Tag Archives: Michael Meacher

Telfs 2015: where the hollow men of Bilderberg see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil

The InterAlpen Hotel is vast pyramidal complex that soars atop the pine forests close to the ski resort of Seefeld and brings to mind Hitler’s magnificent “Eagle’s Nest” (Kehlsteinhaus) retreat perched high in the mountains above Obersalzberg, approximately one hundred kilometers east along the same northern border of Austria (as the eagle flies). Gathered there above the mists for their annual “private” meeting last weekend, the attendees of the Bilderberg group came for what purpose?

InterAlpen Hotel nr Seefeld, Austria

 

Hitler’s “Eagle’s Nest”

To begin to answer this question we must straightaway acknowledge two points. Firstly, that Bilderberg is just part (presumably a key part) of an extensive network of private groups, institutes, ‘think tanks’ and other meetings that include, in descending order of secrecy, the Trilateral Commission, the US Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), its UK cousin the Royal Institute of International Affairs (better known as Chatham House), and the World Economic Forum in Davos. Bilderberg is the most prestigious and certainly the most “private” of all these.

Secondly, each of these Anglo-American establishment organisations is structured around its own internal hierarchy. At the head of Bilderberg, we have its Steering Committee, and so, for the newbies and the underlings turning up in Austria, the motivation is likely to be rather different than for the true movers and shakers.

To the parvenus, invitation opens the door to what is surely the world’s premier networking event. And between the frenetic bouts of lobbying, we should imagine there is time enough for altogether more obsequious displays of bowing and scraping. But what about the old guard? Do they too set aside this blank space in their busy diaries just to go and fawn over one another whilst marshalling the initiation of the latest cohort of Bilderberg fags.* For if Bilderberg is really as innocuous as its members claim, then this must be all that ever happens inside its cloistered halls.

Or put differently, we might respectfully ask: for what reasons was Bilderberg founded? What was and is its raison d’être?

* Note of clarification: ‘fag’ in this context is simply English public school-ese for a freshman.

*

There are no eyes here

Once upon a time there was no such creature as the Bilderberg club. It was rumoured to exist, but the rumours were evidently nonsensical. How could any such meeting of the world’s richest and most powerful people be kept a secret? Furthermore, since the only person who claimed proof of the group’s existence, a man by the name of Jim Tucker (self-described as a journalist) had nothing substantial to show us, he was plainly delusional. Decades spent shinning up drainpipes and clambering around the bushes of faraway five-star hotels in the forlorn hope of seeing just a glimpse of this imaginary band of furtive elites had clearly taken its toll. “Big Jim” would write reports to the effect that he had personally tracked Bilderberg down to locations all over the western world, but the serious media sensibly kept a wide berth. “Big Jim” was totally paranoid. They knew there was nothing to see.

Then in 2001, along came oddball human interest reporter Jon Ronson. He had heard about Jim Tucker and fancied going along on one of his legendary wild goose chases. A trail that soon led them to a remote hotel in Portugal where bewitched by Tucker’s stories, Ronson fell under his spell and began seeing the scurrying politicians and plutocrats for himself: a figure very like Peter Mandelson peering out of the tinted windows of a coach, and there were major league corporate bosses too, as well as billionaires such as the wrathlike David Rockefeller, all sneaking through the hotel gates in the backseats of limousines and taxi cabs. Sheer madness.

The tale of Ronson’s adventure in Portugal featured as the fifth and final part of the Channel 4 documentary series The Secret Rulers of the World. The fantasy of the late Jim Tucker, vindicated as strange fact, with Ronson finally shifting the focus to ask what really does go on at the clandestine gatherings of Bilderberg? He called upon a couple of attendees to speak on Bilderberg’s behalf, one being former Labour bigwig Denis Healey, but apparently there was nothing worth speaking about. Schmoozing. High security schmoozing. Nothing more.

Jon Ronson was later interviewed by Neil Davenport, a freelance TV and film critic:

‘What I’m trying to say with these programmes’, says Ronson, ‘is that the crazy people are on to something, but what they’re on to is very different to what they imagined it to be’.

However Ronson is much too quick in leaping to his own conclusions, and especially when he explains to Davenport that:

‘They [conspiracy theorists] believe that businessmen or judges should be making decisions, as they’re not corrupt. But by taking power away from politicians, they want to take power away from the electorate too.’ 1

I wonder who he imagines he is speaking for. For Bilderberg is what it is. A private meeting place for a clique of corporate privateers (including convicted felons) evidently intent upon “taking power away from the electorate” (as Ronson puts it) and into the crooked hands of political lackeys. The elected politicians who do go there, go to swap notes, and most certainly not to dictate policy:

It is very easy to write off the Bilderberg Group, which met in utter secrecy in Watford a week ago, as just a private get-together of high-powered colleagues from across the Western world which regularly meets to exchange views. That was the view peddled by Ken Clarke amid much buffoonery and mockery in the Commons. It is equally easy, as the BBC did the day before, to get a ranter of dubious credibility [viz. Alex Jones] to go over the top in portraying Bilderberg as a secretive worldwide conspiracy. Neither of these presentations stand up to any serious scrutiny, but establishing the realities is difficult partly because of the secrecy in which the whole operation is shrouded. But there are some significant leads.

So wrote Labour MP Michael Meacher after the group came to England in 2013. Meacher was the single British Member of Parliament bold enough to make a speech to the thousands who went to protest. I was there and videoed his speech (posted on youtube and embedded in an earlier post).

In the same article, Meacher delves a little deeper, starting with the group’s extremely unsavoury post-war origins:

Bilderberg was founded in 1954 by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. He was a Nazi party member from 1933-37 who resigned one day after his controversial marriage to the future Queen of the Netherlands. In 1934 he was the subject of a report by a US Congress committee which identified him as an SS officer attached to the Nazi government’s principal industrial ally, IG Farben. The minutes of the first Bilderberg meeting declared their aim as “to evolve an international order which would look beyond the present day crisis. When the time is ripe our present concepts of world affairs should be extended to the whole world”. 2

Click here to read Michael Meacher’s full article “The Bilderberg smell still lingers”.

This stated aim, “to evolve an international order”, sounds oddly like the rather more paranoid sounding claim: that Bilderberg is out to construct a “new world order”. But the very term “new world order”, which has been used by such luminaries as George Bush Sr., Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Henry Kissinger, adds a lot more heat than light. For what do they mean by it? And coming back to Bilderberg (where all five of the aforementioned have attended) how could such an ambitious goal be realisable given that its membership, although highly exclusive, is constantly evolving? Isn’t it only Bond villains who dream of such world domination…

Yet members of Bilderberg rarely deny, at least, when cornered on the subject, that they are striving in part for the formation of a fully-functioning world government. It is most urgent, they say, if we are ever to bring about peace and prosperity, adding that these can only be achieved through effective ‘global governance’ and ‘internationalism’. But this is deceptive, of course – deliberately so – since aside from being composed of warmongers of the first degree (and I shall list further attendees as we proceed), the globalists who head Bilderberg are clearly not very serious when it comes to fostering good relations between all nations. Rather, they would prefer that the nation state wither away altogether, to be replaced by supranational bodies.

