…“Is that thing on?” gasped Barbara Weisel, U.S. Chief Negotiator at the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations, one millisecond after having just accused four U.S. senators, and 132 US congresspersons – including to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) who has, repeatedly, demanded to see a copy of the treaty – of lying to the American public! Now she spied the arch enemy of all political miscreants blinking menacingly on the white tablecloth right next to her: the voice recorder. Snatching-up this reporter’s voice recorder, she anxiously attempted to shut it off and/or erase the recording. “You can’t record this,” she continued still anxiously fidgeting with the gadget, obviously aware that she had been caught on tape in several very inflammatory, and by all prior reports fraudulent, accusations. She is employed by the US Congress. You would not know it to speak with her.
Twenty minutes earlier I had been chatting comfortably with Sierra Club Transportation Chairman, Mike Bullock, about TPP’s lack of transparency at the negotiations and the lack of media coverage – in the quiet of the Conference Room – now empty at the end of the day’s “Stakeholder Meeting.” I had been waiting for US Chief Negotiator Barbara Weisel, who had been dodging questions all while the hall was crowded to show up to meet with me for some prepared questions. Mike – thankfully – decided to join me with some questions of his own.
Short, diminutive, but feisty, Weisel, like the other delegates, was in attendance to aggressively put forward the soothing TPP rationales designed to quell all fears of global domination. Striding in from the dark-wood double doors at the far end of the hall along with her handler, Ms. Nkenge Harmon, she was prepared for a fight. She was not, however, prepared for the sharp sword of the truth. Nor, cutting-edge technology.
Very conveniently, Ms. Weisel entered our conversation at a time when we were talking about the lack of transparency regarding American and national sovereignty at the negotiations. So far, all U.S. senators and congressmen have been denied access to viewing any draft of the proposed treaty or attendance at the negotiations. In reaction, on June 24, 2012, four members of the Senate and next, on June 29, one hundred thirty-two members of Congress, in anticipation of the San Diego-hosted, 13th round of the TPP negotiations, sent formal letters to U.S. Trade Representative, Ron Kirk, demanding that America’s elected officials be allowed to participate in, and view draft copies of, the proposed, twenty-six chapters of the TPP terms regulations. These regulations will give multi-national corporations supreme power over US courts, corporations, and the laws and sovereignty of America and eleven other nations. In response, Weisel maintained that the American Public already has plenty of representation via the unelected US negotiators, despite all being employed by the multi-national corporations that have spawned TPP. She did not see this as a conflict of interest. She did, however, admit it was completely up to only these few U.S. corporate negotiators to get it right on behalf of the American public before the treaty is signed. When would that be? “Today?!” she suggested brightly, would be a good day for a signing ceremony…