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Government policy set by businesses? - Judicial Watch seeks documents about decision-making process

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Judicial Watch, the watchdog group that seeks out and prosecutes government corruption, has gone to court seeking information about a group of private company officials who apparently have been making recommendations for government policy.

The organization is called the North American Competitiveness Council and it is made up of representatives of business in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Its stated goal is to offer recommendations for commerce that would streamline business dealings among the countries.

For example, one of its recommendations has been to allow people to cross international boundaries without documentation should there ever be an international disease outbreak. It also has reviewed plans to integrate the Mexican power supply system into the U.S. power grid.

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Judicial Watch said it filed a notice yesterday with Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez seeking access to the meetings and records of the NACC under a federal open meetings law.

"Specifically, Judicial Watch seeks to attend and/or participate in meetings of the NACC and its U.S. component subcommittees, the next meeting of which is reportedly scheduled for Aug. 20, 2007, in Montebello, Quebec, Canada," the group said.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton told WND there needs to be disclosure.

"Our goal is to open up the process," he said. "It's especially important that the meetings be open. Private groups giving advice to the government need to be open."

He said the concern for American people is that the private individuals can make private decisions in secret. "But when private individuals start doing government activities, they [need to be accountable,]" he said.

Gutierrez launched the NACC, along with his Mexican and Canadian counterparts, in June 2006. officials said. They met on Aug. 15, 2006, and again on Feb. 23, 2007, and the committee already has provided more than 50 recommendations for action to Gutierrez and the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America.

The Security and Prosperity Partnership is unveiled in Jerome Corsi's book, 'The Late, Great USA'

The SPP is viewed by supporters as a means to smooth economic bumps among the trade involving the countries. Opponents see it as one more stepping stone to the possibility of a merged North American Union.

Judicial Watch said on March, 23, 2005, heads of governments Vincente Fox, George W. Bush and Paul Martin launched the North American partnership at a meeting in Waco, Texas, with the expressed goal of "a safer, more prosperous North America." According to the documents cited by JW, the partnership's "working groups" include government and business leaders from the United States, Mexico and Canada, who are addressing a variety of topics, including movement of goods between countries, traveler security, energy, environment and health.

On the U.S. section of the committee are representatives of more than 200 companies and business groups. However, the executive committee includes representatives of Campbell Soup Co., Chevron Corp., Ford Motor Co., FedEx Corp., General Electric, General Motors, Kansas City Southern, Lockheed Martin, Merck & Co., Mittal Steel USA, New York Life Insurance, Procter & Gamble, UPS, Wal-Mart and Whirlpool.

Judicial Watch said it earlier had submitted a request to attend the NACC meeting, but "the Secretariat informed Judicial Watch that as a not-for-profit educational foundation, it was not eligible to participate in NACC meetings."

That decision despite a statement on the NACC website: "This is a very open and transparent process. Literally hundreds of companies, sectorial associations, and local chambers of commerce have helped prepare our recommendations. No one has ever been turned away."

Judicial Watch's notice to Gutierrez stressed the legal requirement for the NACC to obey federal open meetings laws and file a charter, publish notices and allow interested parties to attend and participate.

"Judicial Watch believes the NACC has failed to satisfy any of these statutory requirements," the group said. "Judicial Watch has also requested that Secretary Gutierrez make all records of the NACC reports, transcripts, minutes, appendixes, working papers, drafts, studies, agenda, etc. available to Judicial Watch in accordance with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552)."

During the process of even discovering the existence of the NACC, Fitton noted, "Many Americans are interested in where this North American partnership process is going." ...

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