More honestly stated Bilderberg (headed by a mix of international financiers, corporate bosses and, perhaps more surprisingly, a number of European monarchs) alongside its affiliated Anglo-American institutions and bodies (mentioned above) are primarily intent to expand their already well-established corporate empire. They prefer to do this by a steady process of transformation rather than forcing an abrupt revolution; taking baby steps as they set about reforming international relations and recreating a world without borders, hence “global”. The latest moves include the introduction of TPP and TTIP – “free trade agreements” that will further dismantle national sovereignty.

So if you were to sum up their admitted goal in just three words then ‘globalist corporate hegemony’ fits perfectly. Alternatively, you might sum up the organisation with these three instead: organised crime syndicate. Frankly, if they didn’t own half the world already, including the major media outlets, don’t you think they would be behind bars by now?

Jim Tucker’s exposure of Bilderberg took tenacity and great courage. Not only did his investigations put him in immediate danger, but penetrating Bilderberg meant trusting his instincts and believing his own eyes. It is easy to mock “Big Jim”, as Ronson does gently throughout the documentary, and right to question his judgment in other ways (for instance, his dewy-eyed weakness for Margaret Thatcher). Nevertheless, Tucker was also a trailblazer.

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This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech

(apologies to T.S. Eliot) 3

Although the group cloaks itself in secrecy, it does have a spokesman who, not surprisingly, asked not to be named. He said Bilderberg operates in private to foster meaningful debate on the big issues of the day.

“While we understand and generally welcome the general interest in the conference, we simply cannot provide the levels of access or transparency that certain individuals or groups would like to see,” the spokesman said in an email. “To encourage the highest level of openness and dialogue among the participants, and to keep the private character of the meetings, all participants respect the Chatham House Rule.” 4

This comes from an article published in the Washington Times on the eve of the meeting [Thurs 11th].

It came as a surprise to many, myself included, that a group which had feigned its own nonexistence until about a decade ago, now employs a spokesman, albeit an entirely anonymous one. More surprising again, is his/her claim that the Bilderberg group “welcome the general interest in the conference”, especially since this was not what the handful of reporters on the ground had been saying. But then, if Bilderberg was suddenly so open to outside interest why is there any “news blackout” (as the story’s own headline puts it) at all? In fact, why didn’t the Washington Times dispatch some of its own reporters directly to Austria? Charlie Skelton, who was there on the ground and reporting for the Guardian (although not the front page of course), supplies part of the answer:

The clock has struck midnight. The dream is over. Back at the G7 summit, barely a day and 20 miles from here, I was treated like a prince. I was one of the chosen 3,000 journalists who were primped, pampered, fed and burped, given free T-shirts, gallons of goulash, buckets of booze, and all the cheesy footage of world leaders we could swallow. We lay back on our branded beanbags and were tickled silly by the gentle fist of the G7 PR machine. But not any more. The beanbag has burst.

Taken from his second report of his annual “Bilderblog”.

That was Wednesday [June 10th] and the latest crop of the hundred and more attendees hadn’t even arrived at this year’s luxury venue in the Alps. Skelton was one of just a tiny handful of journalists (the mainstream media’s sole reporter), but security was already firmly locked down, and about to tighten:

“Step out of the vehicle and show me your identification!” A group of Austrian police officers took up position round my car. I pulled on the handbrake and opened the door. I swear to God one young officer shifted his hand to the butt of his sidearm, like I was about to rush them. All 12 of them. All armed. Maybe if there had only been 10 I might have taken them down using a slingshot improvised from my shoelaces, but not 12. I might be crazy but I’m not nuts. 5

Some 2,000 Austrian police including “Cobra” special forces had been drafted to guard the hotel and surrounding woods. There to patrol exclusion zones that extended quite literally miles, with military helicopters circling overhead, as well as the Bilderberg’s own anti-aircraft radar system. 6 Checkpoints into the neighbouring village of Telfs sent a stark message to both public and press alike to keep away:

Charlie Skelton compared the manner in which these very same security services, so courteous at G7 (to the press, at least – G7 was locked down to exclude public protests), were suddenly acting in a far more provocative manner. And later that night, his personal experience of police harassment was to intensify considerably:

I had three Austrian policemen in my hotel room last night. They stood there all grim faced with their fluorescent bibs, torches and sidearms. It was like the worst ever fancy dress party. I offered them a pilsner. They declined. They were too busy checking my ID that had been carefully checked 10 minutes prior at a police checkpoint. And carefully checked two minutes prior to that, at another police checkpoint.

This was his report from Thursday [June 11th]. The conference still yet to begin, but police and security services going out of their way to be as unaccommodating to journalists as possible. Once again, Skelton draws comparison to what he had experienced at the G7 only days earlier:

In my trouser pocket I found a “Medienhandbuch” from the G7, which I was given in my goodie bag when I was accredited there. By the light of a police searchlight, which was trained on me like I was trying to escape Stalag 17, I read out passages to my guards to pass the time. “Experienced staff from the Federal Government will be happy to help you with your work …” An officer interrupted. “Your address please.” It was on my driving licence in his hand. This was getting silly. 7

Silly, yes, but Skelton knows very well why he had become such a centre of attention. This was not the first time he found himself on the wrong side of the Bilderberg cordons:

The thing is, I never really came here to “cover” Bilderberg. I just thought it would be funny to hang out at the cordon and wear T-shirts saying things like “NOBILIZATION!”. It’s really very peculiar to look back at my first report and watch myself pretending to dodge spooks on dark streets. Ha ha ha. And now? I’ve hidden twice in the same stairwell in Athens to try to shake off the men following me. I have a favourite bolthole in Athens city centre. That’s how much my life has changed.

I’ve grappled with men in a Metro station; I’ve screamed for help in Omonoia Square; I’ve shouted “You’re lying to me!” at detectives in an Athens police station; I’ve grabbed a man riding off on a motorbike and begged him – almost in tears – to “leave me alone”; I’ve been yelled at, arrested, followed, searched, shoved, maligned, intimidated, doubted and lied to. So many lies.

This was Skelton’s personal initiation to Bilderberg when the group met near Athens in May 2009. The way he was treated freaked him out big time, just as it had freaked out Jon Ronson when he was chased by security during the Portuguese meeting in Sintra of 1999.

As Skelton concluded in the same Guardian article:

I’ve told the truth about what has happened to me this week. I wonder if the various British politicians who have attended Bilderberg 2009 could bring themselves to tell the truth about how they spent their time. I wonder if someone better than me, a better reporter, a more powerful voice, a politician even, could ask them. Anyone?

My dispatches on the 2009 conference, if they mean anything at all, represent nothing more acutely than the absence of thorough mainstream reporting. I am pretty much the opposite of what’s needed. I am a joke. These dispatches are a travesty. A travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham. A disgrace to the good name of journalism. I should be ashamed. 8

Click here to read Charlie Skelton’s full article.

