Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Stealth Corporate Coup d'Etat
By Stephen Lendman
Obama and other Washington extremists support an alphabet soup of federal and international freedom-destroying measures.

SOPA, PIPA, CISPA, ACTA, and now TPP are stealth pro-corporate, anti-populist hellish schemes.

Two previous articles by this writer called TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) ACTA 2.0 and a trade deal from hell. Another one said ACTA is worse than SOPA and PIPA.

Public Citizen's Lori Wallach heads its Global Trade Watch division. It monitors destructive trade deals like TPP.

On June 27, she headlined her Nation magazine article "NAFTA on Steroids," saying:

TPP, like other destructive trade deals, is being secretly negotiated. Most people never heard of it. Media scoundrels ignore it. Whatever corporations want they support.

TPP was "cleverly misbranded," said Wallach. In 2008, Bush officials initiated discussions. They continue "under the radar." By late 2009, Obama picked up where Bush left off. He backs everything he supported and then some.

He wants virtual total corporate empowerment. "Think of the TPP as a stealthy delivery mechanism for policies that could not survive public scrutiny," said Wallach.

It provides Trojan horse cover for "grandiose new rights and privileges for corporations and permanent constraints on government regulation."

It favors investors at the expense of public health, food safety, clean air and water, sovereign control of resources, land use, energy, and virtually everything else that smells money, power and privileges afforded both.

"The stakes are extremely high because TPP may well be the last 'trade' agreement Washington negotiates." If enacted, other countries can join. If enough do, it'll be a global "NAFTA on steroids."

Member countries will sacrifice national sovereignty. Their laws, regulations and rights will be subordinated to TPP rules. Their use of tax revenues will also be restricted. Buy America and similar national priorities will end.

Rule-breakers will face TPP tribunal lawsuits and sanctions. Corporations will be empowered to sue countries outside their domestic courts. Private sector attorneys will become judges and juries.

TPP is an anti-fair trade measure. Trade is its least important feature. Washington has plenty of deals with other countries. TPP is about raw, unchallenged, supranational corporate power.

Obama entered office promising transparency. Instead, he exceeded the worst of Bush and then some. His administration is America's most secretive ever.

He's done more harm to more people in more ways than any of his predecessors in a comparable time period. Imagine what he plans in a second term.

He wanted TPP completed this year. Opposition to extreme provisions slowed things down. Australia said it won't accept a parallel court system.

Along with New Zealand, it also rejected Washington's drug giants empowerment provision. If enacted, it'll let them challenge sovereign "medicine formularies' pricing decisions." They let other countries charge much lower prices.

Every country rejected extending drug patents. Many others won't accept Washington's proposal to forbid countries from using "capital controls, taxes, or other macro-prudential measures to limit" destructive financial speculation.

Nonetheless, most TPP provisions were accepted. Corporations want total empowerment. National sovereignty and democratic freedoms are on the chopping block for elimination. The stakes are that high.

On August 21, the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) asked "What Is Wrong With the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)." Nothing's right about it. That's what's wrong.

EFF has been fighting it since introduced in 2008. "This agreement," it says, "poses a great risk to users' freedoms and access to information on a global scale" plus a whole lot more.

If enacted, its secret provisions assure destruction of freedoms most people take for granted. On August 24, EFF headlined, "TPP Creates Legal Incentives for ISPs to Police the Internet. What Is At Risk? Your Rights," saying:

What's known about TPP was leaked. What's also worrisome is what remains secret and how much more damage is being secretly negotiated or already agreed on.

Besides what was discussed above, TPP wants ISPs to become online copyright protection enforcement cops. In the process, it wants Internet freedom and innovation destroyed. Its framework exceeds destructive ACTA provisions. It permits:

(1) "Three-strikes policies and laws." They'll require "Internet intermediaries to terminate their users' Internet access on repeat allegations of copyright infringement."

(2) Internet intermediary empowerment "to filter all Internet communications for potentially copyright-infringing material."

(3) ISPs to "block access to websites that allegedly infringe or facilitate copyright infringement."

(4) Enforcement rules for "intermediaries to disclose the identities of their customers to IP rights holders on an allegation of copyright infringement."

TPP is a freedom destroying deal from hell. Instead of driving a stake through its heart and killing it, negotiations are proceeding toward enactment.

ISP enforcement of copyrights alone "poses a serious threat to free speech on the Internet." It renders open platforms for user-generated content "economically untenable."

Caution and conservative content will replace free and open commentaries and interchanges of thoughts and ideas.

Online takedown requirements "open the door to abuse." Copyright claimants can "trump the judicial system." They can get material they find offensive removed. Even delaying its publishing strikes a serious blow to free expression.

TPP also includes a "side-letter." It's an "annexed" agreement. It binds countries to strict procedures. They let copyright owners control what's published and what's not. They become thought control gatekeepers.

These type rules "are not only bad public policy, but have the potential to impinge on national sovereignty." They'll impose non-transparency. National laws will be affected. Extrajudicial authority will be empowered.

One size fits all will bind member countries to straightjacket rules. "TPP's safe guards are not safe." They may promote extension of ISPs' secondary liability. Corporate bosses crave it. They'll have rights at the expense of online freedom.

EFF says "the UN and European Court of Justice agree." Human rights are at stake. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will become null and void. It states:

"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

EFF says it's essential to let people hold opinions "without interference." It's vital they're able "to seek, receive and impart information." It's critically important to have policies that don't compromise personal freedoms or "impose liability on Internet intermediaries."

They're not judges and juries. They're service providers. They attract and keep customers by serving them responsibly. Making them corporate cops is unconscionable.

Giving private business power over sovereign nations means freedom's last breath has been drawn in countries agreeing to these oppressive rules.

EFF and similar organizations did heroic work beating SOPA and PIPA. They made many nations anti-ACTA. Plunging a dagger in TPP's heart is now essential. Ordinary people can do plenty to help.

When freedom is on the line, mass support must save it. There's still time, but it's running out fast. Learn the facts. Know the stakes. Tell others, and join a struggle too important to lose.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at

His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"

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