Despite having no authorization from Congress, the Bush administration has launched extensive working-group activity to implement a trilateral agreement with Mexico and Canada.
The membership of the working groups has not been published, nor has their work product been disclosed, despite two years of massive effort within the executive branches of the U.S., Mexico and Canada.
The groups, working under the North American Free Trade Agreement office in the Department of Commerce, are to implement the Security and Prosperity Partnership, or SPP, signed by President Bush, Mexican President Vicente Fox and then-Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin in Waco, Texas, on March 23, 2005.
The trilateral agreement, signed as a joint declaration not submitted to Congress for review, led to the creation of the SPP office within the Department of Commerce.
The SPP report to the heads of state of the U.S., Mexico and Canada, -- released June 27, 2005, -- lists some 20 different working groups spanning a wide variety of issues ranging from e-commerce, to aviation policy, to borders and immigration, involving the activity of multiple U.S. government agencies.
The working groups have produced a number of memorandums of understanding and trilateral declarations of agreement.
The Canadian government and the Mexican government each have SPP offices comparable to the U.S. office.
Geri Word, who heads the SPP office within the NAFTA office of the U.S. Department of Commerce affirmed to WND last Friday in a telephone interview that the membership of the working groups, as well as their work products, have not been published anywhere, including on the Internet.
Why the secrecy?
"We did not want to get the contact people of the working groups distracted by calls from the public," said Word.
She suggested to WND that the work products of the working groups was described on the SPP website, so publishing the actual documents did not seem required.
WND can find no specific congressional legislation authorizing the SPP working groups. The closest to enabling legislation was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., on April 20, 2005. Listed as S. 853, the bill was titled "North American Cooperative Security Act: A bill to direct the Secretary of State to establish a program to bolster the mutual security and safety of the United States, Canada, and Mexico, and for other purposes." The bill never emerged from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
In the House of Representatives, the same bill was introduced by Rep. Katherine Harris, R-Fla., on May 26, 2005. Again, the bill languished in the House Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment.
WND cannot find any congressional committees taking charge for specific oversight of SPP activity.
WND has requested from Word in the U.S. Department of Commerce a complete listing of the contact persons and the participating membership for the working groups listed in the June 2005 SPP report to the trilateral leaders. In addition, WND asked to see all work products, such as memorandums of understanding, letters of intent, and trilateral agreements that are referenced in the report.
Many SPP working groups appear to be working toward achieving specific objectives as defined by a May 2005 Council on Foreign Relations task force report, which presented a blueprint for expanding the SPP agreement into a North American Union that would merge the U.S., Canada and Mexico into a new governmental form.
Referring to the SPP joint declaration, the report, entitled "Building a North American Community," stated:
The Task Force is pleased to provide specific advice on how the partnership can be pursued and realized.
To that end, the Task Force proposes the creation by 2010 of a North American community to enhance security, prosperity, and opportunity. We propose a community based on the principle affirmed in the March 2005 Joint Statement of the three leaders that "our security and prosperity are mutually dependent and complementary." Its boundaries will be defined by a common external tariff and an outer security perimeter within which the movement of people, products, and capital will be legal, orderly, and safe. Its goal will be to guarantee a free, secure, just, and prosperous North America.
The CFR task force report called for establishment of a common security border perimeter around North America by 2010, along with free movement of people, commerce and capital within North America, facilitated by the development of a North American Border Pass that would replace a U.S. passport for travel between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Also envisioned by the CFR task force report were a North American court, a North American inter-parliamentary group, a North American executive commission, a North American military defense command, a North American customs office and a North American development bank.
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