And as he pointed out in his first report for this year’s “Bilderblog”, entitled “Forget the G7 summit – Bilderberg is where the big guns go”:

Bilderberg 2015 has an extremely high-powered participant list, featuring a large number of senior politicians and public figures. With participants this powerful, and an agenda containing this many hot topics, the Telfs policy conference is sure to be covered in depth by the world’s press. And by “sure to be”, I mean probably won’t be. For reasons that, as ever, escape me. 9

A comment beneath his article reads:

“For reasons that, as ever, escape me.”

“Reason, as ever, escapes me.” There you go, Charlie. Fixed it for you.

A second added:

Oh, there you are…. Every year, like clock work, to spread your move along- nothing to see here- cheer….

Anticipation for what you might add to the discussion is ever hopeful!

But the reasons don’t escape Skelton. He knows the score too and these comments are unfair. Skelton is as much humourist as journalist (very much like Jon Ronson in this regard), and his understated, laconic delivery presumably helps persuade his vacillating editor that it’s safe to send him back to the Bilderberg frontline. Skelton knows – since we all know – that the reason the press coverage is scant (to say the least) is not because the press is disinterested, but because they are hugely compromised.

For every mainstream outlet has close, whether direct or indirect, associations with Bilderberg. For instance, the Guardian’s former editor Alan Rusbridger, who is still on the board of the Scott Trust which owns the Guardian and the Observer, is a former governor of the Ditchley Foundation , whose current governors also include (to offer a flavour) Lord Aldington, former Chairman of Deutsche Bank London, Robert Conway, Senior Director of Goldman Sachs International, Constanze Stelzenmüller senior fellow of the Brookings Institution, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, both former diplomat and former Director of the Ditchley Foundation, as well as, John Sawers, ex-Chief of MI6. In short, Ditchley is a mini-Bilderberg group. Indeed, membership crosses over between the groups: so, for instance, John Sawers was at last year’s Bilderberg meeting in Copenhagen as well as this year’s meeting in Telfs-Buchen.

Others on this year’s official list (which is reliably incomplete) included Zanny Minton Beddoes, Editor-in-Chief of The Economist; Martin Wolf, Chief Economics Commentator at The Financial Times; John Micklethwait, Editor-in-Chief of Bloomberg LP; Merete Eldrup, CEO of TV 2 Danmark A/S (a publicly owned Danish television station), and perhaps more surprisingly, Rona Fairhead, Chairman of the BBC Trust. The media are, as always, exceedingly well represented. Because, if you wish to silence the press, you need to involve them.

Charlie Skelton’s final “Bilderblog” report of 2015 expands on the same theme. Apparently it wasn’t just the press keeping schtum about events in Austria:

Weaving down the alp came the Bilderbus, taking delegates on a whistlestop tour of the Tyrol. Buzzing along above it, at a crazy height, was its helicopter escort. I swear I could have bounced a euro off the roof of the coach and into the blades. If I’d wanted to have been dropped by an NSA sniper.

In the coach below it must have been like being in a washing machine. No wonder the delegates on board looked grumpy. Sitting up front, Jessica T Mathews had a face like thunder. Although maybe the cause of her headache wasn’t the helicopter, but rather the howling contradiction of being on the steering committee of the world’s most secretive policy summit and also on the advisory council of Transparency International USA.

Also on the bus was James Wolfensohn. A fellow member of TI-USA’s advisory council, Wolfensohn was the joint winner of their 2014 “integrity award”, an honour he shared with that other famous transparency campaigner, and the world’s fourth-biggest arms company, Raytheon. Previous winners of the integrity award include (and I kid you not) Coca-Cola, General Electric and the then secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton. The great email deleter herself. I think someone should tell TI-USA what “transparency” means. There may have been a mix-up somewhere down the line.

When it comes to transparency, this year’s Bilderberg summit fails in every way imaginable. Three prime ministers, two foreign ministers, one president, no press conference. No public oversight. Just a bunch of senior policymakers locked away for three days with some incredibly powerful corporate lobbyists, discussing subjects intimately related to public policy. Subjects such as “globalisation” and “current economic issues”, which in practical terms mean the giant trade deal, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Click here to read more from Charlie Skelton’s excellent “Bilderblog”

Where once there was a deadening silence over Bilderberg, at least there is a little more coverage across the European media these days. But now that Bilderberg officially exists, they would prefer us to simply yawn-yawn about the jaw-jaw. Nothing to hear here.

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Rats’ feet over broken glass

The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal. From the viewpoint of our legal institutions and of our moral standards of judgment, this normality was much more terrifying than all the atrocities put together, for it implied — as had been said at Nuremberg over and over again by the defendants and their counsels — that this new type of criminal, who is in actual fact hostis generis humani [“enemy of mankind”], commits his crimes under circumstances that make it well-nigh impossible for him to know or to feel that he is doing wrong. 10

So wrote Hannah Arendt after she had watched Adolf Eichmann testify during his trial in Jerusalem in 1961. What shocked her most of all was how this evil and powerful man (relatively speaking) could be so dull, so mediocre, and so absolutely unrepentant. Arendt was searching for a philosophical explanation for this, but is there one? Or even a psychological account?

Arendt perhaps is better known for coining the phrase “the banality of evil”, which she repeats on a number of occasions throughout her works, although she never precisely defines what she means by it. One approximate definition she did give goes along the lines that ‘the banality of evil wasn’t the presence of something, but its absence – something you expected to be there, but just isn’t’ 11

Today we might talk about the sociopath and the psychopath (Arendt does not speculate much in this regard), which is another subject journalist Jon Ronson went on to explore in his more recent study, The Psychopath Test.

Ever the gentle persuader, in a few hundred pages, Ronson conveys the opinion that psychopathy is under-diagnosed even more frequently than it is over-diagnosed, being very nearly as difficult to identify, as it is impossible to treat (according to current wisdom). He also points to how psychopaths and sociopaths tend to see themselves as respectable and normal, and importantly, how they possess character traits enabling them to become highly successful:

It wasn’t only Bob [Hare – author of the Psychopathy Checklist] who believed that a disproportionate number of psychopaths can be found in high places. In the days after Essi Viding had first mentioned the theory to me I spoke to scores of psychologists who all said exactly the same. One was Martha Stout from the Harvard Medical School and author of The Sociopath Next Door. (You may be wondering what the difference is between a psychopath and a sociopath, and the answer is, there really isn’t one. Psychologists and psychiatrists around the world tend to use the terms interchangeably.) They are everywhere, she said. They are in the crowded restaurant where you have your lunch. They are in your open-plan office. […]

‘Sociopaths love power. They love winning. If you take loving kindness out of the human brain there’s not much left except the will to win.’

‘Which means you’ll find a preponderance of them at the top of the tree?’ I said.

‘Yes,’ she said, ‘The higher you go up the ladder the greater the number of sociopaths you’ll find there.’ 12

Henry Kissinger was attending this year’s Bilderberg confab just as he attends nearly every Bilderberg meeting. He has been an insider since its inception and there are few, if any, Bilderberg insiders more powerful or sociopathic than Kissinger. This superstar of Bilderberg holds the accolade for being both a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and the single greatest war criminal alive. So did those sharing a glass of wine with him at the InterAlpen Hotel stop to ask about his involvement in the overthrow of elected governments across Latin America, about the death squads and the torture rooms, or about the napalm raining down on the children of Indochina? We can only guess.

