- Julian AssangeWikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief.
Despite the Senate vote approving a measure to give President Obama fast-track authority to negotiate the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, opposition to the deal continues to mount ahead of this month’s House vote. Critics, including a number of Democratic lawmakers, oppose the TPP, saying it will fuel inequality, kill jobs, and undermine health, environmental and financial regulations. The negotiations have been secret, and the public has never seen most of the deal’s text. Well, this morning the whistleblowing group WikiLeaks launched a campaign to change that. The group is seeking to raise $100,000 to offer what they describe as a bounty for the leaking of the unseen chapters of the TPP. We speak to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
AMY GOODMAN: Despite the Senate vote approving a measure to give President Obama fast-track authority to negotiate the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, opposition to the deal continues to mount ahead of this month’s House vote. Critics, including a number of Democratic lawmakers, oppose the TPP, saying it will fuel inequality, kill jobs, and undermine health, environmental and financial regulations. The negotiations have been secret, and the public has never seen most of the deal’s text. Well, this morning, the whistleblowing group WikiLeaks launched a campaign to change that. The group is seeking to raise $100,000 to offer what they describe as a bounty for the leaking of the unseen chapters of the TPP. WikiLeaks just posted this video online.
NARRATOR: WikiLeaks is raising a $100,000 reward for the missing chapters on America’s most wanted secret: the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And this is why.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: TPP is for American businesses, American businesses, businesses, businesses.
MIKE SYNAN: It’s called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and it might not sound important to you, until you hear Democrats railing against their own president and saying your job could be on the line.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN: Who will benefit from the TPP?
LORI WALLACH: It is enforceable corporate global governance.
THOM HARTMANN: It is a giant giveaway to monster transnational corporations.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN: Wall Street, pharmaceuticals, telecom, big polluters and outsourcers are all salivating at the chance to rig the upcoming trade deals in their favor.
NARRATOR: All 29 chapters of the TPP are secret, but three of them have been WikiLeaked. So what do we know so far?
THOM HARTMANN: The United States has negotiated the TPP almost entirely in secret, with the help of about 600 private corporations.
NARRATOR: The TPP is a multitrillion-dollar treaty that is being negotiated behind closed doors by the Obama administration. They say it’s a free trade deal, but in reality it is anything but free. And 80 percent of it isn’t even about trade.
MELINDA ST. LOUIS: There are 29 chapters. Only five of them have to do with trade. They have to do with our freedom on the Internet. They have to do with the financial regulation, of food and product safety.
NARRATOR: The treaty covers nearly half of the world’s economy and is the largest ever negotiated. It will have implications beyond matters of trade, intruding into almost every aspect of people’s lives. The TPP bans favoring local businesses. Experts say it will send millions of jobs overseas and drive down wages and conditions at home. Multinational corporations will be able to sue the government for passing laws, including on the environment and health protections that they claim affect their expected future profit.
JOHN OLIVER: That’s right. A company was able to sue a country over a public health measure through an international court. How the [bleep] is that possible? Philip Morris International, a company with annual net revenues of $80 billion, basically threatened to sue Togo, whose entire GDP is $4.3 billion. Togo, justifiably terrified by threats of billion-dollar settlements, backed down from a public health law that many people wanted. And it’s not just Togo. Two tobacco companies sued Australia in its highest court. Philip Morris International is currently suing Uruguay. British American Tobacco sent a similar letter to Namibia, … the Solomon Islands.
NARRATOR: Pharmaceutical companies will be allowed to expand their monopolies, restricting the availability of affordable generic drugs. The TPP requires Internet service providers to become Internet policemen, watching your every click. It is a one-way ticket. Once signed, it will be locked in place for decades. But the scariest thing about the TPP is that there are 26 chapters that cover our daily lives that we have not seen.
AMY GOODMAN: Part of a new video released by WikiLeaks today. Well, on Memorial Day, I traveled to London and interviewed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorean Embassy, where he’s lived for nearly three years with political asylum. Assange faces investigations in both Sweden and the United States. I asked him about WikiLeaks’ TPP campaign.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, we are raising $100,000, which we think won’t be any problem at all, in pledges, for the 29 chapters of the TPP. Now, we have already obtained four and published four, but we’d also like updated versions of those four. Now, why is this so important? This agreement covers 40 percent of the global economy, and it lays the foundations for a new system of international law that will be embedded in all the economies involved. And it is a predecessor agreement to something called the TTIP, which is the U.S.-EU version. So, it’s going—
AMY GOODMAN: Called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment—
JULIAN ASSANGE: Partnership.
