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Behind Closed Doors

Behind Closed Doors TPPWith negotiations around TPP winding down, secrecy is at an all-time high.

At the Salt Lake City, Utah, round, only "chief negotiators and key experts" were at the table, even though negotiations covered a broad range of topics, including e-commerce, the environment, labor, financial services, intellectual property, investment, legal issues and more.

"Every time I think it's impossible for the TPP negotiations to become any less transparent, the U.S. Trade Representative proves me wrong," said Arthur Stamoulis, executive director of Citizens Trade Campaign. "The only thing about the TPP that's not a secret is who is stands to benefit: big corporations."

Over the three years of negotiations, unions and public interest groups, including CWA, Citizens Trade Campaign, Public Citizen, Sierra Club and others -- have been left in the dark.

And the few lawmakers who are permitted to read the draft texts are only permitted to see just a small part of the picture.

When Senator Ron Wyden -- chair of the Senate's Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs and Global Competitiveness -- sought access, he had to go down to the U.S. Trade Representative's offices, where he sat alone in a private room with a copy of the negotiating text. He was not allowed to make any copies or take notes. Wyden wasn't even allowed to bring a trade expert on his staff to look at the technical language, despite the fact that the staffer had obtained the necessary security credentials.

Afterwards, members of Congress have to keep their lips zipped about what they read.

Representative Alan Grayson, who viewed an edited version of the negotiation texts, told The Huffington Post the TPP is "a punch in the face to the middle class of America." He added, "But I'm not allowed to tell you why!"

Meanwhile, "stakeholders" like GE, Verizon, Chevron, PHRMA and Motion Picture Association of America -- essentially big business and trade groups -- get a seat at the table and full access to all the documents.

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