As Martha Stout explained to Ronson, those with psychopathic leaning tend to doubt that such a thing as conscience really exists in any case, or alternatively, believe that the rest of us are too restrained by it, and should instead be more relaxed in their morals like they are. A big reason, of course, why being psychopathic helps one to get ahead.

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Aside from the official list of participants (always incomplete, but indicative nonetheless) there are a few other clues posted on the Bilderberg official website (up since 2010) that offer a glimpse of what might laughingly be described as this year’s ‘agenda’:

Back in the 1950s, when Bernhard sent out the invitations, it was to discuss “a number of problems facing western civilization”. These days, the Bilderberg Group prefers to call them “megatrends”. The megatrends on this year’s agenda include: “What next for Europe?”, “Ukraine”, “Intelligence sharing” and “Does privacy exist?”

That comes from another Charlie Skelton report but on last year’s 60th anniversary meeting in Copenhagen, when Bilderberg first officially posted its ‘agenda’. As Skelton points out:

That’s an exquisite irony: the world’s most secretive conference discussing whether privacy exists. Certainly for some it does. It’s not just birthday bunting that’s gone up in Copenhagen: there’s also a double ring of three-metre (10ft) high security fencing. The hotel is teeming with security: lithe gentlemen in loose slacks and dark glasses, trying not to kill the birthday vibe. Or anyone else. 13

This year’s “megatrends” had become fifteen “key topics for discussion”. 14 Bullet points again, no details. So we are left to interpret as we might do the silently drifting spots on a radar screen. Or, after dark, upon hearing the clink of empty bottles and the unseen rustle of rummaging about the dustbin…

That ‘Greece’ floats high amongst the fifteen items hardly comes as a surprise. Nor was it surprising to learn that no actual representatives of the Greek government were invited to attend the meeting. Syriza were never any part of the Bilderberg set.

According to the list, discussion also ventured into matters concerning the ‘United Kingdom’ and ‘European Strategy’. While other “key topics for discussion” dealt with the ‘Middle East’, ‘Iran’, ‘Russia’, ‘Terrorism’, ‘Chemical Weapons Threats’ and ‘NATO’. So what can we make of these bullet points, aside from discerning the contempt which Bilderberg holds for the general public, teasing us by withholding all but this shopping list of its secret dealings, whilst making a pretence of greater openness.

Well, the consensus at Bilderberg – shared by both top globalist elites and their flunkeys alike (you only get an invite if you fit one of these categories) – consists in two main parts: a zealotry for neo-liberal economics and a partial taste (at the very least) for neo-conservative foreign policy. Of course, neo-liberalism was normalised long ago, and very much thanks to ex-Bilderberger Margaret Thatcher. For is there any self-respecting politician or media hack who is not a devout neo-liberalist these days? By contrast, neo-conservatism lost what little allure it ever held once Bush and Blair had wrung out the last drops of post-9/11 sympathy to legitimise their retaliatory slaughter of farmers in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But after Bush and Blair left office, rather than signalling an end to the bloodletting, the foreign adventuring continued unabated, initially by means of Obama’s expansion into drone warfare, and subsequently with Nato’s “kinetic action” which brought “shock and awe” first to Libya, and then thanks to covert support for our Islamist proxies, spread the ensuing chaos to Syria and into Iraq (yet again). These endless wars are now sanctioned by a new breed of ‘humanitarian bombers’ though they were mostly instigated by such avowed neo-cons as Richard Perle and David Petraeus (the convicted felon whose role was so central to the fall of Libya), both of whom were back at Bilderberg this year.

It is according to such ideologies that ordinary people are either crushed by the market’s ‘invisible hand’, or else, in more distant places, flayed by the neo-imperialist sword of “intervention”. Neo-liberalism translating into ceaseless cuts to public services and the never-ending sell-off of national assets, yet always set against the need for additional tax monies to be redirected to fund drone strikes and bombing raids against the insurgents/terrorists/despotic regimes – a single airstrike costing as much as £1 million.

Returning more specifically to consider Bilderberg’s list of fifteen items under discussion, and Greece is perhaps their most urgent priority: Syriza’s resoluteness causing a tremendous headache for the bankers and their political cronies (who make up the bigger half of every Bilderberg conference). For though Syriza refuses to sever its financial ties with Europe (for perfectly sound economic reasons), it equally refuses to submit to further punishment in the form of continuing “austerity”. Worst of all, it is gaining in popularity.

As a number establishment figures have candidly announced, it is of paramount importance that the Greeks are seen to lose in their fight against “austerity”. For a reversal would possibly trigger a domino effect: an extraordinary political realignment with the rise of genuine ‘pro-democracy’ parties across the Mediterranean. Greece is therefore a powder keg for the powers-that-be, and so ‘Grexit’, although destabilising the broader European project, appears to have become a preferred option for those who see repayment of debts as sacrosanct. What comes next for Greece, if they do not fall into line? Wasn’t this the real question behind the Bilderberg bullet point…?

Meanwhile, the ‘United Kingdom’ now presents a problem of a related but diametrically opposite kind. The danger that one of Europe’s largest economies (on paper at least) might soon vote to exit the European Union is hardly a step forward in any grander visions of globalisation. So ‘Brexit’, as it is already being called, is unlikely to be viewed so favourably as ‘Grexit’.

Otherwise, given the familiar Bilderberg mix of delegates, liberally spiced with neo-cons and military top brass, compounded by such a stack of the old enemies piled up on that list of “key topics for discussion”, oughtn’t we to presume a further push for war? Since no-one at Bilderberg is telling, we are, as always, left to conjecture (or else to think nothing more about any of it).

‘It is a frightening and huge thought,’ I [Jon Ronson] said, ‘that the ninety-nine per cent of us wandering around down here are having our lives pushed and pulled around by that psychopathic fraction up there.’

‘It is a large thought,’ she [Martha Stout] said. ‘It is a thought people don’t have very often. Because we’re raised to believe that deep down everyone has conscience.’ 15

Click here to read the full press release on the Bilderberg official website.

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Oddly, this year’s official list of attendees was also reprinted by the Daily Mail in an article entitled “Revealed: Guestlist for secretive Bilderberg includes Osborne, Balls, BBC Trust chief, spies, bankers and royalty”. A headline which rather succinctly encapsulates who really runs the show – with Ed Balls serving the coffee apparently:

Those on the guest list this week include the heads of banking and financial giants including Deutsche Bank, Santander, AXA Group, JP Morgan, HSBC, BlackRock and Goldman Sachs.

