President Bush with the leaders of Mexico and Canada in New Orleans last year (WND photo)
NEW YORK – President Obama is continuing President George W. Bush’s effort to advance North American integration with a public-relations makeover calculated to place the program under the radar of public opinion and to deflect concerns about border security and national sovereignty.
The Obama administration has “rebranded” and “refocused” the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, or SPP, to advance the Bush administration’s agenda of North American integration under the rubric of the “North American Leaders Summit,” a less controversial banner, according to confidential sources in the U.S. Department of Commerce and State Department who agreed to speak with WND only if their comments were kept off the record.
As WND reported in August, the White House offered few details to the press in advance of the most recent North American Leaders Summit held in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Moreover, the Guadalajara summit was reduced to a one-day meeting, whereas all previous SPP trilateral summits had been two-day events.
Sources confirmed to WND that the SPP is now being directed from within the White House, as reflected by a new blog posted on the White House website entitled “The North American Leaders Summit.” The site is intended to replace SPP.gov as the official website documenting trilateral government activities going forward under the rebranded name.
The SPP website maintained by the Department of Commerce now has a disclaimer that reads: “This website is an archive for SPP documents and will not be updated.”
Sources also confirmed the SPP mission was “refocused” at the Guadalajara summit Aug. 10 to emphasize three themes: (1) North American citizen security; (2) North American economic competitiveness; and (3) North American energy policy and climate change agenda.
President Obama, left, Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon, right, and Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper, center, at the leader’s trilateral meeting at the Cabanas Cultural Center in Guadalajara, Mexico, Aug. 10 (White House photo)
The refocusing resulted from a think-tank analysis that argued the trilateral bureaucratic working groups created under SPP did not pursue enough “big picture” agenda items to make a positive public relations impact on the national voters in the United States, Mexico and Canada.
Sources in the State Department confirmed that the more than 20 trilateral working groups will continue under the North American Leader’s Summit, with bureaucrats from the three nations assigned from different agencies within each government. The groups will work on a North American agenda “integrating and harmonizing” administrative rules across a broad range of policy areas ranging from transportation to border security, health, e-commerce, movement of goods, environment, energy and financial services.
WND was unable to obtain a copy of the intra-governmental organizational chart of the North American Leaders Summit to determine if the working group organizational chart was identical to the one WND obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request and published in the 2007 book “The Late Great USA: The Coming Merger with Mexico and Canada.”.
SPP organizational chart
Sources in the State Department also confirmed that the North American Competitiveness Council will continue to operate under the North American Leaders Summit.
WND has previously reported that a multinational business agenda drove much of the trilateral working group activity under the SPP, with the North American Competitiveness Council serving as a closed-door adviser made up of 30 business leaders hand-picked without congressional approval or confirmation from the U.S., Mexico and Canada by the chambers of commerce in each nation.
WND also reported that the rebranding of the SPP into the more innocuous-sounding North American Leaders Summit began at the fourth annual summit of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America hosted by President Bush in New Orleans in April 2008, when the official logo of the conference dropped the SPP designation.
WND has previously reported that Robert A. Pastor, the American University professor who for more than a decade has been a major proponent of building a North American Community, has declared the SPP “is dead,” largely due to the efforts to expose the SPP’s North American integration agenda.
WND has also reported that President Obama has actively backtracked on his campaign promises to renegotiate NAFTA to get provisions more favorable to American workers.
During the presidential campaign, Obama was forced to fire from his campaign an important economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee, after reporters learned Goolsbee – a University of Chicago economics professor – had traveled to Canada to reassure Canadians that campaign promises to renegotiate NAFTA were just empty rhetoric.
In the Ohio and Pennsylvania Democratic Party primaries, candidate Obama had pledged to renegotiate NAFTA as part of his appeal to workers in the states that have lost manufacturing jobs under the free trade agreements negotiated by Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush.
Now, Goolsbee is back in the White House, having taken a leave of absence from the University of Chicago after President Obama appointed him to serve as chief economist and staff director of the newly created Presidential Economic Recovery Advisory Board, chaired by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volker.
Obama also appointed Goolsbee to the Council of Economic Advisors, or CEA, which is charged with assisting in the development of White House economic policy.