By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese | Truthout | October 2, 2013
This week, President Obama will attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Coordination (APEC) meeting in Bali, Indonesia, where he is expected to announce his goal of having the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) signed into law by the end of 2013. Obama will host a meeting of the leaders of the TPP nations during the APEC conference.
The Obama administration has been negotiating the TPP in secret for more than three years. Unlike past trade agreements, the text of the TPP is classified, and members of Congress have restricted access to it. If they do read the text, they are not allowed to copy it or discuss any specifics of it. However, more than 600 corporate advisers have direct access to the text on their computers.
The final formal round of negotiations was held in Brunei this August, and since then, there have been informal meetings to try and finalize sections of the agreement. As far as the president is concerned, the TPP is entering the home stretch. All he needs now is for Congress to vote to grant him fast track, also known as trade promotion authority, and it’s a done deal. The facts show that the president may be deluding himself or trying to fool everyone else.
This is because the TPP goes far beyond a trade deal. Only five of the 29 chapters contain provisions related to trade. The other chapters consist of provisions related to patent protections, investor state rights and finance deregulation, among others. The TPP is a backdoor corporate power grab to advance the stalled WTO agenda. Or as Sachie Mizohata writes in Asia Times, “The TPP is a Trojan horse, branded as a ‘free trade’ agreement, but having nothing to do with fair and equitable treatment. In reality, it is precisely ‘a wish list of the 1% – a worldwide corporate power’.”
We expect the president to return from Bali with increased enthusiasm to push for fast track. To accompany this push will be the usual misinformation campaign coming from supporters of the TPP. To prepare the public for the expected propaganda, we will look at what is being said and provide facts to counter their arguments.
As far as some members of Congress are concerned, as well as hundreds of civil society groups and a growing number of US residents, fast track and the TPP are not going to slide through Congress smoothly. Opposition to the TPP is growing as more people come to understand that the TPP is a rigged corporate trade deal and not fair trade that respects the needs of people and the planet.
What’s Wrong with Fast Track?
For most of the past 200 years, Congress negotiated trade policy and wrote the laws to oversee trade, as required in the Constitution’s Commerce Clause. This power was first transferred to the executive office when Nixon was granted fast track in 1974 as part of his consolidation of presidential power. Fast track expired in 2007. Only 16 trade agreements have been passed using fast track, and some of these were the most unpopular and controversial pacts such as the WTO and NAFTA, signed by President Clinton.
The previous fast track legislation required the president to submit both the trade agreement and implementing legislation to Congress for approval. According to a 2011 report by the Congressional Research Services, “The fast-track authority provides that Congress will consider trade agreement implementing bills within mandatory deadlines, with a limitation on debate and without amendment. . .” In other words, fast track permits the president to negotiate an entire trade agreement over many years and then present it to Congress for an up or down vote within a short time period (60 to 90 days), with debate limited to 20 hours and no amendments.
Fast track severely undermines the transparent and democratic process required to ensure that the full implications of the agreement are understood and are acceptable. Trade agreements require that laws, even down to the local level, be changed to be in compliance with provisions in them. For example, when the WTO was passed, which was fast tracked despite having been negotiated for over 10 years and containing thousands of pages, most members of Congress did not read or understand it.
Great Recession Connection
One of the requirements of the WTO was that Glass-Steagall had to be repealed. This removed the wall that protected traditional banking from risky investments and is partially responsible for the current economic crisis, which started in 2008. Similarly, NAFTA was 1,700 pages, including annexes and footnotes. NAFTA involved only three countries, the TPP includes 12. Congress cannot digest all of this information and consider its implications in such a short time.
Passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and its sister, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (known as TAFTA), for which negotiations began in July, will require fast track to become law. Supporters of the TPP such as the US Chamber of Commerce and, of course, the office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) are promoting fast rack with flimsy and false arguments. Basically, they boil down to these points:
1. The president should have fast track so he can negotiate job-creating agreements and boost trade and the economy.
2. It’s OK to give the president fast track because Congress is going to include negotiating objectives within the fast track law, and Congress must vote on the agreement.