Senior figures from Royal Dutch Shell, BP, AXA Group, Google, Airbus, Fiat Chrysler, LinkedIn, Siemens and Ryanair are also expected.[…]

Senior figures from around the world include Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the President of Austria Heinz Fischer, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel and ministers from Sweden, the US, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Jim Messina, a former Obama adviser who worked on David Cameron’s election winning campaign in Britain, is also on the list. [further thoughts at the end]

Guests also include Thomas Ahrenkiel, director of the Danish Intelligence Service, former European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Nato General Secretary Jens Stolberg. [all emphasis added]

But still The Mail can’t resist the worn-out distraction about “conspiracy theorists”, adding:

Conspiracy theorists believe this is where leaders plot world domination. 16

As one of the comments posted beneath read:

There is no conspiring going on here. Just folks getting together to discuss how best to run the world for their own benefit. 17

You can read earlier reports about the previous four Bilderberg meetings in St Moritz 2011, Chantilly 2012, Watford 2013 (where I personally joined the protests) and Copenhagen 2014 by clicking on the Bilderberg tag below.

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Additional: ‘US elections’

American political adviser Jim Messina is getting credit for leading conservative British Prime Minister David Cameron to an overwhelming, if surprising victory, but he said Friday that once he comes back to the United States, he’s Hillary Clinton “all the time.”

“I’m coming home tomorrow and it’s whatever it will take to get Hillary [elected],” Messina said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program.

Click here to read more at newsmax.com

Bilderberg has a long history of inviting future Prime Ministers and Presidents to its conference. Thatcher in 1975 and Clinton in 1991 are the two best known examples, but there are many others. Before being elected as Canadian Prime Ministers, Pierre Trudeau (1968), Paul Martin (1996), Jean Chrétien (also 1996) and current PM Stephen Harper (2003) had all attended Bilderberg meetings, as did US President Gerald Ford (1964, 1966) and British PMs Tony Blair (1993) and Gordon Brown (1991).

This time around we have instead an election advisor, Jim Messina, who helped the Tories to victory in last month’s General Election and is suddenly linked to one of the forerunners in the 2016 campaign, Hillary Clinton. Added to which we know that the last item of Bilderberg’s stated fifteen “key topics for discussion” was ‘US Elections’. Not that Hillary is new to Bilderberg…

But we should keep in mind that Bilderberg is a cross-party event, so why put all of its eggs into one party political basket? If Hillary is the preferred choice for Democratic nomination (as it appears), then who might they choose for the red corner?

In his first major international appearance since signaling his readiness to run for office, the former governor of Florida acknowledged that some might question the setting of his speech. “One possible question which might be asked is: why is an American politician who might run for president in Berlin, Germany? And not in places like Berlin, New Hampshire, or Berlin, Iowa?

“The short answer is, this journey has other purposes.

That is taken from a Guardian report on Jeb Bush’s recent visit to Germany and his appearance in Berlin shortly after the G7 summit. It continues (a little further on):

His address to business leaders was the highlight of a visit which included discussions with politicians and policy makers. The trip was organised by a Bush family friend, former World Bank chief Robert Zoellick, who was also involved in reunification negotiations as the elder Bush’s White House adviser. 18

Two days later, his friend Robert Zoellick, now of Goldman Sachs, was at the meeting in Telfs. Zoellick holds a seat on the Bilderberg steering committee. Rumour has it that Jeb may have quietly followed him up there.

Another regular Bilderberg attendee in Telfs was Peter Thiel. Thiel, a venture capitalist and hedge fund manager, was a co-founder of PayPal and is also a major investor in Facebook. During the 2008 US Presidential elections, Thiel had endorsed Ron Paul, and then again during the 2012 elections, Thiel and the other PayPal co-founders, Luke Nosek and Scott Banister, “put their support behind the Endorse Liberty Super PAC” to elect Ron Paul. 19

Since then, Peter Thiel has switched his allegiance to Ron Paul’s son Rand:

In his Playbook newsletter Sunday, Politico’s Mike Allen reported Paul, who is considering a presidential bid in 2016, “had private sit-downs with the investor Peter Thiel and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg” while at the conference. Allen described Paul’s presence at the confab as “another sign of how far he has come since his insurgent victory as a Tea Party torch-bearer.” 20

Rand Paul, who back on April 7th announced he was running for President, is mistaken by many, especially libertarians, as a political outsider, when in fact he has been and continues to be openly backed by Peter Thiel who sits alongside José Barroso, Jean-Claude Trichet, Richard Perle, Robert Zoellick, and others, also on the Bilderberg steering committee 21.

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Update: before, during and after Telfs 2015

On the eve of the meeting, Luke Rudkowski spoke with veteran Bilderberg reporter Mark Anderson – a very informative and insightful discussion:

 

Luke Rudkowski covers the high security at Telfs (including scrambled jets) and the street protests:

 

On the way home, Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis were confronted by Press for Truth reporter, Dan Dicks, at Innsbruck airport security checks.

 

Henry Kravis, the co-founder of private equity firm KKR (or Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.), is one of the wealthiest people on earth. He is a trustee of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and has been a political sponsor of both George Bush Sr. and John McCain. His wife Marie-Josée serves on the international advisory board of the Federal Reserve.

In May 2013, Henry Kravis, a member of the Steering Committee, had appointed David Petraeus as Chairman of KKR Global Institute saying, “I have long known and respected General Petraeus”:

 

Meanwhile, also spotted in Innsbruck was James Wolfensohn, former President of the World Bank, an honorary trustee of the Brookings Institute, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, who supposedly wasn’t there at all!

 

Finally, here are Dan Dicks, Luke Rudkowski and Jeff Berwick comparing the treatment they received at G7 with that at Bilderberg:

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1 From a review of “The Secret Rulers of the World” written by Neil Davenport, published in Spiked magazine on May 4, 2001. http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/11666#.VXxysFKKWUk

2 From an article entitled “The Bilderberg smell still lingers” written by Michael Meacher, published on June 19, 2013. http://www.michaelmeacher.info/weblog/2013/06/the-bilderberg-smell-still-lingers/ 

3 Stolen lines misappropriated from T.S.Eliot’s The  Hollow Men (as are the headings for each section)

4 From an article entitled “Bilderberg Group meets amid conspiracy theories, heavy security, news blackout” written by Dave Boyer, published in the Washington Times on June 11, 2015. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jun/11/bilderberg-group-meets-amid-heavy-security-news-bl/?page=all#pagebreak

5 From an article entitled “At the G7, we journalists were pampered – at Bilderberg we’re harassed by police” written by Charlie Skelton, published in the Guardian on June 10, 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/10/at-g7-we-journalists-pampered-bilderberg-we-harassed-by-police

6

Some 2,100 extra police will be on duty over the coming days, with protesters planning to stage a demonstration on Saturday, and the only road leading to the hotel is blocked.

And for good measure, the Kronen-Zeitung tabloid cited the military as saying a “special low-altitude radar is in position and Kiowa helicopters armed with machine guns are carrying out patrols”.

