Actually, none in the straight line we’re used to, as in his
NSA leaks. But connections are not always direct and occasionally, setting the
stage is vitally important to the play that follows. In this particular case,
the whistle was blown on a key portion of the secretive TPP ‘trade’ meetings by
another controversial guy, Julian Assange at Wikileaks.
This trade agreement (and I use the
word loosely, because less than half a dozen of its 26 chapters deal directly
with trade) has been under negotiation for a good long time. It didn’t raise
much in the way of eyebrows until lately. Who really pays attention to this
stuff in a crowded news cycle? Yet, flying well under the public radar, it’s a
highly secretive affair, one the United States Congress consistently demanded information
about, but can’t get. Can’t bloody get it
Penny Pritzker, the Secretary of
Commerce is negotiating the future of working America and will not tell the Congress what she’s up to. President Obama plans
to have a neat little package wrapped by New Year and is asking for ‘fast track’
congressional approval, without Congress knowing what’s in the box. Fast track
means no discussion or amendments—an up
or down vote.
That’s where, by my reckoning, the Snowden connection comes
in.
Believe him a traitor or a courageous whistle-blower, Edward
Snowden gave us a dark peek inside what a good many have suspected for years—our
government was telling us and the leaders
of the world
bald-faced lies about privacy issues, terrorism prevention, foreign-relations
and the run-up to two very expensive and fruitless foreign wars. Like it or not—and
the administration likes it not one bit– the evidence is on the table. We have
been and continue to be, consistently lied to by our elected officials.
Which rather elegantly sets the stage for the OZ-like theater
our President is about to unveil. The cast of characters includes a narrow
selection of country representatives from a dozen nations, as diverse as
Brunei, Japan, Singapore and the United States, but we Americans are the big
guys at the table. And all representatives
are sworn to secrecy, lest the facts get out.
“The
TPP is ostensibly intended to be a “high-standard” agreement
specifically aimed at emerging trade issues in the 21st century.[11] These
ongoing negotiations have drawn criticism and protest from the public, advocacy
groups, and elected officials, in part due to the secrecy of the negotiations,
the expansive scope of the agreement, and a number of controversial clauses in
drafts leaked to the public. On November 13, 2013, a complete draft of the
treaty’s Intellectual Property Rights chapter was published by WikiLeaks.”[1]
But there are
those who have access and they don’t need to be told to keep mum, they’ve
plenty of reasons to keep their coat collars up and dark glasses on. 
If ‘intellectual
property rights’ makes your eyes glaze over, think about controlled pricing and
access to food, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, energy, Hollywood movies, CDs,
free access to the internet, the offshoring of jobs, and, essentially the lowering of labor standards in America
to compete with the lowest cost provider anywhere
else
.
“There
is one exception to this wall of secrecy: a group of some 600 trade “advisers,”
dominated by representatives of big businesses, who enjoy privileged access to
draft texts and negotiators.”[2]
Big business, Wall Street, the film and pharmaceutical
industry is in the loop—you and I and
the United States Congress are out in the cold, looking in. Of course our
elected officials in the Congress have long been on the payroll of the
above-mentioned business interests, but this is beyond the pale. In the words
of Claude Rains (as Captain Renault in Casablanca),
“round up the usual suspects.” 
Do I have you attention now? Is TPP another nail in the
coffin of American jobs? If it isn’t,
then why the cloak-and-dagger secrecy?
“In
the years 2007 and 2008, candidate Obama indicated that he’d take a more
nuanced view than the absolutist one from Hollywood and other interests that
work relentlessly for total control over this increasingly vital part of our
economy and lives. But no clearer demonstration of the real White House view is
offered than a just-leaked draft of an international treaty that would, as many
had feared, create draconian new rights for corporate “owners” and
mean vastly fewer rights for the rest of us.”[3]
If TPP passes, you can’t even take these scoundrels to court
anymore under American law. This ‘trade agreement’ supersedes national laws and
allows them to sue any nation they
damned well please for loss of profits they claim they might have made, had national laws been followed. Constitutional
restrictions in our (or other) sovereign nations are circumvented as well.
Senator Elizabeth Warren is a hot ticket these days as
speaking as a public advocate, mostly on financial issues, but she’s made herself
heard on TPP as well. In a letter to the White House, Warren wrote,
“I
have heard the argument that transparency would undermine the administration’s
policy to complete the trade agreement because public opposition would be
significant. If transparency would lead to widespread public opposition to a
trade agreement, then that trade agreement should not be the policy of the
United States. I believe in transparency and democracy and I think the US Trade
Representative should too.”
A difficult position with which to argue and, I would note,
another ‘connection’ to the Edward Snowden saga. In both cases, TPP and the
Snowden leaks, the longer the debate stays out there without resolution, the
more public opinion swings in favor of transparency. 
A
2011 opinion poll showed the American public has moved from “broad opposition”
to “overwhelming opposition” toward NAFTA-style trade deals.[4]
 
We are ultimately a nation of public opinion. Or we are not and the word for that is
fascism or oligarchy, but it is certainly not republican democracy.

[1]
Wikipedia, Trans Pacific Partnership
[2] New
York Times, Obama’s Covert Trade Deal,
June 2, 2013
[3] The
Guardian UK, Thanks to Wikileaks, We See
Just How Bad TPP Trade Deal Is for Regular People
, Nov 14, 2013
[4]
Wikipedia, Trans-Pacific Partnership