3. The president should have fast track because other presidents have had it.
So, let’s examine the facts. First, despite promises of American jobs, past free trade agreements have actually been huge job losers. NAFTA is responsible for the loss of nearly 700,000 jobs. The recent Korea Free Trade Agreement was promised to bring 70,000 new jobs, but lost 40,000 jobs in the first year alone instead, and Public Citizen estimates that nearly 160,000 jobs will be lost over the first seven years. In total, US free trade agreements over the past two decades have netted a loss of nearly 5 million American jobs.
In addition to the loss of jobs, free trade agreements have contributed to the stagnation of wages in the United States. American workers cannot compete with extremely low wages in countries like China, Malaysia and Vietnam. A recent study predicts that the TPP will cause wages for 90 percent of American workers to decrease while wealth of the top 1% will soar. How can US workers compete with workers in Malaysia, where the minimum wage is $1.24; Peru, where it is $1.37; or Vietnam, where it is 30 cents? The TPP will increase the race to the bottom that will further impoverish US workers.
The same study predicts that the TPP will only boost US Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 0.1 percent. In fact, free trade agreements do not seem to work at all when it comes to expanding US exports. According to the data, overall the US trade deficit has increased by 440 percent with countries with which we have free trade agreements and has declined by 7 percent with countries with which we do not have agreements. If we look at the outcome of a “21st century trade agreement,” which is how the office of the USTR describes the TPP, like the Korea Free Trade Agreement, we find that “average monthly exports to Korea since the FTA have sunk 11 percent below the average monthly level before the FTA.” TAFTA is expected to increase US GDP by a mere 0.2 to 0.4 percent, which Public Citizen reports, is “a smaller contribution to GDP than was delivered by the latest version of the iPhone.”
Second, let’s look at Congressional oversight under fast track. Carol Guthrie from the office of the US Trade Representative recently wrote an email response to the producer of a video interview of Margaret Flowers in which she said:
“Checking in on your story on TPP – afraid there seems to be some misunderstanding about trade promotion authority, sometimes known as ‘fast track.’ Under such a law, which lays out just how the administration should consult with Congress on trade agreements, and in which Congress sets out negotiating objectives for the United States, there are indeed hearings and an up or down vote in Congress before the agreement can be implemented in law and enter into force. There are rules in TPA about whether or not the implementing legislation for an agreement can be amended, but it does not allow an agreement to become law or enter into force without Congressional approval. Glad to share more information as it’s helpful to you.”
Flowers wrote back immediately and asked if there was fast track legislation available for review; whether there would be full hearings on the content of the TPP and its implications; and whether amendments would be allowed. That was on September 20 and no response has been received.
In the past, fast track has limited hearings and debate and has not allowed amendments. There have also been negotiating objectives in the past, and these have often been ignored. For example, labor rights were required under the WTO, but still were not included. Even when provisions such as worker protections are included in trade agreements, they are not enforced, as is recently demonstrated in Colombia, where deaths of worker advocates have increased and there are massive strikes and protests since passage of the Colombian FTA.
In the case of the TPP, negotiating objectives enacted now, when the negotiation of the entire agreement is concluding, will have absolutely no effect. The negotiating objectives are merely window dressing designed to confuse labor unions, environmental groups and others into supporting the TPP, when in reality, protections will not be enforced.
Members of Congress are overruled by the agreements when they do try to change the provisions. Ray Rogers writes that trade agreements “have nullified the efforts of political leaders like Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who introduced legislation in 1994 to ban the imports of products produced by brutal child labor. President Clinton’s US Trade Representative informed him that his bill would violate the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which the United States is obliged to obey.” Thus, trade agreements tie the hands of Congress and undermine US sovereignty.
What is Oversight?
The definition of Congressional oversight by the office of the US Trade Representative falls far short of the degree of oversight necessary if Congress and the public are to have the ability to fully understand what is in the secret TPP and what the economic impact will be on the United States and nations around the world, as well as how it will impact protection of workers, consumers and the environment. What we expect to see under the fast track process are limited hearings in which supporters of the TPP praise it and Congress members are not able to fully question or amend it. How could it be anything else when members of Congress will not even have time to read the agreements?
Lastly, the idea that other presidents had fast track, so President Obama should too, is embarrassing in its lack of logic. Most presidents have not had fast track. And the agreements passed by fast track have caused the loss of US jobs, lowered wages and created higher trade deficits. Congress must serve its Constitutional function as a check and balance to the power of the President and the branch of government responsible for regulating trade and passing legislation. Fast track undermines the constitutional power of Congress and creates an imperial presidency.
