NEW YORK – WikiLeaks published Wednesday the highly secret negotiated text for the controversial Intellectual Property Rights chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, treaty the Obama administration has been negotiating behind closed doors, without congressional input or approval.
In February, WND first reported the Obama administration plans to ask Congress to grant fast-track authority to finalize the TPP treaty in an accelerated time frame. Congress would be limited to an up-or-down vote that would prevent it from modifying the treaty by amendment.
WikiLeaks reported the TPP is the “largest-ever economic treaty,” encompassing 12 participating nations representing more than 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product, or GDP. Current TPP negotiation member states include the United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei.
The WikiLeaks document release was timed ahead of the decisive TPP chief negotiators’ summit planned for Salt Lake City Nov. 19-23.
President Obama has announced his intention to sign the TPP treaty agreement by the end of December. The TPP is the frontrunner to the equally secret Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TIPP, between the United States and the European Union.
TIPP negotiations began in January. When the TPP and TIPP treaties are finalized, more than 60 percent of the global economy will be covered by the two treaties envisioned to eclipse national sovereignty with an overarching trade protocol administered internationally.
WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange stated: “The U.S. administration is aggressively pushing the TPP through the U.S. legislative process on the sly.”
The advanced draft of the Intellectual Property Rights Chapter, published by WikiLeaks Wednesday, provides the public with the fullest opportunity so far to familiarize themselves with the details and implications of the TPP.
According to the WikiLeaks statement accompanying the document release, the process of drafting and negotiating the treaty’s chapters has been shrouded in an unprecedented level of secrecy.
The press release notes:
Access to drafts of the TPP chapters is shielded from the general public. Members of the US Congress are only able to view selected portions of treaty-related documents in highly restrictive conditions and under strict supervision. It has been previously revealed that only three individuals in each TPP nation have access to the full text of the agreement, while 600 ’trade advisers’ – lobbyists guarding the interests of large US corporations such as Chevron, Halliburton, Monsanto and Walmart – are granted privileged access to crucial sections of the treaty text.
WikiLeaks stressed the 95-page, 30,000-word Intellectual Property Chapter lays out provisions for instituting a far-reaching, transnational legal and enforcement regime, modifying or replacing existing laws in TPP member states.
“The Chapter’s subsections include agreements relating to patents (who may produce goods or drugs), copyright (who may transmit information), trademarks (who may describe information or goods as authentic) and industrial design,” the WikiLeaks statement said.
The longest section of the Intellectual Property Chapter, titled “Enforcement,” is devoted to detailing new policing measures, with far-reaching implications for individual rights, civil liberties, publishers, Internet service providers and Internet privacy, as well as for the creative, intellectual, biological and environmental commons, WikiLeaks said.
Particular measures proposed include supranational litigation tribunals to which sovereign national courts are expected to defer but which have no human rights safeguards.
The TPP Intellectual Property Chapter states that the courts can conduct hearings with secret evidence.
When he released a draft of the Intellectual Property Chapter in May, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight Committee, issued a statement indicating his concern over the proposed language.
“At a time when the American people and Internet users all around the world are rightfully wary of any closed-door negotiations that could adversely impact their ability to freely and openly access the Internet, the Obama Administration continues to pursue a secretive, closed-door negotiating process for the Trans Pacific Partnership,” Issa said.
“I have decided to publish the intellectual property rights chapter of TPP in Madison so that the public can provide input to those negotiating this agreement, and to push this Administration – and the federal government as a whole – to be open, transparent and inclusive when it comes to international intellectual property rights agreements that have potentially serious consequences for the Internet community.”
In August, WND reported Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., warned against granting President Obama fast-track authority to push the TPP through Congress.
Paul said fast-track authority would violate the constitutional separation of powers by usurping the power of Congress to exercise independent judgment over trade agreements entered into as treaty obligations of the U.S.