Disney (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47293915)

we can fix this.

Anybody with me???

Hello?

Is this thing on?

Re:Maybe, if we boycott Sony AND Disney (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47295129)

Sadly, even when Sony commits illegal acts such as infecting their customers' computers with rootkits and stealing functionality which was used as a selling point from their consoles, people still worship them and defend their disgusting acts.

yep (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47293923)

and what part of this is a surprise?

Re:yep (1)

Rei (128717) | about a month ago | (#47293947)

That's what I'm wondering. Who thought people working on the followup to the massively-deregulating GATS treaty were working to *increase* regulation on financial services?

Next up: a breaking, top secret release about how people in secret meetings at the NRA are discussing strategy about how to keep the US from passing stricter gun laws!

Re:yep (2)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about a month ago | (#47294219)

The NRA isn't a government-run organization. Certainly if their membership is opposed to secret meetings they can and should take it up within the NRA organization.

But the Government is all of ours.

Re:yep (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47294841)

There's a huge difference between having proof and simply trusting the word of some fat internet neckbeard conspiracy theorists.

Re:yep (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47294101)

Look, a rapist raped again! That's not a surprise, let's not talk about the latest rape.

Re:yep (4, Insightful)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about a month ago | (#47294157)

I am giving up my modeator opportunity on this just to call you a troll.
Who's talking about surprise!?
This is information coming into the open, that's what it is.

Re:yep (1)

mbone (558574) | about a month ago | (#47294715)

It is not particularly surprising, but it is, however, news. That unfortunately we have come to expect sleazy results from these "Trade Agreements" (which are not really about trade, and should properly be Treaties) does not mean that we can ignore yet another example of sleaze.

Man-in-the-Middle? (4, Interesting)

Anna Merikin (529843) | about a month ago | (#47293931)

|(T)he US is particularly keen on boosting cross-border data flow, which would allow uninhibited exchange of personal and financial data.|

Perhaps the traffic between nodes will give the NSA some useful information about people's transactions to "Keep us safe." Or the US IRS about offshore deposits?

Because clearly... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47293937)

The events of the last five or six years have proven that financial markets and institutions have been over regulated.

Re:Because clearly... (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about a month ago | (#47294043)

Yep. If we didn't regulate them, they would never try a stunt like that again.

Oh, did I say "regulate"? I meant "bailout".

Re:Because clearly... (3, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a month ago | (#47294295)

The events of the last five or six years have proven that financial markets and institutions have been over regulated.

Absolute BS. They haven't been over-regulated, they've been mis-regulated.

The Federal government has been blatantly ignoring antitrust laws, for example, while illegally regulating things it has no business or authority to regulate. It has been a combination of under-regulating and over-regulating... adding up to mis-regulation (and often illegal regulation, for that matter... they don't have authority to ignore laws any more than they have to enforce nonexistent laws).

For example, nobody disputes that Obama does not have unilateral authority, for example, to tell the EPA to impose vast new rules without the involvement of Congress. (Much less justified by EPA's "secret science".) Yet he's been doing it.

Re:Because clearly... (1)

gtall (79522) | about a month ago | (#47294443)

So, your snark detector is broken, yes?

Re:Because clearly... (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a month ago | (#47294681)

So, your snark detector is broken, yes?

No, because even if snark, it was still wrong. A sarcastic comment would suggest that there was under-regulation. But that's clearly wrong, too. There is more regulation now than ever before.

Re:Because clearly... (4, Informative)

AK Marc (707885) | about a month ago | (#47294905)

They are under-regulated with more regulations. It's only a contradiction if you choose to be an idiot. The "new" regulations are written by the biggest institutions. They are "self regulating" in a manner that's anti-competitive, not regulatory. They call the anti-competition rules written by the incumbents "regulations" to confuse the idiots.

The restriction on what they can do (in relation to what they would do in the absence of regulation) has decreased. That the total number of rules has increased is irrelevant. They are now, and always have been, under-regulated.

They could choose to be unregulated. Investment houses and PayPal are not regulated as banks. But they choose to be regulated because it benefits them. If they were truly over-regulated, they'd opt out of the regulation. For all PayPal's faults, they don't lend money against deposits or borrow from the fed, so they stay out of "banking" territory. There's no reason any other bank couldn't follow the same rules. Other than they deliberately choose not to because the "regulations" they operate under are a beneficial shield, not a web of tight regulations.

Re:Because clearly... (1)

BradMajors (995624) | about a month ago | (#47294627)

By "over regulated", you mean given them bailouts rather than allowed them to go bankrupt when they get into financial problems?

