I've mentioned before (here and here) that journalist Ed Brayton has been trying to find out what is in the settlement reached by the U.S. and EU in relation to the Gambling case. Brayton now has something to report, although it appears the full details will have to wait a couple weeks:
Since I've just spent the day talking about it, I just realized that I don't think I've ever said here what happened with my FOIA lawsuit, so here's a tease. Just before the election, the Bush administration caved in and gave us the document we wanted. I now have a copy of the WTO settlement that was signed between the US Trade Representative and the European Union. There was just one problem: it was pretty much meaningless gibberish to me.
The document consisted of a table that showed various subsections of the WTO's General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), all of which are part of what is called a "schedule of commitments" that determines what types of businesses and industries are open to foreign companies and what types are not. Each subsection listed then had a series of numbers and statements.
The only way to discern what it meant was to look at the full GATS text, the current schedule of commitments and map the differences. This is an incredibly long agreement and each subsection was very general. For instance, one of the subsections is titled "storage and warehousing services." Storage and warehousing of what, exactly? More digging is required to figure that out.
It took a trade attorney with Public Citizen nearly 3 months to figure out what the document meant - which sectors previously closed to foreign companies would now be open, what being open to foreign companies means (it's more than you'd think) and what the implications could be for the country. I'm going to be writing this up for publication in the next couple weeks as we go public with it all.
Remember that what this document tells us is how far the government is willing to go to be allowed to continue to make it more difficult for people to spend their own money doing something that is perfectly legal in virtually every state. It tells us what they are willing to sell out in order to pay back the EU for the lost revenue of being shut out of our markets.
So here's a tease: it may have some fairly serious national security implications. Stay tuned.