Fortunately, the process to grant fast track trade authority this time around has slowed significantly. In February, 2012, then US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, in his testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee, included a request for fast track by the end of 2012 to complete TPP negotiations. Senators Max Baucus and Orrin Hatch urged the White House to request fast track trade authority last April. They expected to have a fast track bill passed in Congress by last June.
President Obama waited until August of this year to formally request fast track and, as of the writing of this article, no fast track bill has been introduced in Congress. A recent report in Politico stated, “Efforts by leaders of Senate Finance and House Ways and Means to craft a bipartisan TPA [Trade Promotion Authority] bill have taken longer than expected, prompting speculation the two panels may not be able to produce a package.”
Bipartisan opposition to fast track has already appeared in Congress. Alan Grayson (D-Florida) voiced opposition and Rosa DeLauro (D-Connecticut) is gathering signatures from other members on a letter to the president opposing fast track. Michelle Bachman (R-Minnesota) and Walter Jones (R-North Carolina) have a similar letter to the president. Many groups are lobbying against fast track, including Public Citizen, environmental groups and labor. We are organizing Fair Trade Brigades to track congressional support for fast track through our Flush the TPP campaign. Everyone is encouraged to participate in that effort.
Don’t Fast Track this Train Wreck
As Mizohata wrote in Asia Times, the TPP is Trojan horse that is not about trade. We know this because only five of its 29 chapters are about trade. Ben Beachy reports that “of the 11 countries negotiating the TPP with the United States, six already have FTAs with the US.”
So, if we already have trade agreements with these countries, and we know that trade deals don’t reduce our trade deficit, what is the reason for the TPP? It looks like a backdoor to the neoliberal economic agenda that has been stalled under the WTO since the Battle of Seattle in 1999. The tremendous secrecy surrounding the TPP is because the policies that are being pushed through are both harmful to – and unpopular with – the American public. Fast track is necessary to protect this secrecy because the TPP would not survive the light of day.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) has been one of the most outspoken members of Congress on the need for transparency. She wrote a letter to the president requesting that the text be made available to the public. Even members of Congress have restricted access to the text. Zach Carter writes that “Some [members of Congress] have said they were insulted by the complex administrative procedures the office of the U. Trade Representative, or USTR, imposed to actually access the texts – barriers not imposed on unelected corporate advisers.”
And, it is not only texts, when Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California) sought to observe negotiations being held near his California Congressional District, the US Trade Representative would not allow it. While corporations have been allowed to participate throughout the process, a member of Congress who serves on committees dealing with energy, small businesses, foreign policy and government oversight – which would all be impacted by the TPP – was blocked from merely observing. As Rep. Issa wrote: “Congress has a constitutional duty to oversee trade negotiations and not simply act as a rubber stamp to deals about which they were kept in the dark. While I had hoped the TPP would permit me to observe this round of the negotiation process firsthand, our efforts to open TPP negotiations up to transparency will continue.”
Looking at the office of the USTR website, one would think that the process of negotiating the TPP has been open and broad, rather than closed and exclusive as it has been. Negotiators write that they are reaching out to a “broad cross-section of stakeholders” and they want to “set the stage for a deeper level of engagement with these and other stakeholders in the weeks and months ahead.” But these are empty promises and misleading statements as both members of Congress and stakeholders know.
The actions of the USTR are designed to give the illusion of engagement while the needs and interests of those affected by the TPP will be ignored. One of the authors of this piece, Kevin Zeese, participated in a stakeholder briefing last September. He found that questions from the stakeholders in attendance were not answered by the representatives and the entire event felt like a charade.
That is why last week, we decided to expose the secret TPP and make the public’s demands for democracy and transparency more visible through spectacle protests. On Monday, September 23, eight of us wore work coveralls and hard hats and climbed scaffolding next to the USTR building. We draped the outside of their building with four large banners calling for democracy and transparency and calling the TPP what it is in reality, a global corporate coup against people and the planet. Our effort to raise awareness was successful as the Washington Post reported on the protest, calling it “one of the best ever.” The next day we spread the news by conducting a march featuring a 32-foot fast track train, going back to the US Trade Rep. office, then to the World Bank, White House, Chamber of Commerce, business district, Pennsylvania Ave. and Congress.