From an article entitled “Never mind the G7 or Davos, it’s Bilderberg time” written by Simon Sturdee, published in Business Insider on June 11, 2015. http://www.businessinsider.com/afp-never-mind-the-g7-or-davos-its-bilderberg-time-2015-6?IR=T

7 From an article entitled “Bilderberg 2015: where criminals mingle with ministers” written by Charlie Skelton, published in the Guardian on June 11, 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/11/continual-police-checks-ruining-bilderberg-party

8 From an article entitled “Our man at Bilderberg: Fear my pen” written by Charlie Skelton, published in the Guardian on May 18, 2009. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/may/18/bilderberg-charlie-skelton-dispatch

9 From an article entitled “Forget the G7 summit – Bilderberg is where the big guns go” written by Charlie Skelton, published in the Guardian on June 8, 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/08/bilderberg-summit-forget-the-g7

10 From the Epilogue of Eichmann in Jerusalem: A report on the Banality of Evil written by Hannah Arendt, published in 1963.

11 Taken from an interview given by Errol Morris, director of the documentary “The Unknown Known” about Donald Rumsfeld, in which he discusses what was satisfying about making the film. Morris says he has always been fascinated by one of Hannah Arendt’s definitions of the phrase “The Banality of Evil,” even before her article “Eichmann in Jerusalem”:

She said that the banality of evil wasn’t the presence of something. It’s the absence of something. Something that you would expect to be there, but just isn’t. And maybe, that’s what this film is about.

12 Taken from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry,Ch4,  pp117–9, by Jon Ronson, published by Picador, 2011.

13 From an article entitled “Bilderberg at 60: inside the world’s most secretive conference” written by Charlie Skelton, published by the Guardian on May 29, 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/29/bilderberg-60-inside-worlds-most-secretive-conference

14 Key topics listed in the official press release include:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Cybersecurity
  • Chemical Weapons Threats
  • Current Economic Issue
  • European Strategy
  • Globalisation
  • Greece
  • Iran
  • Middle East
  • NATO
  • Russia
  • Terrorism
  • United Kingdom
  • USA
  • US Elections

15 Taken from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry,Ch4,  pp117–9, by Jon Ronson, published by Picador, 2011.

16 From an article entitled “Revealed: Guestlist for secretive Bilderberg includes Osborne, Balls, BBC Trust chief, spies, bankers and royalty” written by Matt Chorley, published in the Daily Mail on June 8, 2015. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3115748/Guestlist-secretive-Bilderberg-Conference.html#comments

17 Another, very much in the spirit of the late, great Bill Hicks, reads:

“I figured this out. They are having these secret meetings because they planning to bestow us with a wonderful surprise. They don’t want us to know what it is or the surprise shall [be] ruined.”

This one is Plainer again (refreshingly so):

“It makes the Mafia look honest.”

18 From an article entitled “Jeb Bush in Berlin: remember my dad’s role in cold war, not my brother’s in Iraq” written by Kate Connolly, published in the Guardian on June 9, 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jun/09/jeb-bush-berlin-germany-foreign-policy-iraq

19

Endorse Liberty founders have so far reported spending about $3.3 million promoting [Ron] Paul by setting up two YouTube channels, constantly buying ads from Google and Facebook and StumbleUpon and building up a presence on the Web.

From an article entitled “PayPal co-founders fund pro-Paul Super PAC” written by Alina Selyukh, published in Reuters on January 31, 2012. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/31/us-usa-campaign-spending-paul-idUSTRE80U1OF20120131

20 From an article entitled “Rand Paul Had Sitdowns With Mark Zuckerberg And Peter Thiel” written by Hunter Walker, published in Business Insider on July 14, 2014. http://www.businessinsider.com/rand-paul-had-sitdowns-with-mark-zuckerberg-and-peter-thiel-2014-7?IR=T

21

Full list of current Bilderberg steering committee members from official website:

Henri de Castries Chairman and CEO, AXA Group

DEU Achleitner, Paul Chairman Supervisory Board, Deutsche Bank AG
GBR Agius, Marcus Non-Executive Chairman, PA Consulting Group
USA Altman, Roger C. Executive Chairman, Evercore
FIN Apunen, Matti Director, Finnish Business and Policy Forum EVA
PRT Barroso, José M. Durão Former President of the European Commission
FRA Baverez, Nicolas Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
ITA Bernabè, Franco Chairman, FB Group SRL
NOR Brandtzæg, Svein Richard President and CEO, Norsk Hydro ASA
ESP Cebrián, Juan Luis Executive Chairman, Grupo PRISA
CAN Clark, W. Edmund Group President and CEO, TD Bank Group
DEU Enders, Thomas CEO, Airbus Group
DNK Federspiel, Ulrik Executive Vice President, Haldor Topsøe A/S
NLD Halberstadt, Victor Professor of Public Economics, Leiden University
USA Jacobs, Kenneth M. Chairman and CEO, Lazard
USA Johnson, James A. Chairman, Johnson Capital Partners
USA Karp, Alex CEO, Palantir Technologies
GBR Kerr, John Deputy Chairman, Scottish Power
USA Kleinfeld, Klaus Chairman and CEO, Alcoa
TUR Koç, Mustafa V. Chairman, Koç Holding A.S.
USA Kravis, Marie-Josée Senior Fellow and Vice Chair, Hudson Institute
CHE Kudelski, André Chairman and CEO, Kudelski Group
BEL Leysen, Thomas Chairman, KBC Group
USA Mathews, Jessica T. President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
ITA Monti, Mario Senator-for-life; President, Bocconi University
USA Mundie, Craig J. Senior Advisor to the CEO, Microsoft Corporation
USA Perle, Richard N. Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
CAN Reisman, Heather M. Chair and CEO, Indigo Books & Music Inc.
AUT Scholten, Rudolf CEO, Oesterreichische Kontrollbank AG
USA Thiel, Peter A. President, Thiel Capital
INT Trichet, Jean-Claude Honorary Governor, Banque de France; Former President, European Central Bank
GRC Tsoukalis, Loukas President, ELIAMEP
SWE Wallenberg, Jacob Chairman, Investor AB
USA Zoellick, Robert B. Chairman, Board of International Advisors, The Goldman Sachs Group

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play up! play up! and don’t play the game!

It is a fortnight since the story of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden first broke with revelations of a “previously undisclosed program called Prism, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats” announced to the world by Glenn Greenwald writing in the Guardian on Friday 7th:

The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian.

On that very same day I was heading down the M1 motorway to Watford with a friend to protest against the Bilderberg meeting taking place at the Grove hotel. A meeting that evidently has extremely close connections to those same “internet giants” who have been enabling the NSA as well as our own GCHQ to covertly snoop into every aspect of our lives. Indeed Google were already busy having their very own “private gathering” inside the same grounds of the very same hotel on days either side of the Bilderberg confab. In spite of being so closely connected to the inner circle of the Bilderberg clique, and thus to the very people who are engaged in this rampant abuse of our civil liberties, here’s what Google officially said to the Guardian:

In a statement, Google said: “Google cares deeply about the security of our users’ data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government ‘back door’ into our systems, but Google does not have a back door for the government to access private user data.”

Plausible deniability, in other words, and it gets better:

Several senior tech executives insisted that they had no knowledge of Prism or of any similar scheme. They said they would never have been involved in such a program. “If they are doing this, they are doing it without our knowledge,” one said.

An Apple spokesman said it had “never heard” of Prism.1

I imagine he’s probably never heard of those Foxconn factories in China with the suicide nets either.

