Transcript: Thom Hartmann: The Big Picture: We are slaves to so-called Free Trade & the WTO. 8 July '11

Another 5 to 4 ruling came down from the Supreme Court - with the five right-wing justices giving Texas Governor Rick Perry the go-ahead to execute a Mexican citizen.

The case of Humberto Leal Garcia - convicted of rape and murder - drew both domestic and international criticism when it was learned that Texas police had denied Garcia his right to contact the Mexican consulate - the embassy - upon being arrested.

According to the Vienna Convention - which President Nixon signed and our Senate ratified - any person arrested in any nation where they're not a citizen has the right to contact their embassy - and in the case of Humberto Garcia - that right was ignored by the police in Texas.

Because of that treaty - a UN tribunal ordered a stay of execution - a number of legal and foreign policy experts advised against the execution - President Obama raised concerns over the execution - and even George W. Bush pushed for a stay of execution.

And Senator Patrick Leahy introduced legislation to force Texas to put off the execution and recognize our international obligations under the Vienna Convention.

Perry ignored all of it though - and it came down to a last-ditch effort in the Supreme Court to prevent America from violating a treaty that we had signed - but the Supreme Court didn’t stop Perry either.

Now if you are arrested abroad - that foreign nation could refuse you your right to see the American embassy.

Weirdly - the Supreme Court ruled that international law has no effect on how states deal with their criminals.

Which is strange considering that international laws have trumped American laws over and over and over in the last two decades since our nation jumped onto the so-called Free Trade bandwagon - and joined the World Trade Organization.

It's an issue I talk about in Chapter 8 of my book - "Unequal Protection".

By joining the World Trade Organization - our nation agreed to follow a whole slew of new international laws that protect so-called Free Trade - the feather in the cap of transnational corporations.

So now - whenever our Congress passes a law that transnational corporations don't like - we can be taken to a WTO court and forced to drop that law.

This happened earlier this year in May - when the WTO took a bite out of US sovereignty - ruling that America can no longer label tuna products as “dolphin safe”.

Why? Because such labeling could deter customers from purchasing certain foreign tuna products that aren't "dolphin safe" - thus limiting “free trade” in the United States.

Not a peep from the Supreme Court, though - this was about corporations making more money.

But that's not all - the WTO has struck down laws in America that ban importation of goods made with child labor - laws that prevent importation of shrimp from transnational corporations that kill sea turtles in the process have been struck down - American laws, struck down - and laws that ban the importation of carcinogenic gasoline additives.

American laws made by American legislators struck down by the international WTO.

Not a word from the Supreme Court on these either - in each case it meant more profits for transnational corporations. Just fine with the Supreme Court.

Ultimately - our nation has lost 9 out of every 10 cases in front of the WTO since joining the organization in 1995.

That means 9 out of 10 times - our nation was forced to change OUR laws - passed by OUR Congress and signed by OUR president - because of what some massive transnational corporation tells us as part of an international treaty.

And our Supreme Court never objected - after all, in every case it meant more money for giant corporations like the ones whose representatives and owners regularly wine and dine Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, and who rankly are paying Thomas's wife's salary.

We're letting the WTO poison us and kill off the environment, all so that more transnational corporate profits can be piled up - and not once has our Supreme Court stepped up to say that treaties should not trump US law in matters of protecting consumers or the environment.

But when it comes to killing a human - the Supreme Court gives Rick Perry the green-light.

This is insanity - and it goes to show just how corrupted the Supreme Court is by transnational corporate interests.

They don't care about human rights - or what sort of danger they're putting Americans abroad in because of their ruling - these guys only care about corporate profits.

And since no corporate profits were at stake in the Garcia case - they didn't give a damn if international law was violated.

It's this "Swiss cheese" approach to American sovereignty that is destroying our nation. It's making us a slave to so-called Free Trade and at the same time making us a pariah in the international community because of things like what Rick Perry just did.

We're supposed to be a nation of laws - and our Constitution explicitly says that if we sign treaties they become part of the law of the land. Right there in the constitution.

But for THIS Supreme Court, what the Constitution says is pretty meaningless.

They even say that when the 14th Amendment was passed in 1868 to free the slaves, Congress and the states actually meant to give political free speech to transnational corporations.

Thomas Jefferson was right, when he complained that the Court, in 1803, had taken too much power for itself in the Marbury case. H said that because of that the Constitution was now - his words - a "thing of wax" in the hands of the Supreme Court.

And because of that, our Constitution is also a "thing of wax" in the hands of the transnational corporations.

We need to wake up and wake up soon.

Check out for more information on what you can do.

That's The Big Picture.


fastlap's picture
fastlap 8 years 32 weeks ago

The Occupy movement should take back the American flag from right-wing conservatives who proclaim themselves patriots. They are not. The Occupiers are the patriots and they are the ones who should be waving the American flag and announcing that we are taking back our country from the 1% and the corporations. I'm a former Marine Corps officer and veteran, and I am tired of seeing my country's flag used as propaganda by right-wing conservatives. Out of ignorance or stupidity, they work to cheat the public of the freedom our soldiers, sailors, and marines have fought and died for--sometimes in wars that were little more than profit centers for corporations and the banks. Occupiers--wave and display the American flag with pride and take our country back! Let's see if the police are willing to put hundreds of American flags into garbage trucks! --Ted

It's Time To Tax Money Bins!

Thom plus logo England is debating a wealth tax. America, as tax revenues crash and the need for government services explodes, needs to consider one, too.

If you own a home, every year you must pay a wealth tax.

The majority of the wealth held by middle and working class Americans is in their homes. And every year, every homeowner must pay a tax on their wealth in the form of a state and local property tax.
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