“Sentence First, Verdict Afterwards”: The Alice in Wonderland World of Fast-tracked Secret Trade Agreements

`Let the jury consider their verdict,’ the King said, for about the twentieth time that day.

`No, no!’ said the Queen. `Sentence first–verdict afterwards.’

`Stuff and nonsense!’ said Alice loudly. `The idea of having the sentence first!’

`Hold your tongue!’ said the Queen, turning purple.

`I won’t!’ said Alice.

`Off with her head!’ the Queen shouted at the top of her voice.

                    — Lewis Carroll, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”

Fast-track authority is being sought in the Senate this week for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), along with the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) and any other such trade agreements coming down the pike in the next six years. The terms of the TPP and the TiSA are so secret that drafts of the negotiations are to remain classified for four years or five years, respectively, after the deals have been passed into law. How can laws be enforced against people and governments who are not allowed to know what was negotiated?

The TPP, TiSA and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (or TTIP, which covers Europe) will collectively encompass three-fourths of the world’s GDP; and they ultimately seek to encompass nearly 90 percent of GDP. Despite this enormous global impact, fast-track authority would allow the President to sign the deals before their terms have been made public, and send implementing legislation to Congress that cannot be amended or filibustered and is not subject to the constitutional requirement of a two-thirds treaty vote.

While the deals are being negotiated, lawmakers can see their terms only under the strictest secrecy, and they can be subjected to criminal prosecution for revealing those terms. What we know of them comes only through WikiLeaks. The agreements are being treated as if they were a matter of grave national security, yet they are not about troop movements or military strategy. Something else is obviously going on.

The bizarre, unconstitutional, blatantly illegal nature of this enforced secrecy was highlighted in a May 15th article by Jon Rappoport, titled “What Law Says the Text of the TPP Must Remain Secret?” He wrote:

It seems like a case of mass hypnosis. . . .

Members of Congress are scuttling around like weasels, claiming they can’t disclose what’s in this far-reaching, 12-nation trade treaty.

They can go into a sealed room and read a draft, but they can’t copy pages, and they can’t tell the public what they just read.

Why not?

If there is a US law forbidding disclosure, name the law.

Can you recall anything in the Constitution that establishes secret treaties?

Is there a prior treaty that states the text of all treaties can be hidden from the people?

To Congressmen who say they cannot reveal what is in a treaty that will adversely affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people, Rappoport says:

Wrong. You’re lying. You can reveal secret text. In fact, it’s your duty. Otherwise, you’re guilty of cooperating in a RICO criminal conspiracy.

A Corporate Coup d’État

What is going on was predicted by David Korten in his 1995 blockbuster, When Corporations Rule The World. Catherine Austin Fitts calls it a “corporate coup d’état.”

This corporate coup includes the privatization and offshoring of the judicial function delegated to the US court system in the Constitution, through Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions that strengthen existing ISDS  procedures.

As explained in The Economist, ISDS gives foreign firms a special right to apply to a secretive tribunal of highly paid corporate lawyers for compensation whenever the government passes a law to do things that hurt corporate profits — such things as discouraging smoking, protecting the environment or preventing a nuclear catastrophe. Arbitrators are paid $600-700 an hour, giving them little incentive to dismiss cases. The secretive nature of the arbitration process and the lack of any requirement to consider precedent give wide scope for creative judgments – the sort of arbitrary edicts satirized by Lewis Carroll in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

To date, the highest ISDS award has been for $2.3 billion to Occidental Oil Company against the government of Ecuador over its termination of an oil-concession contract, although the termination was apparently legal. Under the TPP, however, even larger and more unpredictable judgments can be anticipated, since the sort of “investment” it protects includes not just “the commitment of capital or other resources” but “the expectation of gain or profit.” That means the rights of corporations extend not merely to their factories and other “capital” but to the profits they expect to receive. Just the threat of a massive damage award for impairing “expected corporate profits” could be enough to discourage prospective legislation by lawmakers.

