Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Transparency -- Or Lack Thereof

Washington Trade Daily was informed yesterday by the Treasury Department – a day after World Press Freedom Day – that it has been denied press credentials to cover the much touted US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, a two-day meeting beginning next week.

WTD has covered the annual event since the beginning whenever it was held in Washington or its environs.
The reason Treasury gave is the lack of room for a large contingent of reporters.
The real reason, WTD was told by one very special credentialed press member, is that Treasury wants to keep news – or lack thereof – of the gathering at a very low profile and would prefer no reporting on the critical economic issue of Chinese currency.

Only a handful of select “Treasury” correspondents will be allowed to cover the event, WTD was told.
While the United States wants to turn off the free press spigot, the Chinese – as has been the case in previous years – will likely brief its large press contingent almost continuously.

Don’t worry reader. WTD will get the information, even if it means stealing from the Chinese press.

The lack of transparency which is increasingly characterizing the Obama Administration continues to spread. In the case of trade – of which WTD has the most experience – the current US Trade Representative continues to hide his personal behind the walls at the Winder Building on 18th Street. While small private-sector organizations – both academic and ideological – continue their efforts to hold public sessions on the various aspects of US trade policy, there is seldom to be seen any participant from USTR, the Commerce Department or the Treasury Department.

The State Department has been more generous in letting its employees out to explain US trade policy. It must be noted that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earlier in the week addressed the issue of press freedom around the world.

But, as usual, I suppose the United States is the exception where general rules of the game and fair-play do not apply.

Jim Berger

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