Re:Because clearly... (0)

AK Marc (707885) | about a month ago | (#47294915)

OK, if you were the government and you saw $10,000,000,000 of insured deposits, and a failure would cost you $10,000,000,000, but a bailout would cost you $500,000,000, which would you choose? Waste $9,500,000,000 of the taxpayer money to teach the bank a lesson? Or "bailout" the bank for $500,000,000?

keeping the heat on (4, Informative)

inode_buddha (576844) | about a month ago | (#47293943)

This thing is bad. It completely bypasses all the traditional controls of democracy. The people will have no say in it even tho its their money and lives. We need to keep the heat on this kind of thing just like SOPA only much, much more.... some good analysis and commentary over at Naked Capitalism [nakedcapitalism.com] these guys tell it like it is. Basically its looking like a global corporatocracy.

Re:keeping the heat on (2)

jenningsthecat (1525947) | about a month ago | (#47294889)

We need to keep the heat on this kind of thing just like SOPA only much, much more....

True. The thing that concernes me is the number of such initiatives that are flying under our radar. It may be the case, (and IMHO probably is), that there is a huge amount of this kind of crap going on that we only find out about when it's way too late, or never find out about at all.

The real solution here is NOT to fight these fires as we see them crop up. The real solution is to stop the corporations and governments from lighting the damned fires in the first place, before they burn our collective home to the ground. We need to find a way to restore the accountability they once had to us, their customers and citizens, their meal ticket - otherwise we'll continue to become more and more like animals in factory farms, and less and less like the autonomous geings we were born as.

I'll leave it to your creativity and imagination to figure out how this might best be done - there are lots and lots of approaches, and we propbably need to use most of them if we're to reverse this inexorable march toward irreversible feudal serfdom. We're already a LONG way down that road...

This is just fucked up (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47293951)

So, this agreement is about "Financial Services". In the section called "Transparency", it says:

"The Parties recognize that transparent regulations and policies governing the activities of financial service suppliers are important in facilitating their ability to gain access to and operate in each other’s market. Each Party commits to promote regulatory transparency in trade in financial services."

But then the whole agreement is secret. Great transparency there! It's kind of difficult to take this crap seriously.

Re:This is just fucked up (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47294021)

So, this agreement is about "Financial Services". In the section called "Transparency", it says:

But then the whole agreement is secret. Great transparency there! It's kind of difficult to take this crap seriously.

When they refer "transparency", they don't mean transparency to people like you and me. They mean transparency for government three letter agencies.

Re:This is just fucked up (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about a month ago | (#47294051)

You sure they don't mean transparency OF governments FOR corporations? I mean, where's the sense in the pimp being transparent for its whore?

Re:This is just fucked up (2)

Aighearach (97333) | about a month ago | (#47294473)

Agreed, actually that sounds like the most literal reading. Not sure why people can't read... oh, this is slashdot. I gotta find some kind of nerd site or something.

The Parties recognize that transparent regulations and policies governing the activities of financial service suppliers are important in facilitating their ability to gain access to and operate in each other’s market. Each Party commits to promote regulatory transparency in trade in financial services.

Seems to me like they come right out and say clearly that the goal is for the financial service corporations to have access to information about what the regulators are doing.

Re:This is just fucked up (0)

Rei (128717) | about a month ago | (#47294107)

So you think that it's difficult to take crap seriously from an organization that talks about promoting transparency, but is itself highly secretive? Like, oh, let's just say, Wikileaks itself? You know, that famously litigous organization that makes all of its employees sign $20,000,000 NDAs, and which has repeatedly used blackmail, aka threats of information release unless entities pay them protection money (such as blackmailing aid agencies with threats of unredacted information that could get their members killed unless they pay up, even trying to extort $700k from Amnesty International) or give into political demands (usually of the form of get-out-of-jail-free cards, e.g., Assange's "insurance files")?

Re:This is just fucked up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47294235)

Can I smoke some of whatever it is you're smoking?

Re:This is just fucked up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47294453)

u mad bro?

Re:This is just fucked up (2, Insightful)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a month ago | (#47294221)

But then the whole agreement is secret.

The whole agreement is secret right now because it is not even close to a final draft. When it get closer to final draft there may be more official releases. When it gets to final draft it will definitely be released so it can be voted on by the member countries. Keeping drafts a secret is not a big deal and is necessary in every complex agreement. Do you really think it would be effective for every draft to be gone over and commented on by every "expert" in the world? The group would spend all it's time fixing misunderstanding and misrepresentations. Wait for the final draft then we can pick it apart.

Re:This is just fucked up (2)

knightghost (861069) | about a month ago | (#47294255)

When they have a final draft then they'll shove it through.

Re:This is just fucked up (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a month ago | (#47294277)

That would require all governments to "push it through" and I doubt very much it will happen.

Re:This is just fucked up (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47294415)

This thing was written by the banks, for the banks: https://wikileaks.org/tisa-fin... [wikileaks.org]

The development of global finance rules under the guise of ‘trade’ was the brainchild of senior executives of AIG, American Express, Citicorp and Merrill Lynch in the late 1970s. Their role, and subsequently a broader lobby called the Financial Leaders Group, is well documented. The former director of the WTO’s services division himself acknowledged in 1997 that: ‘Without the enormous pressure generated by the American financial services sector, particularly companies like American Express and Citicorp, there would have been no services agreement’.16

As the lobby evolved it was still led from Wall Street, but expanded to include the major insurance and banking institutions, investment banks and auxiliary financial services providers, from funds managers to credit-rating agencies and even the news agency Reuters. They were later joined by the e-finance and electronic payments industry, which includes credit, stored value and loyalty cards, ATM management, and payment systems operators like PayPal.