The Trade in Services Agreement adds additional barriers to proposed legislation.  TiSA involves 51 countries, including every advanced economy except the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). The deal would liberalize global trade in services covering close to 80% of the US economy, including financial services, healthcare, education, engineering, telecommunications, and many more. It would restrict how governments can manage their public laws, and it could dismantle and privatize state-owned enterprises, turning those services over to the private sector. It would also block the emerging trend to return privatized services to the public sector, by limiting or prohibiting governments from creating or reestablishing public utilities and other “uncompetitive” forms of service delivery.

It seems that the TPP, TTIP and TiSA are not about the sort of “free trade” that would free local businesses to sell abroad. They are about freeing international corporations from the government regulation necessary to protect the economy, the people, and the environment. They are about preserving privatized monopolies and preventing competition from the public sector. And they are about moving litigation offshore into private arbitrary tribunals – the sort of tribunal that might have lost Alice her head, if she had not awakened from her bizarre dream.

Urge your local representative to vote “no” on Fast Track. For more information, see —

Flush the TPP

The Citizens Trade Campaign

Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch

Eyes on Trade

________________

Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books including the best-selling Web of Debt. Her latest book, The Public Bank Solution, explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her 300+ blog articles are at EllenBrown.com.

44 Responses

  1. […] Ellen Brown Writer, Dandelion Salad The Web of Debt Blog June 21, […]

    • The TTiP is the biggest threat to democracy since the fall of ancient Greece. This last time that democracy was wiped out, it took well over a thousand years to return! If you were to design a way to abolish democracy by stealth, what better way than the TPiP.

      Imagine that a modern day Hitler came to power and TTiP was in place. We would have to stand by helplessly as corporation after corporation supplied the dictatorship with armaments, torture appliances and all the other equipment of the tyrants’ trade. Would a tyrant be able to be actually brought down under these conditions?
      You want disarmament? Forget about it under the TTiP. You want to stop drone strikes? Forget about stopping the export of drones. What about brain implants to control human thought? Gun control? Think about any abhorrent product- forget about abolishing it, or even controlling it under the TTiP.

  2. […] “Sentence First, Verdict Afterwards”: The Alice in Wonderland World of Fast-tracked Secret Trade… […]

  3. Wonderful article today…Spot ON Ellen!
    I sent it to 40 friends, associates!

  4. JUST wondering what these parasites will do when they control everything and there nobody to rob.

  5. After so many months of people knowing about these secret trade deals, the American people have yet to be given the complete texts of the deals for their consideration. Nothing less than undemocratic, criminal, traitorous and treasonous.

    • So, what else is new:

      “We’ve got to pass the bill to find out what’s in it”
      Recall the classic, Lucy ~ Charlie Brown and the Football ruse?:
      No matter what our stance is on govt health care,
      This remark by Nancy ‘Lucy’ Pelosi, will go down in history as one of the sleezyist political tricks ever.
      Many have rationalized her action by believing the end justifies the
      means but this is a major m.o. of the Uber Elites, executed time and again down thru history. “Ordo ab chao” and Problem~Reaction~Solution.
      Now, Congress on both sides, (more Rebubs this time), is pulling off the same ol’ trick. Will we never learn? When will we begin to recognize the power and responsibility of the 99 percenters?

    • the so-called american people don t care .they can t be bothered with details.they are to busy with their devices thumbing their way on social media.

  6. time to form trade federations for example, on the Bitcoin blockchain: http://sawconcepts.com/index/id10.html “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Dan Millman Way of the Peaceful Warrior

  7. […] Source: WEB OF DEBT BLOG `Let the jury consider their verdict,’ the King said, for about the twentieth time that day. `No, no!’ said the Queen. `Sentence first–verdict afterwards.’ `Stuff and nonsense!’ said Alice loudly. `The idea of having the sentence first!’ `Hold your tongue!’ said the Queen, turning purple. `I won’t!’ said Alice. `OffRead more… […]

  8. As always I enjoy your articles. I hope all is well.

    “criminal prosecution” – WOW! What happened to that thing call “legislative immunity”?