It is up to the public and their representatives in Congress to demand that the full text of the TPP be released and that there be a democratic process of review. We must fully understand the effects of the TPP on employment, wages, the environment, Internet freedom, public health and safety, and more. Jim Hightower outlines some of the major concerns in his newsletter, The Lowdown.
We cannot blindly accept the information coming from the USTR, President Obama and Big Business supporters of the TPP. They have misled the public before, and they are doing it again to advance an agenda that puts profits before the needs of people and protection of the planet. The TPP will force smaller countries like Vietnam to change their entire economy by eliminating their publicly supported enterprises and services and opening them up to the private sector and foreign investors. This will increase poverty and suffering while lining the pockets of the wealthy.
Countries negotiating with the United States need to realize that if the TPP becomes law, they will be under the thumb of Monsanto, JPMorgan, Bank of America, Wal-Mart and other US-based transnational corporations. Rodrigo Contreras, Chile’s lead TPP negotiator recently quit to warn people of the dangers of the TPP – highlighting how big financial institutions will dominate their governments and how the TPP “will become a threat for our countries: It will restrict our development options in health and education, in biological and cultural diversity, and in the design of public policies and the transformation of our economies. It will also generate pressures from increasingly active social movements, who are not willing to grant a pass to governments that accept an outcome of the TPP negotiations that limits possibilities to increase the prosperity and well-being of our countries.” The TPP will destroy the sovereignty of the nations who agree to its terms.
The destruction of sovereignty includes the United States. One of the most egregious outcomes of the TPP, if it passes, is the way it will undermine our national sovereignty as well as the ability of state and local governments to pass laws. All laws will have to be brought into compliance with the TPP. This means that public institutions like schools and hospitals can no longer give preference to buying local products, and consumers may be barred from knowing whether foods contain GMOs. It means the “Buy America” laws will be illegal, so Americans will be forced to spend their money on foreign products that create a massive trade deficit.
And if we pass laws that interfere with expected corporate profits, those laws can be challenged in a special court, an international trade tribunal that operates outside of our legal system and that is staffed largely by corporate lawyers on leave from their corporate jobs. There will be no appeal to traditional courts from these rigged trade tribunals.
The TPP Unites Us and We can Stop It
The TPP will affect everything we care about. It is a cause that unites us, and if we work together to stop it, we will have won against the behemoth of transnational corporate power. A broad range of groups across the political spectrum are involved in stopping the TPP from becoming law. This includes Internet freedom, anti-GMO, health care, labor, faith, immigrant rights and environmental groups, among others.
We can stop the TPP. Indeed, 14 trade agreements have been prevented in the last dozen years. As more people know about it, the less popular it will become among politicians who will be held accountable for the TPP’s failures. It is up to the public to demand that our representatives put the interests of their constituents before the profits of their corporate campaign financiers. They must know that they will be held accountable for the detrimental consequences that are being predicted.
Public awareness and pressure are already having an effect. The media is starting to cover the TPP more, and the process of granting fast track has been slowed. We can expect more propaganda to appear as the TPP falters and so we must prepare ourselves to repel it with the truth. And we must remember that no matter what we are told about it, no matter what protections we are told are included in it, we must have access to the text before it is signed and we must review and fully understand what its impacts will be.
Other countries are taking steps to demand transparency and democracy. Recently, the Parliament of Peru passed a resolution “requesting that the government open a ‘public, political, and technical debate’ on the binding rules being negotiated in the TPP.” Protests in Japan have been widespread. The more we are visible in our concerns about the TPP, the more people in other nations will be emboldened to stand up to US imperialism and domination.
It is time to end the era of rigged corporate trade and begin fair trade that respects all people and the planet, and that is developed in an open and transparent manner. Join the Fair Trade Brigade either in Congress or where you live. Tell your member of Congress to vote “no” on fast track and pass a resolution locally that declares your community to be a TPP-free zone. Visit FlushtheTPP.org for more information on what you can do.
Other articles on the TPP by Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese:
Egypt is preparing a plan for a possible military intervention in the Gaza Strip, security sources told Ma’an news agency on Wednesday.
