Obama asserts Executive Privilege – but its a body count this time

Editor’s Note – Basically, by signing off on Executive Privilege, Obama and the White House damned themselves – they knew all along, and they were the ones who signed off on the Fast and Furious plan, and now the cover-up. This is not about a “blue dress”, nor what the meaning of the word “is”, is, nor is it about fired US Attorneys – this one involves a body count.

The White House now has blood on its hands now. They lied, people died.

The Attorney General of Mexico has filed suit, and the bodies in Mexico and that of Brian Terry nullify any claim to Executive Privilege. The public’s right to know, the Terry family’s rights, far supersede any so-called privilege. There may not be enough time for impeachment, and we all know the Democrats in the Senate would never convict anyone, but they all MUST GO NOW!

Obama Executive Privilege Asserted Over Fast And Furious Documents

Huffington Post

President Barack Obama has asserted executive privilege in response to requests made by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, who has embarked on a controversial investigation into the Department of Justice’s Operation Fast and Furious gun-walking program.

Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole addressed Issa in a letter on Wednesday morning.

“We regret that we have arrived at this point, after the many steps we have taken to address the Committee’s concerns and to accommodate the Committee’s legitimate oversight interests regarding Operation Fast and Furious,” he wrote. “Although we are deeply disappointed that the Committee appears intent on proceeding with a contempt vote, the Department remains willing to work with the Committee to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution of the outstanding issues.”

The invocation of executive privilege allows the president to defy requests and subpoenas by members of the legislative and judicial branches for information the White House deems sensitive. Obama’s decision will allow him to refuse to provide certain documents pertaining to the Fast and Furious program.

Attorney General Eric Holder, who had met with Issa the day before in an attempt to reach an agreement on how many and which documents related to Fast and Furious he would turn over, had formally written Obama requesting that he exercise executive privilege. A copy of that letter is below.

Issa was scheduled to hold a contempt vote on Wednesday morning. A committee aide told Reuters that he would proceed with the vote even after Obama’s action. Issa later declared that the decision to assert executive privilege “falls short of any reason to delay today’s proceedings.”

In an email to The Huffington Post, an administration official noted that former President George W. Bush asserted executive privilege six times, while former President Bill Clinton did it 14 times. This is the first time Obama has exercised this authority. But while that may be the case, the Republican National Committee was quick to point out that then-candidate Obama was quite critical of the practice when it was done by Bush.

Read the document here:

AG letter

Obama trade deal usurps more power, breaks more promises

Editor’s Note – Once again the Obama administration is circumventing Congress and the American people. The ‘king’ keeps adding to his power, and if not for leaks, we may never have known. The Executive Branch grows again…

Here is the document that was leaked: Agreement Terms Document

Obama Trade Document Leaked, Revealing New Corporate Powers And Broken Campaign Promises

By Zach Carter – Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — A critical document from President Barack Obama’s free trade negotiations with eight Pacific nations was leaked online early Wednesday morning, revealing that the administration intends to bestow radical new political powers upon multinational corporations, contradicting prior promises.

The leaked document has been posted on the website of Public Citizen, a long-time critic of the administration’s trade objectives. The new leak follows substantial controversy surrounding the secrecy of the talks, in which some members of Congress have complained they are not being given the same access to trade documents that corporate officials receive.

Obama with the Pacific area leaders of the new free trade agreement

“The outrageous stuff in this leaked text may well be why U.S. trade officials have been so extremely secretive about these past two years of [trade] negotiations,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch in a written statement.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has been so incensed by the lack of access as to introduce legislation requiring further disclosure. House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has gone so far as to leak a separate document from the talks on his website. Other Senators are considering writing a letter to Ron Kirk, the top trade negotiator under Obama, demanding more disclosure.

The newly leaked document is one of the most controversial of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. It addresses a broad sweep of regulations governing international investment and reveals the Obama administration’s advocacy for policies that environmental activists, financial reform advocates and labor unions have long rejected for eroding key protections currently in domestic laws.