  9. Reed bed technology has a low price of entry and minimal daily functional and
    upkeep costs. In other words, structures would be
    designed or modified to collect the natural rainfall that falls onto the property, purify it and then store it in cisterns until the water is needed by the occupants
    of the building. These microbes will settle in the tank and
    digest the waste in the tank.

  10. Sounds like negotiation of the Ferengi rules of Acquisition.

  11. […] “Sentence First, Verdict Afterwards”: The Alice in Wonderland World of Fast-tracked Secret Trade… – by Ellen Brown, EllenBrown.com – “The TPP, TiSA and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (or TTIP, which covers Europe) will collectively encompass three-fourths of the world’s GDP; and they ultimately seek to encompass nearly 90 percent of GDP. Despite this enormous global impact, fast-track authority would allow the President to sign the deals before their terms have been made public, and send implementing legislation to Congress that cannot be amended or filibustered and is not subject to the constitutional requirement of a two-thirds treaty vote.” […]

  12. […] Jun 2015   | Campaign Updates By Ellen Brown Global Research, June 22, 2015 Web of Debt Blog 21 June […]

  13. Reblogged this on BDBinc and commented:
    Jon Rappoport quote what law says the text of the TPP must remain secret?
    “Members of Congress are scuttling around like weasels, claiming they can’t disclose what’s in this far-reaching, 12-nation trade treaty.
    They can go into a sealed room and read a draft, but they can’t copy pages, and they can’t tell the public what they just read.
    Why not?
    If there is a US law forbidding disclosure, name the law.
    Can you recall anything in the Constitution that establishes secret treaties?
    Is there a prior treaty that states the text of all treaties can be hidden from the people?
    To Congressmen who say they cannot reveal what is in a treaty that will adversely affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people, Rappoport says:
    Wrong. You’re lying. You can reveal secret text. In fact, it’s your duty. Otherwise, you’re guilty of cooperating in a RICO criminal conspiracy.”

  14. Dear Ellen,
    Thank you so much for your important work.
    Keep up your good work.
    You be well.
    Yours, Reed Kinney

  15. […] “Sentence First, Verdict Afterwards”: The Alice in Wonderland World of Fast-tracked Secret Trade… […]

  16. […] But we leave it to Ellen Brown to sum up just what this “sentence first, verdict afterwards” bill is really all about… a corporate coup d’etat… […]

  17. […] But we leave it to Ellen Brown to sum up just what this "sentence first, verdict afterwards" bill is really all about… a corporate coup d'etat… […]

  18. […] hat tip: Ellen Brown, Web of Debt Blog […]

  19. […] go to President Obama’s desk where it will be signed into law. This is nothing less than a corporate coup d’etat whose endgame is a total defunding of state and federal government via erosion of the taxpayer base […]

  20. […] treaty, TPP, is a classified national security secret that cannot be disclosed to the public, even four years or more years after it is passed into law. Secrecy keeps Americans […]

  21. […] But we leave it to Ellen Brown to sum up just what this “sentence first, verdict afterwards” bill is really all about… a corporate coup d’etat… […]

  22. […] But we leave it to Ellen Brown to sum up just what this “sentence first, verdict afterwards” bill is really all about… a corporate coup d’etat… […]

  23. […] treaty, TPP, is a classified national security secret that cannot be disclosed to the public, even four years or more after it is passed into law. Secrecy keeps Americans […]

  24. […] treaty, TPP, is a classified national security secret that cannot be disclosed to the public, even four years or more after it is passed into law. Secrecy keeps Americans […]

  25. […] But we leave it to Ellen Brown to sum up just what this “sentence first, verdict afterwards” bill is really all about… a corporate coup d’etat… […]

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