AMY GOODMAN: —Partnership.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Yeah, so this is going to cover more than 60 percent of GDP. And it is the framework, if it gets through, of international law, and filtering into domestic law. It is the construction of a new world, a new way of doing things, a new legal regime. So it’s, in historical terms, the largest-ever such agreement negotiated. And so that’s the importance. But we also want to also demonstrate that whistleblowers who give information in relation to this, they shouldn’t be chased or harassed, they should be celebrated. They should be celebrated like the Nobel Prize celebrates people who do good work, for the Nobel Prize. And so, I think we can achieve not just encouragement and incentive for people to look for such information, but rather, we can award and celebrate their courage and tenacity in getting a hold of it.
AMY GOODMAN: So, in a sense, you’re saying it’s not paying for the information, but it’s prize money for turning it over?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, it’s prize money for demonstrating the courage and tenacity in finding such information.
AMY GOODMAN: Can we go to the issue of journalism in the United States and how it’s being practiced today when it comes to whistleblowers, the issue of what it means to get information from a whistleblower, how you get that information? You have said you feel this is deeply endangered now and that laws are being considered that would criminalize journalism.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Right. Well, we want to take a—we also want to take a strong stand in relation to this. Now, the U.S. government, in terms of its attack on WikiLeaks, has tried to construct a theory which, if permitted, will be the end of national security journalism, not just in the United States, but also about the United States. That claim is that journalists can’t solicit information from sources and to solicit information is to be involved in a conspiracy. And—
AMY GOODMAN: An accomplice to the conspiracy.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Yeah. And the United States, in terms of the charge types that it’s trying to charge me with—those include conspiracy and conspiracy to commit espionage—this is rubbish. We cannot tolerate this at the political level or the media level. If we do tolerate it, then that standard will be erected. Then what happens in practice? How does traditional investigative journalism work? Well, you hear a rumor about some event occurring. Let’s say it’s an assassination squad assassinating people. You hear a rumor that there might have been an event, and you go and speak to your sources, or perhaps one approaches you and says, “I heard that this happened.” And then you say, “Well, that’s good, but we need to be able to prove it. So do you have information that can prove it?” And then they say, “Well, I think I might have some report on the incident.” And then you say, “Well, that’s good. Can we have that report? Can we see that report?” And that’s the way journalism has always been done. Now, the U.S. DOJ—
AMY GOODMAN: That’s the smoking gun.
JULIAN ASSANGE: That’s the smoking gun. That’s—if you see the Edward Snowden case, without that, without those documents, you don’t get anywhere. If you’ve got that, then they’re undeniable, if they’re official documents. So, we cannot allow a standard to be erected, in national security journalism or other forms of investigative journalism, where that is not permitted, where that is seen to be unlawful. And a number of journalists, as a result of the DOJ pushing this line that it is unlawful to solicit tips from sources, have been—to protect themselves, they have said that they’re not. But as a result, a new standard is being erected—is in danger of being erected, where you cannot solicit tips from sources.
Now, we even fell into this mistake back in 2011, 2012, where our situation was quite precarious. Based on legal advice, WikiLeaks doesn’t solicit information. In fact, WikiLeaks is one of the few organizations, because of our infrastructure, that we do often get unsolicited information. But we think it’s necessary to hold the line and say, “No, asking for tips is a very important thing to do. It’s always been done in journalism.” And we’re going to show that we do that. We are confident about doing that. We are confident that that is legal, under most judicial systems, and it should be legal also in the United States—we say it is legal under the First Amendment. And if the U.S. DOJ wants to have a fight about that in relation to the TPP or anything else, then bring it on.
AMY GOODMAN: Julian Assange, speaking inside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he has taken refuge for the past three years. I interviewed him on Memorial Day. You can go to democracynow.org to see the two hours of our exclusive interview [hour one, hour two].
Also go to democracynow.org for the graduation speech you weren’t supposed to hear. The response has been tremendous when we played it yesterday on Democracy Now! And now we’ve posted part two of our interview with Evan Young, the Colorado charter high school valedictorian who was barred from speaking at graduation because he was planning to come out as gay. That’s democracynow.org. When we come back, Cuba. Stay with us.