Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Saudi Cables and the TPP Healthcare Annex

Two new troves of documents published by Wikileaks: the Saudi Cables, of which a portion were released yesterday (evidently the most damning are to appear any moment now...), and the TPP Healthcare Annex (to the “transparency” chapter), which was released last week.

The Saudi Cables:
Today, Friday 19th June at 1pm GMT, WikiLeaks began publishing The Saudi Cables: more than half a million cables and other documents from the Saudi Foreign Ministry that contain secret communications from various Saudi Embassies around the world. The publication includes “Top Secret” reports from other Saudi State institutions, including the Ministry of Interior and the Kingdom’s General Intelligence Services. The massive cache of data also contains a large number of email communications between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and foreign entities. The Saudi Cables are being published in tranches of tens of thousands of documents at a time over the coming weeks. Today WikiLeaks is releasing around 70,000 documents from the trove as the first tranche.

The Saudi Cables provide key insights into the Kingdom’s operations and how it has managed its alliances and consolidated its position as a regional Middle East superpower, including through bribing and co-opting key individuals and institutions. The cables also illustrate the highly centralised bureaucratic structure of the Kingdom, where even the most minute issues are addressed by the most senior officials.

As’ad AbuKhalil has a post today about the Saudi regime’s comical – well, they would be comical were the regime not in the habit of imprisoning, torturing, and beheading noncompliant “citizens” – warnings:
This is hilarious. The Saudi foreign ministry issued this directive to its citizens: It reads: ‘Dear Aware Citizen: Avoid entering any site for the purpose of obtaining leaked documents or information that may be untrue, for harming the security of the homeland’. Kid you not. The second one reads: ‘Dear Aware Citizen: Don’t publish any documents that may be untrue which could aid the enemies of the homeland in attaining their goals’. Kid you not.
The TPP Healthcare Annex:
Today, Wednesday 10 June 2015, WikiLeaks publishes the Healthcare Annex to the secret draft “Transparency” Chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), along with each country's negotiating position. The Healthcare Annex seeks to regulate state schemes for medicines and medical devices. It forces healthcare authorities to give big pharmaceutical companies more information about national decisions on public access to medicine, and grants corporations greater powers to challenge decisions they perceive as harmful to their interests.

Expert policy analysis, published by WikiLeaks today, shows that the Annex appears to be designed to cripple New Zealand's strong public healthcare programme and to inhibit the adoption of similar programmes in developing countries. The Annex will also tie the hands of the US Congress in its ability to pursue reforms of the Medicare programme.

The draft is restricted from release for four years after the passage of the TPP into law.

Few people, even within the negotiating countries' governments, have access to the full text of the draft agreement and the public, who it will affect most, have none at all. Hundreds of large corporations, however, have been given access to portions of the text, generating a powerful lobby to effect changes on behalf of these groups.

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