In Latest Russian Plot, WikiLeaks Reveals Hillary Opposes ISDS

Among the emails released as part of the Podesta leaks yesterday, WikiLeaks released this one showing that, almost a year before she was making the same argument in debates with Bernie Sanders, Hillary was opposed to Investor State Dispute Settlement that is part of the Trans Pacific Partnership. (h/t Matt Stoller) ISDS is the means by which corporations have used trade agreements to operate above the domestic laws of party countries (if you haven’t read this three part series from BuzzFeed to learn about the more exotic ways business are profiting off of ISDS).

The email also appears to echo her later public concern that she had changed her mind on TPP because of KORUS.

After our last talk with HRC, we revised our letter to oppose ISDS and include her caution about South Korea.

Sure, other Podesta emails show Hillary supporting a broad region of free trade (and labor) in the Americas. But this more recent email confirms that the views she expressed in debate were more than just an attempt to counter Bernie’s anti-trade platform.

Whether or not this is newsworthy enough to justify the WL dump, it is noteworthy in light of NYT’s rather bizarre article from some weeks back suggesting that WL always sides with Putin’s goals. As I noted, the article made a really strained effort to claim that WL exposed TPP materials because it served Putin’s interests. Now, here, WL is is releasing information that makes Hillary look better on precisely that issue.

That doesn’t advance the presumed narrative of helping Trump defeat Hillary!

Then, as I noted yesterday, in spite of all the huff and puff from Kurt Eichenwald, the release of a Sid Blumenthal email used by Trump is another case where the WL release, as released, doesn’t feed the presumed goals of Putin.

Which brings me to this Shane Harris piece, which describes four different NatSec sources revealing there’s still a good deal of debate about WL’s ties to Russia.

Military and intelligence officials are convinced that WikiLeaks is an ongoing threat to U.S. national security and privacy owing to its leaks of classified documents and emails. But its precise relationship with Russia has been a subject of internal debate. Some do see the group as being in cahoots with the Kremlin. But others find that WikiLeaks is acting mainly as the beneficiary of stolen documents, not unlike a journalistic organization.

There are some funny aspects to this story. Nothing in it considers the significant evidence that WL is (and has reason to be) affirmatively anti-Hillary, which means its interests may align with Russia, even if it doesn’t take orders from Russia.

It also suggests that if the spooks can prove some tie between WL and Russia, they can spy on it as an agent of foreign power.

But those facts don’t mean WikiLeaks isn’t acting at Russia’s behest. And that’s not a trivial matter. If the United States were to determine that WikiLeaks is an agent of a foreign power, as defined in U.S. law, it could allow intelligence and law enforcement agencies to spy on the group—as they do on the Russian government. The U.S. can also bring criminal charges against foreign agents.

WL has been intimately involved in two separate charges cases of leaking-as-espionage in the US, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden. The government has repeatedly told courts that it has National Security/Criminal investigations, plural, into WikiLeaks, and when pressed for details about how and whether the government is collecting on supporters and readers of WikiLeaks, the government has in part hidden those details under a b3 FOIA exemption, meaning a statute prevents disclosing it, while extraordinarily refusing to reveal what statute that is. We certainly know that FBI has used multiple informants to spy on WL and used a variety of collection methods against Jacob Appelbaum, including (according to Appelbaum) physical tails.

So there’s not only no doubt that the US government believes it can spy on WikiLeaks (which is, after all, headed by a foreigner and not a US organization), but that it already does, and has been doing for at least six years.

Perhaps Harris’ sources really mean they’ve never found a way to indict Julian Assange before, but if they can claim he’s working for Putin, then maybe they’ll overcome past problems of indicting him because it would criminalize journalism. If that’s the case, it may be shading analysis of WL, because the government would badly like a reason to shut down WL (as the comments about the direct threat to the US in the story back up).

As I’ve said before, the role of WL in this and prior leak events is a pretty complex one, one that if approached too rashly (or too sloppily) could have ramifications for other publishers. While a lot of people are rushing to collapse this (in spite of what sounds like a continuing absence of directly incriminating evidence) into a nation-state conflict, things like this TPP email suggest it’s not that simple.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

5 replies
  1. rugger9 says:

    Some of this was cited by Orange Claudius on the trail on Monday.  It appears the content was twisted out of a Newsweek article written by Eichenwald (who recognized it immediately) and was only cited in Putin’s mouthpiece (“Sputnik”, with all of the Newsweek graphics, etc.) before being withdrawn when Eichenwald complained.  However, only Sputnik had run it before Trump went off on it, which makes the Russian meddling pipeline very clear.  http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/10/11/1580704/-EICHENWALD-Trump-recited-false-information-at-a-rally-in-from-a-Russian-disinformation-Op

    If Hillary is against the ISDS, that is a good thing, because that is the reason sovereignty would be lost under these so-called “trade” agreements.  Another interesting take comes from Digby’s blog, where Gaius Publius asserts both NAFTA and TPP have withdrawal clauses that can be done unilaterally.  So, why is Obama pushing so hard for TPP, when it’s something that separates him from the mood of America?  He’s usually smarter than that.

    From the NAFTA text:

    Article 2205: Withdrawal
    A Party may withdraw from this Agreement six months after it provides written notice of withdrawal to the other Parties. If a Party withdraws, the Agreement shall remain in force for the remaining Parties.

    From the TPP text:

    Article 30.6: Withdrawal
    1. Any Party may withdraw from this Agreement by providing written notice of withdrawal to the Depositary. A withdrawing Party shall simultaneously notify the other Parties of its withdrawal through the overall contact points designated under Article 27.5 (Contact Points).

    2. A withdrawal shall take effect six months after a Party provides written notice to the Depositary under paragraph 1, unless the Parties agree on a different period. If a Party withdraws, this Agreement shall remain in force for the remaining Parties.


  2. wayoutwest says:

    After reading the Red Queen’s clear private statement about her having different public and private positions this email doesn’t do much to make her look any better. This public position on ISDS is suspect and with her claim that the TPP is the Gold Standard it would most likely be ground up into the sausage making during the private back room dealings. The ISDS issue was already widely debated and condemned long before the primaries started and HRC staked out a handy expedient public position for later use while her private position remains total support for whatever the corporate world demands.

    It’s depressing that the truth exposed doesn’t seem to have much effect anymore and is swallowed in the tide of spin and lies, either ignored, denied or viewed as a secondary issue not as newsworthy as the spin and lies. Wikileaks and whomever is supplying this valid information are performing a service that few others can or are willing to provide and that makes them Enemies of the State, targeted for destruction. Life will be simpler once they are gone and others are deterred from emulating them.

  3. jawbone says:

    Why is Obama pushing the TPP and its odious ISDS, when he must be aware of how the public feels on this?

    Well, first, given the MCM (Mainstream Corporate Media) coverage of the TPP, very, very little is even said about the ISDS. People have to have access to internet sources to learn about it, and, given time constraints on so many workers, added to cost constraints for those with little discretionary income, if any income…, people do not get the important news they need. That makes it difficult for the public to even know what to protest.

    Second, Obama has higher managers to consider than the voters. Once they’ve voted him in for the second term, he is freer than ever to satisfy the requirements of his overlords, the “Big” just about any industry.

    Obama was fully aware the American public would have preferred Medicare for All Improved over his crapification of coverage under the ACA, but he had to satisfy his paymasters.

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