Named after the Hotel de Bilderberg in Oosterbeek, the Netherlands, where the first Bilderberg confab was held in 1954, the group has met annually ever since, typically under extremely heavy security and extreme secrecy. There are no statements to the press and no publicity of any kind, and heavily armed police and guards keep investigative journalists and curiosity seekers outside a very wide perimeter. This year, the air space above Sitges has been declared a no-fly zone, and vanloads of Spanish police have turned the posh resort into a virtual armed camp.
Nothing so large can be entirely secret, of course. Prominent Bilderberg attendees have included a veritable Who’s Who of the wealthy and well-connected, especially in banking and politics. Past attendees have included U.S. presidents and vice presidents like Bill Clinton and Dan Quayle, British prime ministers (Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, for example), and many of the world’s wealthiest moguls and magnates, including Bill Gates and the seemingly ageless David Rockefeller. Also prominent on the list of “Bilderbergers” are European royalty like the Netherland’s Queen Beatrix and Spain’s monarch Juan Carlos. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has been to the gathering, and so have many movers and shakers in American and European banking and finance.
This year’s guest list allegedly includes World Bank President Robert Zoellick, World Trade Organization Director Pascal Lamy, European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet, and former Spanish vice president and EU commissioner Pedro Solbes, known affectionately as “Mr. Euro.” Also supposedly in attendance in Sitges are top executives from the likes of Siemens AG, Royal Dutch Shell, Chase Manhattan Bank and Morgan Stanley International. Embattled Spanish president Jose Zapatero gave the inaugural address.
Although no agenda has been released to the press, this year’s gathering is likely to focus on the crisis engulfing the Eurozone, in which Spain, with its tottering finances, is playing a central role. The folks who designed the EU and the Euro, after all, were mostly Bilderbergers; one suspects that the organization is not anxious to see one of its grand experiments fail so spectacularly.
Despite the suffocating secrecy surrounding the Bilderberg meetings, details have been leaked to the public over the years. It is now known, for example, that the organization has no members as such, except for the likes of David Rockefeller and Henry Kissinger, who, along with around 30 others, have belonged to a “steering committee” that plans the events and presumably draws up agendas and guest lists. The organization consists of eminenti in poltics, business, and finance from both sides of the Atlantic, and purports to foster trans-Atlantic cooperation; unlike the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg group does not include individuals of prominence from other parts of the world.
According to a 2008 press release from the American Friends of Bilderberg, “Bilderberg's only activity is its annual Conference. At the meetings, no resolutions are proposed, no votes taken, and no policy statements issued.” Yet in spite of such coy claims, the Bilderberg gathering is obviously a nerve center of the world’s power-elite network; the security and secrecy are evidence enough of its significance. Whether planning the occupation of Iran or charting the course of the ongoing European financial, economic, and political merger, the men meeting right now behind sniper rifles and locked doors in Sitges are planning for their own best interests, which are not likely to coincide with yours or mine.