Officials told Ma’an that Egyptian planes had entered Gazan airspace and examined a number of locations near the border in Rafah and Khan Younis to be targeted if military attacks against Egyptian troops intensify in Sinai.
Egyptian aircraft could also target vehicles traveling across the border with smuggled goods, the sources added, highlighting that “all options are open.”
Egyptian military sources claim that ongoing attacks in Sinai are carried out by organizations based both in Sinai Peninsula and in the Gaza Strip.
“The Egyptian army does not believe the population of Gaza is involved in the violence in Sinai, but certain factions strongly support Sinai groups. The tunnels play a major role in the communication between both sides,” a senior Egyptian official told Ma’an.
“In addition, Hamas, although its involvement is limited, is responsible for maintaining control of the smuggling tunnels as well as the factions operating in the coastal enclave,” he added.
Hundreds of people have been killed and more than 2,000 arrested across Egypt in the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood following the army’ ouster of President Mohammed Mursi in July.
The Egyptian military has stepped up a campaign against militant groups operating out of the Sinai Peninsula since, as attacks against the army have intensified.
The Egyptian military has accused Hamas, the current rulers of the Gaza Strip, of being connected to the violence and of having ties to Mursi.
The government of the “world’s only superpower,” the “exceptional,” the “indispensable” country, claims to know what is best for Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Mali, Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, China, indeed for the entire world. However, the “indispensable” country cannot even govern itself, much less the world over which the “superpower” desires hegemony. The government of the “world’s only superpower” has shut itself down.
The government has shut itself down, because it cannot deal with the budget deficit and mounting public debt caused by twelve years of wars, by financial deregulation that allows “banks too big to fail” to loot the taxpayers, and by the loss of jobs, GDP, and tax base that jobs offshoring forced by Wall Street caused.
The Republicans are using the fight over the limit on new public debt to block Obamacare. The Republicans are right to oppose Obamacare, but they are opposing Obamacare largely for ideological reasons when there are very good sound reasons to oppose Obamacare.
Last February 3, I posted on this website a column, “Obamacare: A Deception,” written by an expert on the subject.
When Republicans for ideological reasons blocked a single-payer health system like the rest of the developed world has and, indeed, even some developing countries have, the Obama regime, needing a victory, went to the insurance companies and told them to come up with a health care plan that the insurance lobby could get passed by Congress. Obamacare was written by the private insurance industry with the goal of raising its profits with 50 million mandated new customers.
Obamacare works for the insurance companies, but not for the uninsured. The cost of using Obamacare is prohibitive for those who most need the health coverage. The cost of the premiums net of the government subsidy is large. It amounts to a substantial pay cut for people struggling to pay their bills. In addition to the premium cost, it is prohibitive for hard pressed Americans to use the policies because of the deductibles and co-pays. For the very poor, who are thrown into Medicaid systems, any assets they might have, such as a home, are subject to confiscation to cover their Medicaid bills. The only people other than the insurance companies who benefit from Obamacare are the down and out who are devoid of all assets.
This might prove to be a growing percentage of Americans. On September 19 the New York Times on the front page of the business section reported what I have reported for years: that real median family incomes in the US are where they were a quarter of a century ago. In other words, in a quarter of a century there has been no income growth for the median American family.
In 2013 payroll employment is below where it was six years ago. During 2013 most of the new jobs, barely sufficient to stay even with population growth and insufficient to recover the job loss from the recession, have been part-time jobs that do not provide any discretionary income with which to drive a consumer economy.
Obamacare has resulted in the health insurance companies, who thought that they would be living in high profits from the mandated health coverage, being outsmarted by employers, who have reduced their full-time workers to part-time in order to avoid Omamacare’s requirement to provide health coverage to those employees who work 30 hours a week or more.
Employers can get away with this, because jobs are hard to find. The lack of employment opportunities results in Americans with engineering degrees working as retail sales clerks and as shelf stockers in Walmart and Home Depot. Despite the abundance of unemployed and under-employed American technical and engineering workers, the large corporations lobby Congress for more H-1B visas to bring in lowly paid foreigners with the argument that there is a shortage of qualified Americans for technical work.
As I have pointed out so many times, if there were a shortage of engineering and technical workers, salaries would be rising, not falling.