The industry lobbyists have also set the demands for financial services in TISA. The Chairman of the Board of the US Coalition of Service Industries is the Vice Chairman of the Institutional Clients Group at Citi. When the industry’s demands, as expressed in the consultation on TISA conducted by the US Trade Representative in 2013, are matched against the leaked text it becomes clear that they stand to get most of what they asked for. Extracts from their submissions are listed at the end of this document.

Why is it OK for for private businesses to negotiate worldwide treaties, but not let citizens have any say in the treaty? They are both private entities, not the government. But somehow, the financial sector is given special privilege in this regard.

I'm just going to re-quote this for emphasis: (1)

inode_buddha (576844) | about a month ago | (#47294653)

I'm just going to re-quote this for emphasis:

The development of global finance rules under the guise of âtradeâ(TM) was the brainchild of senior executives of AIG, American Express, Citicorp and Merrill Lynch in the late 1970s. Their role, and subsequently a broader lobby called the Financial Leaders Group, is well documented. The former director of the WTOâ(TM)s services division himself acknowledged in 1997 that: âWithout the enormous pressure generated by the American financial services sector, particularly companies like American Express and Citicorp, there would have been no services agreementâ(TM).16

As the lobby evolved it was still led from Wall Street, but expanded to include the major insurance and banking institutions, investment banks and auxiliary financial services providers, from funds managers to credit-rating agencies and even the news agency Reuters. They were later joined by the e-finance and electronic payments industry, which includes credit, stored value and loyalty cards, ATM management, and payment systems operators like PayPal.

The industry lobbyists have also set the demands for financial services in TISA. The Chairman of the Board of the US Coalition of Service Industries is the Vice Chairman of the Institutional Clients Group at Citi. When the industryâ(TM)s demands, as expressed in the consultation on TISA conducted by the US Trade Representative in 2013, are matched against the leaked text it becomes clear that they stand to get most of what they asked for. Extracts from their submissions are listed at the end of this document.

Why is it OK for for private businesses to negotiate worldwide treaties, but not let citizens have any say in the treaty? They are both private entities, not the government. But somehow, the financial sector is given special privilege in this regard.

"

Re:This is just fucked up (1)

mbone (558574) | about a month ago | (#47294727)

You haven't been paying attention much, have you?

Re:This is just fucked up (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a month ago | (#47295007)

If you mean the hype about "secret negotiating" then yes I have. Otherwise please enlighten me. I doubt you have anything to add to the conversation.

Re:This is just fucked up (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about a month ago | (#47295125)

Re " Great transparency there! It's kind of difficult to take this crap seriously."
What a multinational corporation wants to know is if they buy a natural monopoly or own a cartel like structure in a country is:
Can they set prices every year and never face gov regulation, standards or questions.
Are their international staff safe from any court action before, during or after any event no mater the cause or fault.
Can any one nation break up their monopoly or expose their cartel over time?
Can a multinational corporation conspire to set a global price and get a way with rigging the markets.
They want legal and press transparency to ensure they can profit every year on any investment in any nation that signs up.
No national issues, press or political pressure just the ability to buy in and extract the maximum wealth in any region.
Can a multinational take the local press, gov regulatory bodies, NGO's or individual to court for slander or over any other action and expect to always win.
The transparency of making a good investment, keeping it in profit every year, with low maintenance standards, no press, no courts or political questions.
An investment becomes a colony like zone without fear of competitors, local entrepreneurs, standards or tax questions.

The elephants are stomping on us again (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47293957)

One day the US may elect a government that isn’t Republican-controlled, but today is not that day.

Re:The elephants are stomping on us again (5, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a month ago | (#47293979)

When it comes to corporate ownership, the parties are really no different. Just ask, when did you last see any politician of significent position advocate for less restrictive copyright law, or criticise the high subsidies granted to the agricultural industry?

There seems to be an informal agreement between the parties as to which issues are designated the 'subjects of debate' - ideally things which get the public's emotions running high, but don't actually have a significent impact on those in charge or corporate profits. Gay marriage, abortion, that sort of thing.

Re:The elephants are stomping on us again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47294215)

things which get the public's emotions running high, but don't actually have a significent impact on those in charge or corporate profits. Gay marriage, abortion, that sort of thing.

You're right! The next logical step is to figure out how to build a large corporation on the basis of gay marriage -- then the debate will settle (and whatever position makes money pro-or-con will win)

Re:The elephants are stomping on us again (2, Interesting)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | about a month ago | (#47294237)

Gay marriage, abortion,

... CEO pay. It's a stupid and inconsequential wedge issue for leftists like gay marriage is for rightists — "Some people somewhere are consensually doing something that offends my sensitive sensibilities, so it has to stop even though it's a private matter that I have no part in and no business sticking my nose into!"

