William New, the guy who runs the excellent IP Watch website has been trying to find out more about the TPP agreement for quite some time. Working with some students from Yale's Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic, New filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for TPP-related documents. The USTR waited nearly a year to respond (well beyond the 20 working days required by the law), and then told New that they weren't providing the documents, saying that the draft text of the TPP is classified as "national security information."

Yeah. A draft of a trade agreement that will impact us all, but is being negotiated in secret by the USTR and a small group of corporate lobbyists, is "national security" information.

In response, New and the MFIA clinic have now filed a lawsuit against the government concerning the failure to provide this information. I have no idea how the lawsuit will turn out, but it seems likely that the TPP text will be revealed as "finalized" before anything really happens with the lawsuit. Still, hopefully they'll be able to argue that they were seeing the draft texts, rather than the final agreement, and set some sort of precedent.

When asked about the lawsuit over the near total lack of transparency, the USTR's spokesperson Carol Guthrie repeated the same completely bogus talking point she sends to everyone (she's sent it to me in the past as well about other TPP issues):

The reality is that TPP negotiations have been more transparent and consultative than any U.S. trade agreement in history while maintaining the confidentiality appropriate for a government-to-government negotiation. Releasing internal deliberative documents would undermine U.S. leverage in negotiations and impair our ability to pursue the strongest possible outcomes on issues ranging from labor and environmental protections to market access for U.S. goods and services.

This statement is as obnoxious as it is misleading...

Full story: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/201...-request.shtml