For millions of employees, Obamacare means cut hours and less take home pay plus out-of-pocket expenses to purchase an Obamacare health policy. For most people covered by Obamacare, this is a lose-lose situation.
It is also a lose-loss situation for the vast majority of the young. Most young people, unless they have jobs that provide health coverage, do without it, because the chances of the young having heart attacks, cancer, and other serious health problems is low.
Obamacare, however, requires the healthy young to pay premiums for coverage or to pay a penalty to the IRS.
In my day this might not have been a problem. However, today there are few jobs for the young that pay enough to have an independent existence. The monthly payroll jobs reports do not show well-paying jobs. The Labor Department’s projections of future jobs are not jobs that pay well. For the youth, it seems that the penalty is less than the premium, so youthful penalties paid out of waitress and bartender tips will subsidize the unusable Obamacare health policies for the poor adults who are not thrown into Medicaid, which confiscates their assets, if any.
Obamacare benefits only two classes of people. It benefits employers who drop their employees working hours below the hours specified for Obamacare coverage, and it benefits the insurance companies or the IRS who collect the premiums and penalties.
Many of the people who pay the premiums won’t be able to use the policies because of co-pays and deductions.
The very poor with no assets might receive health care if they reside in states that accept the Medicaid provisions of Obamacare.
In 21st century America, the few people who have experienced income gains are the executives and shareholders of firms who offshored their production for US markets, Wall Street which makes bets covered by the Federal Reserve, and the military-security complex which has been enriched by the neoconservatives’ wars.
Every other American has lost.
Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. His latest book The Failure of Laissez-Faire Capitalism. Roberts’ How the Economy Was Lost is now available from CounterPunch in electronic format.
Israeli Settlers – Safa News
Late on Wednesday at night a number of extremist Israeli settlers closed the western entrance of Ya’bod village, near the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and harassed several residents. Soldiers invaded the village and broke into a store.
Local sources said the settlers were dancing in the streets, chanting anti-Arab slogans, and were cursing at the residents, and conducting provocative acts.
The settlers used generators to light the streets, and to power loud speakers, while Israeli soldiers were deployed in the area without attempting to stop them, the Safa News Agency has reported.
Later on, the army invaded the village, not to remove the settlers, but to break into a local store that belongs to resident Salah Abu Dyak.
The soldiers violently searched the store and withdrew from the village.
On Thursday morning, several Israeli military jeeps installed a roadblock at the eastern entrance of Ya’bod, and nearby villages, and blocked all Palestinian traffic.
Soldiers stopped and searched dozens of cars, and questioned the passengers before forcing them back, forcing dozens of residents to take unpaved rough roads to reach their places of work, universities and schools.
Dozens of soldiers further invaded Sielet Ath-Thaher town, south of Jenin, broke into the home of resident Nasser Ibrahim Malloul, and handed his son Bilal, 27, a military warrant ordering him to the Salem military base for interrogation.
Yadlin is the current head of the Institute of National Security Studies at the University of Tel Aviv and still has strong links with the security and political authorities in the Zionist state.
The former director of Israeli military intelligence, General Amos Yadlin, has revealed that its operatives have penetrated a number of Arab countries, notably Egypt. Yadlin also named Tunisia, Morocco, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, Lebanon, Iran, Libya, Palestine and Syria as places where Israeli agents are active.
Speaking to Israel’s Channel Seven, he claimed that the Military Intelligence Division has established networks for collecting information in Tunisia, Libya and Morocco which are able to have a positive or negative influence on the political, economic and social scenes in the countries.
The retired General did not give details of the exact nature of such networks but he did say that Israeli agents are most active in Egypt where they have been established since 1979. Yadlin is the current head of the Institute of National Security Studies at the University of Tel Aviv and still has strong links with the security and political authorities in the Zionist state. He confirmed that Israeli agents are working deep within Egyptian governmental institutions.
He said that the Military Intelligence Division’s work against the “enemy” has succeeded in escalating unrest and sectarian and social tensions wherever they are operating, especially in Egypt.
A recent video released by hacktivist group Anonymous presents compelling evidence which claims that Apple’s TouchID technology is linked to the FBI and NSA and is involved in the provision of information on users for a large-scale biometric database under construction by the US Government for use “both domestically and on the battlefield”.