Re:The elephants are stomping on us again (1)

PRMan (959735) | about a month ago | (#47294421)

Christians believe that God destroys societies that accept homosexuality. That's why they believe it's their business.

Re:The elephants are stomping on us again (1)

Scarletdown (886459) | about a month ago | (#47294793)

Christians believe that God destroys societies that accept homosexuality. That's why they believe it's their business.

And it is a bloody shame that any organized mythology can have such a deep impact on public policy and the governing of a nation that is supposed to be hands off on such beliefs.

Re:The elephants are stomping on us again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47295123)

Just like it's a bloody shame that groups of people touting "tolerance" are so quick to persecute people who don't agree with them? The sham at Mozilla was not the first and certainly not the last of the latest fad in witch hunts, but it is perhaps the most brazen in recent memory. I trust people preaching tolerance about as much as I trust people who say national security or it's for the children.

Re:The elephants are stomping on us again (5, Insightful)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | about a month ago | (#47294803)

"Some people somewhere are consensually doing something that offends my sensitive sensibilities, so it has to stop even though it's a private matter that I have no part in and no business sticking my nose into!"

The behavior of corporations -- artificial persons created by state fiat -- is not a "private matter".

Re:The elephants are stomping on us again (1)

melchoir55 (218842) | about a month ago | (#47294879)

Our society has finite resources. When some individuals are allocated over 300 times the resources of other individuals then we are seeing the symptom of a significant societal problem. Governments exist in part to intervene in order to solve societal problems in non violent ways. Problems need to be solved. So, if we don't do it nonviolently through an authority in which we all agree has authority, the problem gets solved "the old fashioned way".

When someone makes 2x as much as you and your buddy, the two of you might be incentivized to eliminate that person and take their resources. Twice as much isn't a lot, though, and in fact it isn't exactly safe to try stripping resources from someone when you only outnumber them 2 to 1. There is still a good chance that you could lose more than you could gain. How about when you ramp that ratio up to 300 to 1? That means 300 people could each double their resources by getting together and stripping the resources from a single other member of their society. Alternatively, 10 people could increase their resources by a factor of 30x by doing the same. I don't know how deep you understand human nature, or history, but this is a very bad situation for our society to be in for both the poor and the wealthy.

The amount of guns and ammo sold over the past 5 years is another symptom resulting from what I'm describing. I'll let you connect the dots of where it will end if we stay on the oligarchy road. This is a cycle that has repeated since time immemorial in every oligarchy that has ever existed.

Here are links for my numbers:
http://money.cnn.com/2013/04/15/news/economy/ceo-pay-worker/
http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/04/19/467516/ceo-pay-gap-2011/

Comparing all this to whether two bros who love each other can have a practically meaningless (but symbolically meaningful) title applied to their relationship is ridiculous.

Re:The elephants are stomping on us again (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about a month ago | (#47294055)

What makes you think you have any say in choosing your government?

Re:The elephants are stomping on us again (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about a month ago | (#47294061)

this is beyond democrat and republican, this is about power, and right now both republicans and democrats are 2 sides of the same coin, they are playing us against each other while laughing all the way to the bank.

Re:The elephants are stomping on us again (2)

stenvar (2789879) | about a month ago | (#47294405)

Trade negotiations are the responsibility of the administration, which is firmly controlled by the Democrats. And this Democratic administration, in particular, has been quite secretive in many ways.

Get out of that stupid partisan mindset that the Democrats are the good guys.

Not sure what the "secrecy" fuss is (4, Insightful)

schnell (163007) | about a month ago | (#47293967)

All treaties are negotiated in secret. Furthermore, at least in the US, no treaty is in effect until it is ratified by the Senate, at which point all the elements of the treaty will be public and heavily debated down to the last comma.

It's great that Wikileaks is giving the world a heads-up view into what is being negotiated, but I don't understand why every Slashdot story about international treaties harps on "negotiated in secret" like that's unusual, or that a treaty can somehow take effect silently and invisibly.

Re:Not sure what the "secrecy" fuss is (4, Insightful)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about a month ago | (#47293995)

Just because treaties often are negotiated in secret doesn't mean that they should be.

Re:Not sure what the "secrecy" fuss is (3, Insightful)

ericloewe (2129490) | about a month ago | (#47294113)

Why not? It would only create additional, unnecessary public anxiety about stuff that might never even see the paper.

As long as the final version (release candidate would be a better expression here) is properly publically analysed (and, if needed, rewritten), there's no problem.

Re:Not sure what the "secrecy" fuss is (5, Insightful)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about a month ago | (#47294203)

If the agents involved in the negotiations are private individuals, fine. They are entitled to their privacy. If government agents are involved, they are engaged in the People's Business and we are all entitled to oversee what they're up to.