Driving down in our van together we were missing the coverage of Snowden’s document release but then again we already knew all the most important details of the supposedly breaking story. That we are all now living under constant internet and telephone surveillance being old news to any who have cared to search within the margins or else entirely beyond the mainstream news. Since if you are familiar with the names of William Binney or Tom Drake, to name but two former NSA whistleblowers who have both featured in earlier posts, then Snowden’s document dump comes mainly as confirmation of prior knowledge. Details added, yes, but nothing substantially new or remotely surprising.

As we approached the M25 we had entered a twenty mile section of the M1 with CCTV cameras (unless we were both mistaken) fitted every hundred yards along the hard shoulder and funneling our way ahead to London. Having not driven along this newly refurbished stretch of the M1, I felt a growing unease at this additional and less anticipated evidence of where our society is so obviously heading, thoughts which were also combined with something more primal: a loathing of being so tightly boxed in. My friend said he felt similarly unnerved. The claustrophobia of high surveillance was creeping both of us out.

At Junction 8 we turned off and from there onwards followed the softly spoken instructions of our satnav. As patient as she was mellifluous, surely ‘Emily’, the satnav babe, was on our side, but hang on, what’s this…?

A secret ‘Big Brother’ operation is allowing officials to pinpoint the exact location of thousands of vehicles with satellite navigation systems.

The controversial scheme is built into the small print of a contract between the Department for Transport and the satnav company Trafficmaster.

Currently the ‘spy in the sky’ system is limited to some 50,000 drivers who have Trafficmaster’s Smartnav system.2

And that story was released back in 2007 so god knows what Emily gets up to these days… the flirty little snitch! Still, at least she knew the whereabouts of where we were heading, reliably delivering us to the entrance of the Bilderberg Fringe designated campsite where we were soon spotted by a warden who politely but promptly informed us that we were actually the wrong side of the hundred acres of scout parkland. In view of the latest child protection laws, the protesters, he informed us, were being located well away from the scouts and with access guarded by a couple of police vans on 24-hour patrol outside the gates just in case.

So we turned the van around and, without Emily to guide us now, aimed a little across country, down some forest tracks, and eventually coming to the proper site. It was dusk and we were soon parked up in a beautiful corner of the rolling Hertfordshire countryside, brewing up some teas and pulling out the camping chairs to idle the rest of the evening beside the white blossoms of the hawthorns and the brighter flush of ox-eye daisies. A lovely spot for camping, quiet and secluded, and also close enough to the main field to mingle with other campers who as darkness fell had put together a makeshift bonfire from pallets and entertained themselves with beers and music. It was odd to think that this accidental mix of people had all come along with the same singular intent. There to vent a little of our collective spleen directly towards the secretive banker-CEO-politico hobnobbing which was already well underway but happening five miles away inside the plush Grove hotel.

In many ways it was turning into a rather beautiful weekend. Beautiful weather, beautiful location and the following day, a beautiful gathering of common humanity hollering our peaceful but intransigent dissent across the lines of G4S security guards and towards the high security steel perimeter that surrounded the hotel half a mile away in the distance. Did the Bilderberg delegates hear our cries from our small but thronging paddock of free speech? I think they most probably did. Were they remotely listening to what any one of us had to say? Of course not – what do you think this is… a democracy or something?

In truth I’ve been struggling to decide what to write about the Bilderberg protests ever since I returned. The media, of course, knew exactly where to point its cameras. Alex Jones was bound to provide them with a story and offer a further distraction to the main event. Duly he obliged, goaded into action by the smug Andrew Neil and his supercilious sidekick David Aaronvitch (who ironically enough was once awarded the Orwell Prize – how Orwell must be turning in his grave). His latest rant going viral once again and thus overshadowing the more considered position of Tony Gosling who had sparred with Neil on the same subject only a few days earlier:

But then, Neil and Jones weren’t the only ones playing games over the Bilderberg weekend. For instance, the police liaison officers convivial mingling with the crowds was another little game with different rules. Likewise, the men in sharp suits who were milling around the gates of the Grove before drifting across to be matey with those of us enclosed within our little pen were part of yet another form of the same game. In response to all this or else for more provocative reasons, some of the protesters were playing parallel games of their own. Making entertaining announcements over their personal megaphones or more simply befriending those who helped to keep us under restraint.

And perhaps the one time the protesters really got the upper hand in these ongoing games was when two small children breached the security cordon and briefly ran amok. The G4S guards were clearly flustered and at a total loss to know what to do. Sure the meeting was taking place half a mile away across a canal with only one small bridge crossing and firmly sealed behind the newly installed and heavily patrolled perimeter fence high on the hill in the distance, but just what might have happened if these children had been permitted to run loose… might others have been inspired to boldly follow their lead?

Maybe if we sent all the kids out ahead, perhaps followed soon after by the pensioners and the disabled, then such a diversionary tactic might just be enough to keep the troops of security guards and mounted police sufficiently preoccupied for the rest of us to make a proper assault on the castle walls! I’m fairly sure I wasn’t alone in thinking such subversive thoughts… although these were just games of a purely imaginative kind. The single person who did in fact embark upon such daring act of civil disobedience having already been promptly captured; foiled within seconds by the lines of blue. She hadn’t stood an earthly. So why then had we all been submitted to airport-style security checks before being allowed entry into the paddock? Well, it was just another part of the games being played, as was the enormous police presence that accompanied some of the protesters, keeping an eye on their later pub rendezvous many miles away in a different village. Being followed hither and thither by security vans was all part of the festival, and of course we all enjoyed the romp no end.

Which basically sums up the lasting lesson of Bilderberg 2013 for me at least; that all of the many impositions and cruelties inflicted upon the downtrodden populations of this world by a small but dominant gang of well established oligarchs can actually be maintained only by virtue of such tacitly accepted games – games being so absolutely vital for ensuring that the world goes on working in the unjust way it does, with tyranny being so much more effectively instilled and ensured through disingenuous smiles and knowing winks than by any amount of armed security guards and steel fences. The fences and the guns being reserved for emergencies only and if the herd should ever get too out of control.

“One pro-transparency campaigner has had enough” wrote Charlie Skelton in his final Bilderblog for this year’s event, continuing with a quote:

“For too long, those in power made decisions behind closed doors, released information behind a veil of jargon and denied people the power to hold them to account.”

Who might that have been, you may wonder. Perhaps Michael Meacher, who was the only parliamentarian with the gumption to directly address the protesters gathered at the gates of the Grove. Well, no actually…

This particular critic of closed-doors government is a certain David Cameron, speaking shortly after taking office. “This coalition is driving a wrecking ball through that culture,” he said, “and it’s called transparency.”

And Cameron wasn’t alone in his humbug:

Cameron wasn’t the only one swinging the wrecking-ball of transparency inside this year’s Bilderberg. He was joined on the end of the chain by Jessica Mathews, who sits on the advisory council of Transparency International, and James Wolfensohn, who’s on the advisory council of Transparency International USA. Together, I’m sure, they were lobbying hard to open up this last bastion of murky politicking to the sunlight. If they could find the time between seminars.3

Click here to read more of Charlie Skelton’s summary of this year’s Bilderberg.