This biometric database is due to be populated by any personal information retrieved by government agencies, leading to fears that Big Brother’s eye is following us wherever we go and whatever we do, even in the privacy of our own homes.
Anonymous alleges that they have uncovered proof of a corrupt alliance of Department of Defense contractors, NSA and CIA-related venture capital which led to the development of technologies subsequently purchased by Apple.
These findings were the result of investigation by Barrett Brown, the jailed and gagged journalist and links to further enlightening material have been posted on the Pastebin website and were largely based on documents obtained by the US defense contractor ManTech in 2010.
So what exactly are these revelations? Firstly, Anonymous claim that there are links between AuthenTec (the company bought by Apple to enable them to develop the TouchID technology) and the “most powerful and corrupt” Defense Department and intelligence community contractors and officials. Anonymous concentrate largely on one individual – Robert E Grady, a prominent figure and political speechwriter under both Bush administrations – when delineating and highlighting the opaque relationships between big business and the US government.
During his time sitting on the board of AuthenTec, Grady was a formerly leading partner in The Carlyle Group, an investment firm which previously owned not only Authentec, but also was the main shareholder of Booz Allen Hamilton, the NSA contractor and erstwhile employer of whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Anonymous presents further claims that the Authentec board of directors ensured that the company would be sold exclusively to Apple, due to the company’s position as market-leader, as this in turn would encourage rival companies to adopt the same technology in order to compete. They state that the launch of the Apple iPhone 5S has meant that secret surveillance and biometric collection has heightened into a full-scale assault on personal data and privacy.
However, other commentators suggest that Apple’s fingerprint security feature may be the thin end of the wedge in terms of biometric collection and consumer devices. Internationally, increasing numbers of countries are deploying biometric technology within organs of the state and rumours abound that biometrics – such as fingerprinting and facial recognition – will soon be a standard feature on game consoles and other electronic leisure products and household gadgets.
Apple’s lack of transparency regarding their usage of data obtained secretly from their customers is not restricted to their newest innovations, either. As far back as 2011 technological researchers were warning that the company could face law suits for breaches of privacy in relation to the storing of users’ locations and other personal information in secret files, which stores location coordinates with a timestamp to effectively map and record the precise movements of individuals.
The implication of this would be the danger this data could fall into the wrong hands if someone was able to hack the system. It is unclear why Apple is storing this data, but it is clearly intentional as such information on the database is being restored across backups and even device migrations. In 2010 Apple was once again the target of claims of privacy violation when a class-action suit was filed against them in a US Federal Court. The claim was that earlier models of the iPhone and iPad contained unique identifying elements, known as Unique Device Identifiers, which allowed advertising agencies track which applications were being downloaded by users, how frequently they were being used and for what period of time.
Users are unable to block the transmission of the UDID, a 40-character string that uniquely identifies each device. The lawsuit alleged: “Some apps are also selling additional information to ad networks, including users’ location, age, gender, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation and political views.” Apple has continuously denied that it transmits user-data without consent, but this has done little to ease fears that the company’s actions constitute an intrusive tracking scheme which aids and abets serious invasions of privacy.
None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.
Think of your smart phone as being equal to or the same as, an ankle monitoring bracelet forced on an alleged criminal.
“An ankle monitor (also known as a tether, or ankle bracelet) is a device that individuals under house arrest or parole are often required to wear. At timed intervals, the ankle monitor sends a radio frequency signal containing location and other information to a receiver.”
That sounds exactly like your smart phone?
The one thing that makes it different is that a criminal is forced to wear such a device and you are choosing to use and pay for own tracking! You are wearing, carrying, accessorizing your own electronic monitoring device. What a gift to the powers that shouldn’t be!
None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.
Let’s peruse a checklist of personal data collected from you by Apple technology shall we?
- Voiceprints (SIRI/phone) ✓
- Fingerprint(s) ✓
- Your exact geo-location via GPS ✓
- Up-to-date pictures of you, your friends and family ✓
- Email contents ✓
- Names, addresses and phone numbers of all your contacts ✓
- Every detail of the items stored in your Calendar ✓
- Surveillance audio taken from the built-in microphone ✓
- Your browsing history and bookmarks ✓