Re:Not sure what the "secrecy" fuss is (1)

cavreader (1903280) | about a month ago | (#47294565)

In this particular case the treaty is for defining the amount of interference the government will be allowed to inflict on both private and public companies. And the "Peoples Business" is whatever the loudest subgroup of blowhards believe it is at the time. And as the number of people involved in any decision making increases the collective IQ of the group decreases exponentially.

Re:Not sure what the "secrecy" fuss is (1)

whoever57 (658626) | about a month ago | (#47294419)

As long as the final version (release candidate would be a better expression here) is properly publically analysed (and, if needed, rewritten), there's no problem.

But that's the point. There is no rewriting (which would imply re-negotiation) of the final version -- it becomes a take-it-or-leave-it option. That's one of the goals of the secrecy during negotiation.

Re:Not sure what the "secrecy" fuss is (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | about a month ago | (#47294795)

Depends on how final the final draft is.

Ideally, you open up the proceedings once the fundamentals are in place and everyone's basic demands have been met. From there, it's much easier to filter out the noise and actually improve the treaty.

In practice, if it's felt that the current version won't hold up, it probably won't be the final "take-it-or-leave-it" version.

Re:Not sure what the "secrecy" fuss is (5, Insightful)

Magnus Pym (237274) | about a month ago | (#47294007)

You say that as if this is a good thing. Care to elaborate why it is a great idea why trade treaties (as opposed to defense & military) should be negotiated in secret? Seems to me (and many others who are experts on this subject matter) is that secrecy is a wonderful thing for the lobbyists and other corrupt bureaucrats and sucks for the people whom it would ultimately affect (i.e., all of us).

As for it being debated on the senate floor... what a joke. By the time it gets to the senate, the issue has already been framed, and the range of acceptable options narrowly defined. The fact is that many of the ideas should never be allowed to even get that level of legitimacy.

Re:Not sure what the "secrecy" fuss is (2)

iplayfast (166447) | about a month ago | (#47294041)

Off the top of my head, if any agreement is negotiated in secret, it has a much higher chance of agreement then if it is negotiated in public or by commitee. So the idea is that people you elect to represent you do it, and do it in secret in order to get things accoplished.

Re:Not sure what the "secrecy" fuss is (3, Interesting)

ganjadude (952775) | about a month ago | (#47294073)

"getting something accomplished" is not the job of the federal government. the role of the federal government is to enforce the rules of the constitution. Somewhere in the last 100 years the role of the government changed from uphold the constitution to bribe as many people as possible to bring as much federal money back to ones home district, and keep getting re-elected.

Re: Not sure what the "secrecy" fuss is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47294477)

The Founders were well aware of the value of negotiating in secret. That's why the negotiations at the Constitutional Convention were held in secret (of course, some details leaked).

Re: Not sure what the "secrecy" fuss is (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about a month ago | (#47294485)

oh dont get me wrong, Im not arguing that some things should not be done in secret. I dont believe trade agreements should be one of them.

Re:Not sure what the "secrecy" fuss is (1)

westlake (615356) | about a month ago | (#47294859)

Somewhere in the last 100 years the role of the government changed from uphold the constitution to bribe as many people as possible to bring as much federal money back to ones home district.

The federal government has been in the business of building a national infrastructure since 1806. The National Road [wikipedia.org]

The infant Republican party of the 1850s was built on two principles --- "internal improvements" and opposition to the expansion of slavery into the new American territories.

The language and the beneficiaries changed over the years, but the nineteenth century politician understood perfectly well that he was expected to bring home the bacon.

Re:Not sure what the "secrecy" fuss is (2, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about a month ago | (#47294155)

Secret negotiation provides an easy way to have a candid discussion, without worrying about vague implications of precise wording that one's political opponents will quote out of context and turn into the next hot election issue.

For example, in a negotiation, a diplomat can say "we don't need the unions to have disproportionate control over production costs", in reference to potentially giving unions control over tariffs. In public, that diplomat can then be quoted as saying "we don't need the unions", and he's lost a large number of supporting votes right there. If he's a Democrat, his career's over, because he didn't toe the party line giving unions full control over everything commercial.

Right now, I'd wager there's even a few Slashdotters getting mad at me because I used their precious unions in an example. Such is the danger of public discussion.

You're right, though, that Congress routinely fails to say "no", on the assumption that full and fair negotiations have already taken place. That's the big problem: there's never any push for politicians to do what's right rather than just reinforce the party.

Re:Not sure what the "secrecy" fuss is (5, Insightful)

whoever57 (658626) | about a month ago | (#47294427)

For example, in a negotiation, a diplomat can say "we don't need the unions to have disproportionate control over production costs", in reference to potentially giving unions control over tariffs

But there is a huge difference between reporting the content of discussions between the parties and publishing early drafts of the proposed treaty.

Re:Not sure what the "secrecy" fuss is (2)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about a month ago | (#47294053)

, at which point all the elements of the treaty will be public and heavily debated down to the last comma.

unless the treaty is subject to the fast track negotiating authority [wikipedia.org] . Furthermore, it is is quite difficult to negotiate a treaty if if it is known that that ratifying bodies plan to make substantive changes after the conclusion of negotiations.