Under the agreement currently being advocated by the Obama administration, American corporations would continue to be subject to domestic laws and regulations on the environment, banking and other issues. But foreign corporations operating within the U.S. would be permitted to appeal key American legal or regulatory rulings to an international tribunal. That international tribunal would be granted the power to overrule American law and impose trade sanctions on the United States for failing to abide by its rulings.

The terms run contrary to campaign promises issued by Obama and the Democratic Party during the 2008 campaign.

“We will not negotiate bilateral trade agreements that stop the government from protecting the environment, food safety, or the health of its citizens; give greater rights to foreign investors than to U.S. investors; require the privatization of our vital public services; or prevent developing country governments from adopting humanitarian licensing policies to improve access to life-saving medications,” reads the campaign document.

Yet nearly all of those vows are violated by the leaked Trans-Pacific document. The one that is not contravened in the present document — regarding access to life-saving medication — is in conflict with a previously leaked document on intellectual property (IP) standards.

“Bush was better than Obama on this,” said Judit Rius, U.S. manager of Doctors Without Borders Access to Medicines Campaign, referring to the medication rules. “It’s pathetic, but it is what it is. The world’s upside-down.”

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative insists that while broad standards require many medical patents and IP rules that would increase the price of medications, the U.S. intends to work with countries involved in the Trans-Pacific talks to ensure that the agreement does not restrict access to life-saving drugs.

USTR was not immediately available to comment on the newly leaked investment chapter of the Trans-Pacific deal, and has previously stated that it cannot comment on the terms of an allegedly leaked document.

That statement is belied somewhat by recent American efforts in other international negotiations to establish controversial medical patents that grant companies long-term monopolies on life-saving medications. Those monopolies increase drug prices, which impede access to medications, particularly in developing nations. The World Health Organization and dozens of nonprofit public health groups have objected to the standards sought by the Obama administration. Two United Nations groups recently urged global governments not to agree to trade terms currently being advocated by the Obama administration, on the grounds that such rules would hurt public health.

Such foreign investment standards have also come under fire at home, from both conservative sovereignty purists and progressive activists for the potential to hamper domestic priorities implemented by democratically elected leaders. The North American Free Trade Agreement, passed by Congress in 1993, and a host of subsequent trade pacts granted corporations new powers that had previously been reserved for sovereign nations and that have allowed companies to sue nations directly over issues.

While the current trade deal could pose a challenge to American sovereignty, large corporations headquartered in the U.S. could potentially benefit from it by using the same terms to oppose the laws of foreign governments. If one of the eight Pacific nations involved in the talks passes a new rule to which an American firm objects, that U.S. company could take the country to court directly in international tribunals.

Public Citizen challenged the independence of these international tribunals, noting that “The tribunals would be staffed by private sector lawyers that rotate between acting as ‘judges’ and as advocates for the investors suing the governments,” according to the text of the agreement.

In early June, a tribunal at the World Bank agreed to hear a case involving similar foreign investment standards, in which El Salvador banned cyanide-based gold mining on the basis of objections from the Catholic Church and environmental activists. If the World Bank rules against El Salvador, it could overturn the nation’s domestic laws at the behest of a foreign corporation.

Speaking to the environmental concerns raised by the leaked document, Margrete Strand Rangnes, Labor and Trade Director for the Sierra Club, an environmental group said, “Our worst fears about the investment chapter have been confirmed by this leaked text … This investment chapter would severely undermine attempts to strengthen environmental law and policy.”

Basic public health and land-use rules would be subject to challenge before an international tribunal, as would bank regulations at capital levels that might be used to stymie bank runs or financial crises. The IMF has advocated the use of such capital controls, which would be prohibited under the current version of the leaked trade pact. Although several countries have proposed exceptions that would allow them to regulate speculative financial bets, the U.S. has resisted those proposals, according to Public Citizen.

Trans-Pacific negotiations have been taking place throughout the Obama presidency. The deal is strongly supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the top lobbying group for American corporations. Obama’s Republican opponent in the 2012 presidential elections, Mitt Romney, has urged the U.S. to finalize the deal as soon as possible.

This post has been updated to include comment from the Sierra Club.