Better to debate before the treaty is signed-- and that cannot happen unless the negotiations are transparent.

Re:Not sure what the "secrecy" fuss is (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about a month ago | (#47294069)

Heavily debated? Where have you been hiding in the last couple years? Such things are introduced into the house/senate at the most inappropriate time (at least if the plan is that someone reads the shit, like, say, just before the members go on vacation), are composed of 1000+ pages that nobody WANTS to read and are rushed through because "delay could be very disadvantageous for our country, and trying to delay it is harming the US interests" (or similar bull).

Now add that the politician's owner informs him that he should better say "ay" should he get asked and it should be obvious how "public" the whole shit ever gets.

Re:Not sure what the "secrecy" fuss is (1)

blackiner (2787381) | about a month ago | (#47294087)

Furthermore, at least in the US, no treaty is in effect until it is ratified by the Senate, at which point all the elements of the treaty will be public and heavily debated down to the last comma.

Not if the treaty specifically states that the documents will be kept secret afterwards:

Additionally, the current draft also includes language inferring that, upon the finishing of negotiations, the document will be kept classified for five full years.

Re:Not sure what the "secrecy" fuss is (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a month ago | (#47294259)

It infers that the draft will be kept secret not the final document. There is a big difference.

Re:Not sure what the "secrecy" fuss is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47294159)

"Open covenants, openly arrived at." Woodrow Wilson would be appalled.

Re:Not sure what the "secrecy" fuss is (3, Insightful)

Halo1 (136547) | about a month ago | (#47294313)

All treaties are negotiated in secret.

Secret from the general populace: yes. Secret from large corporations and lobby groups: hell no.

Furthermore, at least in the US, no treaty is in effect until it is ratified by the Senate, at which point all the elements of the treaty will be public and heavily debated down to the last comma.

It's great that Wikileaks is giving the world a heads-up view into what is being negotiated, but I don't understand why every Slashdot story about international treaties harps on "negotiated in secret" like that's unusual, or that a treaty can somehow take effect silently and invisibly.

I'm not sure whether you've ever tried influencing a non-binding agreement that was reached in diplomatic circles and which supposedly still needs to be ratified by politicians in public. I can tell you that by the time a completely negotiated deal ends up in a parliament, senate or council of ministers, there is an enormous amount of political pressure to approve it because of all of the efforts that went into negotiating that text. At that point, the negotiating parties have basically all said "yes, we agree with this and are willing to defend this text before our national politicians", and a very much used argument (that also carries a lot of weight) is then "we don't want to seem unreliable to our negotiation partners".

Sure, they may sometimes make a little bit of fuss about small details to "demonstrate" they're not just rubberstamping it, but actually completely changing positions on a matter of substance almost never happens (unless there is a huge public outcry, or a very big business interest). And even if that happens, it means all those negotiations were largely for nothing, which could have been solved by having more transparency in the first place.

Re:Not sure what the "secrecy" fuss is (1)

mbone (558574) | about a month ago | (#47294763)

This is not a treaty, it is an "agreement," which would rely on "Fast Track Authority" to get through Congress, as a simple bill requiring a 50% majority, non-filibusterable and not subject to amendment. The FTA rules are structured to not allow any meaningful debate in Congress.

As it happens, FTA has expired, and a simple way to kill this BS would be to kill the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014 now in Congress to revive it.

Re:Not sure what the "secrecy" fuss is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47295087)

"no treaty is in effect until it is ratified by the Senate"

The problem with that is the Senate will ratify the treaty so quickly, the public will not have chance to realize what has just happened. Then good luck getting change after a multi-country treaty has passed.

Wikileaks is doing a great job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47293985)

at self-promotion as usual. The "two year anniversary" is getting higher billing that whatever secret documents he managed to rustle up.

Re:Wikileaks is doing a great job (0)

Rei (128717) | about a month ago | (#47294013)

Come on, stop acting like Assange isn't the awesomeest awesome that ever awesomed; you know it's true.

Assange for Senate in 2016! This time, without allying with the neo-Nazis!

Signed On? (4, Interesting)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a month ago | (#47294063)

This is yet another salacious post to garner attention. Here are a few things wrong with the post.
1. It is impossible to sign on to an agreement that is still in negotiation.
2. It is not a secret agreement as it's existence is posted in many places [international.gc.ca] and some governments are asking for public consultation [international.gc.ca] . The final text will be made available a debated when, and if, the countries involved vote on it.
3. No international treaty is ever made public till the the final draft. Negotiators need to be free to negotiate.
4. Many of these agreements never get to final draft as agreement sometimes is never reached,
4. The agreement will not come into effect unless ratified by the duly elected governments of the countries involved. Until then no one has "signed on".

Perhaps the reason behind this post is that WikiLeaks is not trending enough.

Not technically (1)

bussdriver (620565) | about a month ago | (#47294229)

Things can be agreed upon before the official formal agreement happens. This is not unusual. Business meetings do this all the time before the lawyers get into the details of writing up the formal agreement which can literally take months to get a final deal.

This this means is that officials and governments have signed on to the basics the financial industry bribed them to do. It is more likely they will follow thru officially later one because of the power of the banksters over the world.

Also, I do not claim to understand how all governments function; some of the governments may be capable of officially "signing on" to open ended deals before they are formalized. A dictator for example could do something like this (and just as easily break their word later on;) a verbal general agreement would be possible.

Re:Not technically (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a month ago | (#47294287)

Until it is official any possible "signing on" is meaningless as it has no effect of current laws.

Re:Not technically (2)

erroneus (253617) | about a month ago | (#47294711)

And once it's official? What then? "Too late?!"

This is the point of all this. As these things are happening, they need to be stopped not after they are enacted. Do you prefer to prevent disease or cure it after it happens?

Re:Not technically (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a month ago | (#47295001)

Once it is official it still has to be voted on by the countries that might agree to it. The only think important to see is the final draft and not all the documents before it.

As these things are happening, they need to be stopped not after they are enacted.

So not knowing the contents of the document or what it's effect will be you are sure it is bad. That is not an informed decision. Wait till the documents are published, and they will be, then make a decision.

Do you prefer to prevent disease or cure it after it happens?

Do you prefer to pass judgement on an inaccurate, incomplete document or the final document.

Re:Not technically (2)

erroneus (253617) | about a month ago | (#47295019)

What they are trying to do is pretty obvious. The final will not differ greatly from the drafts. We have seen all of this before. Your wait and see attitude is what enables the creep to go forward. It's time to be done with that. It just doesn't work.

Re:Not technically (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a month ago | (#47295063)

Your post demonstrates the problem here, you are convinced "they need to be stopped" but you have no idea what it is "they" are doing. It's the government snoop's "if you have nothing to hide" accusation in reverse.

And once it's official? What then? "Too late?!"

In a democracy it's never too late, that's why the constitution has amendments. Really, just relax and wait until they get their shit together and tell you what they want, they're not getting it until they do so, so what's the problem?

Re:Signed On? (2)

WoOS (28173) | about a month ago | (#47294865)

The final text will be made available a debated when, and if, the countries involved vote on it.

Care to explain how much "debating" will go on on the - as you point out - final text? After all, the standard argument will be that "this has already been negatioated and cannot be changed".

And one of the main difference of these trade agreements nowadays to other treaties is that they try to change a huge set of existing laws along the way. Without discussion. And add extra-judical avenues for corporations to sue for compensation against existing laws, which basically annuls the whole legislative and judicative system.

"Two-year anniversary" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47294097)

Second. Second anniversary.

It's right there in the word itself!

Bildeburgers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47294103)

No mention about the Bildegurger group?

45 years ago today (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47294117)

Ron Santo (catcher, NY Mets) kicked up his heals on his way to the lockers this day, 45 years ago. That was June 22, 1969. That was the year of the "Amazing Mets". He drove a purple Caddie, the front-wheel drive Eldorado, and was often seen about New Yord City driving it.

The EU is a country? (1)

CurryCamel (2265886) | about a month ago | (#47294135)

Fifty countries around the globe have already signed [...] including [...] the European Union.

Who cares about a secret trade agreement? Of course there are secret agreements... But that the EU finally shows its true colours - this is the news!

Re:The EU is a country? (2)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a month ago | (#47294165)

Was that a mistake are creative editing? No country as "signed" considering the negotiations are not even complete yet. Calling it "signed on" was bad enough. Calling it "signed" is even worse.

Spin Doctors (2)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a month ago | (#47294145)

I love this quote from the article [nakedcapitalism.com] ;

Additionally, the current draft also includes language inferring that, upon the finishing of negotiations, the document will be kept classified for five full years.

It makes it sound like the annex will not be seen for 5 years after it is in effect.
Here is the reason from the actual document [wikileaks.org] ;

This document must be protected from unauthorized disclosure, but may be mailed or transmitted over unclassified e-mail or fax, discussed over unsecured phone lines, and stored on unclassified computer systems. It must be stored in a locked or secured building, room, or container.

It refers to the current document as it is a draft. The final document will not have this clause as it will need to be debated before it can be passed by each country. WikiLeaks is again playing on the general lack of understanding of how complex treaties are and need to be negotiated.

Re:Spin Doctors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47294381)

It refers to the current document as it is a draft. The final document will not have this clause as it will need to be debated before it can be passed by each country. WikiLeaks is again playing on the general lack of understanding of how complex treaties are and need to be negotiated.

Everyone knows that the Five Eyes would be listening in - secured lines my arse! They're once again trying to take unfair advantage. My favourite is the "Unauthorised disclosure". Who does this refer to? Who is the "owner" of this international agreement? Who must my country bend over and take it from? Who must we ask permission from, exactly? Why is my government not permitted (again, by who?) to discuss major policy with the people?

The "who?" questions are rhetorical, of course the answer is surprise, surprise: "The USA". Well, I have news for you: I am not beholden to the USA. I don't give a flying fuck about what some other country wants - I don't care if it's the USA, Russia, China or Gibraltar. I wish to see the document that my government is signing on my behalf. If that is uncomfortable for the party trying to establish this agreement, then this clues me in to the idea that there are major deceptions contained therein, benefitting the country pushing for the "silence" clause. ...as there are deceptions in your post:

There's a difference between "WikiLeaks" and "nakedcapitalism.com".
One is an organisation.
One is a commentary/social networking website.

You deliberately conflated the two, to try and discredit wikileaks.

Re:Spin Doctors (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47295049)

There is a difference -- Naked Capitalism is written by and populated by economists, traders, and other subject matter experts. Wikileaks is not. Since this is about a trade agreement, the economists would know a few things about that. It is not an attempt to discredit Wikileaks - economists aren't interested in conducting or hosting leaks, its not their field. They *can* however say something about the contents of this.

Re:Spin Doctors (1)

mbone (558574) | about a month ago | (#47294697)

This would not be a treaty - it should be, but it wouldn't. It would be an Act, nominally sent through Congress by Fast Track Authority (which has thankfully expired, although a bill to renew it is now in Congress). The entire point of FTA is to eliminate any meaningful debate in Congress.

Let's be blunt - these "agreements" invariably represent efforts by corporate interests to obtain in secret what they could never get through Congress or by the ballot box in public. They are bad for the world, bad for the United States, and bad for our constitutional system of governance

Re:Spin Doctors (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a month ago | (#47294973)

Even with FTA [wikipedia.org] Congress can still say no to the bill.

The fast track negotiating authority (also called trade promotion authority or TPA, since 2002) for trade agreements is the authority of the President of the United States to negotiate international agreements that the Congress can approve or disapprove but cannot amend or filibuster.

It is funny that if FTA was so bad then why did congress vote for it?

Re:Spin Doctors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47295117)

It is funny that if FTA was so bad then why did congress vote for it?

Rampant corruption.

it says "the US signed it" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47294367)

But a country can't fucking write.

Which treasonous fuck, who swore to uphold the constitution, signed this act of treason?

Snowden should be free, while the traitorous USA elected officials should all be hung for treason.

"deregulate global financial services markets" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47294433)

Does that mean less red tape and "suspicious activity" monitoring and such?

Or is this yet again just for the industry itself, and not for citizens?

Re:"deregulate global financial services markets" (1)

erroneus (253617) | about a month ago | (#47294683)

Regulation is always put in to prevent "stupid things" from happening. Remove the regulation and stupid things will resume.

WikiLeaks' transparency groups editor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47294543)

Why don't you just come out and say Edward Snowden? Jesus christ.

Oppose the BCTPA (1)

mbone (558574) | about a month ago | (#47294675)

The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014 [govtrack.us] is now in Congress to revive the expired "Fast Track Authority," and should be opposed by anyone against TPP, TISA, etc. I was originally supportive of Fast Track, but I think it has been badly abused and is dangerous to the constitutional separation of powers. It has expired; like Frankenstein's monster, it would be best if were not resurrected.

Steps to global conspiracy (2)

erroneus (253617) | about a month ago | (#47294677)

1. Negotiate secret deals to deregulate
2. Watch the collapse
3. Create one-world-currency-system
4. Profit! (for them) Enslavement! (for the rest of us)

Meanwhile, the people they hire to use guns and other enforcement measures are "just doing their jobs."

Re:Steps to global conspiracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47294851)

I fail to see the point of your point 3. With the recent financial crisis, it seems clear that one can proceed directly from 2 to 4, without having a "world currency", whatever that means.

Re:Steps to global conspiracy (1)

erroneus (253617) | about a month ago | (#47295069)

Multiple currencies means that currencies, and the nations backing them, compete and values will fluctuate against one another but, in theory, not terribly so. We can see the problems of the manipulations of the US dollar even now and the "QE" is still going on meaning they are continuing to devalue the dollar. Imagine that kind of scamsmanship on a 100% global scale?

A world currency means whoever controls the currency controls the world. There is no, and can be no, democracy there. There is none in the US where the privately owned and controlled Federal Reserve Bank system is concerned. And before you or anyone else says "but they are accountable to..." Yeah? Learn about the year-after-year-after-year continuing effort to do an audit on the Federal Reserve and see how far we have gotten. They AREN'T accountable to anyone as long as we cannot intervene, let alone review what they are doing.

Let's look at the Canadian example (5, Insightful)

sandbagger (654585) | about a month ago | (#47295065)

Canada was openly ridiculed by the US for not deregulating its financial industry right up until the financial disaster. By an large, Canada escaped disaster that plagued the other G8 countries in the banking meltdown.

So, we have recent proof that strict financial regulation works and yet they want to keep doubling down on deregulation?

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