When I got home to Sheffield I had some explaining to do. Principally I needed to account for why it was I’d let myself get so sunburnt during the weekend. Now the strict answer was that due to the security checks and the long tailback that had resulted (many of the protesters, we understood, having been turned away at the entrance) I hadn’t been able to return from the paddock to pick up the sunscreen we’d rather foolishly left behind in our van. Not a terribly romantic answer and so I improvised. “A battle scar,” I told my nephews and niece when they asked me later, “received at the cost of fighting against the Bilderbergers.”

“Why are you fighting the Build-A-Bears?” my niece objected. “I love the Build-A-Bears” she added. “Not Build-A-Bears,” I explained, “but Bilderbergers…”

“What do they make?” she asked me. What do the make…? I hesitated. How could I explain to an eight year-old what the Bilderbergers make? “War,” I said bluntly after a pause. With both General Petraeus and Kissinger in attendance it seemed like a fair if simplified version of the truth.

Meanwhile Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower, has been involved in quite a caper of his own, leading the American government a merry dance in an almost nostalgic game of Cold War cat and mouse. Landing first in Hong Kong and then taking a flight on to Moscow, the news media is now altogether consumed with speculation about when and where he’ll most likely turn up next, whereas some others, perhaps most notably Naomi Wolf, are also questioning Snowden’s motivations. Is he really who he purports to be?, asks Wolf, with the unstated implication being that his adventures might in some way be part of a “limited hangout” operation; a convenient way to leak out minimal information primarily to the advantage of the spy agencies involved. As a further response, some are already asking who Naomi Wolf really is… here for example is Dave Lindorff offering a counter-offensive in last week’s Counterpunch.

In my opinion questioning the motivation of both parties is perfectly legitimate, since after all I cannot vouch for either Wolf or Snowden, having absolutely no personal association with either one. Wolf’s speculations may indeed be wild and self-promoting, as Lindorff asserts, yet the fuller verdict on Snowden surely remains unclear. For though his release of the Prism documents was undoubtedly in the public interest, and for that reason alone he ought to be protected from any subsequent prosecution, yet as I pointed out above, the evidence he presents adds surprisingly little to what we already knew or might easily have presumed.

What Snowden unquestionably has achieved, however, is to put the matter of public surveillance under the mainstream spotlight. Yet does this alone automatically affirm him as our new hero for freedom and democracy? For there might indeed be, as Wolf tentatively points out, a more hidden agenda going on behind the scenes, and whether or not Snowden is a man of integrity, he may still be an unwitting dupe. This leak, which serves to apply extra pressure to Obama, might, for instance, help with forcing the beleaguered President’s hand in other areas. It could be that by such means, Obama may now be further pressured into engaging in all-out war on Syria – one conflict that Obama has so far managed to steer clear of. Snowden’s leak becoming the straw that finally broke the camel’s back…

That said, charging Snowden under the Espionage Act strikes another fierce blow against freedom of speech, issuing a chill warning to other potential whistleblowers who may contemplate speaking out in the public interest, and thereby further trampling on the tattered remains of the American constitution. It is right therefore that those who stand for freedom ought to back Snowden’s actions and demand that he is pardoned of any crime, but it is also wise to be cautious of all those who cross from behind enemy lines. So let’s also remind ourselves that Snowden worked for the NSA and though we may like to believe that a leopard can change its spots, the associated proverb helpfully cautions us not to wish to be deceived…

The truth is the truth and yet the truth gets harder and harder to find. Take Bilderberg again, which commentators like Andrew Neil assure us is just a private club, and nothing to bother our silly little heads about. Ken Clarke, answering questions in the House of Commons (see below), playing a similar gambit. But then why the cover up for so long, we may legitimately ask, and why does the BBC even now continue to stick with the party line (of “nothing to see here”) rather than asking the tougher questions directly of the Bilderbergers themselves?

As a consequence, when we desire to uncover any meaningful facts about Bilderberg (starting with its actual existence) we are instead forced to turn to the alternative media, and the same goes for most other pressing issues including, to stick with the pertinent illustration, the rise of the surveillance state. The BBC reporting next to nothing when William Binney and Tom Drake were spilling the beans about the NSA, but some years later totally seduced by the story of Edward Snowden. The best we can say is that this is too little too late: closing the stable door after the horse has well and truly bolted.

And the emphasis is also shifted. Stories not to reveal more about Bilderberg or to challenge NSA and GCHQ surveillance, but instead about what Alex Jones believes about Bilderberg or intrigue surrounding the continuing flight of Edward Snowden. The news becoming the metanews and the important message being lost in all the hubbub. In such a fashion we are cajoled into accepting the unacceptable. These kinds of reporting of the news helping to get us more accustomed to the idea of clandestine political gatherings and of the secret services spying into every area of our personal lives. The media playing their own considerable part in the very same game… tricking us into masking our fears with our own false grins as we laugh along with the lies and feign delight in our own deception.

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Update:

An article published in last Wednesday’s Washington Post [June 26th] offers further reasons to be cautious when it comes to Ed Snowden’s motivations. Entitled “Four years ago, Ed Snowden thought leakers should be ‘shot’”, it begins as follows:

Since he publicly acknowledged being the source of bombshell leaks about the NSA two weeks ago, Ed Snowden has portrayed government secrecy as a threat to democracy, and his own leaks as acts of conscience. But chat logs uncovered by the tech news site Ars Technica suggest Snowden hasn’t always felt that way.

“Those people should be shot in the balls,” Snowden apparently said of leakers in a January 2009 chat.

Click here to read the full article by Timothy B. Lee.

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Additional:

Here is the best video compilation of the Bilderberg Fringe event I have found uploaded:

1 From an article entitled “NSA Prism program taps in to user data of Apple, Google and others” written by Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill, published by the Guardian on June 7, 2013. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/06/us-tech-giants-nsa-data

2 From an article entitled “Big Brother is keeping tabs on satnav motorists” published by the Daily Mail on September 25, 2007. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-483682/Big-Brother-keeping-tabs-satnav-motorists.html

3 From an article entitled “Bilderberg 2013: The sun sets on Watford” written by Charlie Skelton and published by the Guardian on June 11, 2013. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/11/bilderberg-davidcameron

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Charlie Skelton reports from behind the ring of steel at Watford

Firstly, a few pertinent words from Adam Smith:

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary.

Taken from Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations (1776) 1

*

At one point in the meeting, during a tense exchange about contingency plans for dog-walkers, [police Chief Inspector] Rhodes let slip that Operation Discuss (the codename for the Bilderberg security operation) had been up and running for 18 months. Residents and journalists shared an intake of breath. “Eighteen months?” The reason for all the secrecy? “Terrorism”.

After 59 years of Bilderberg guests scuttling about in the shadows, ducking lenses and dodging the news, that’s the rationale we’re given? The same rationale, presumably, is behind the Great Wall of Watford, a concrete-and-wire security fence encircling the hotel. As ugly as it is unnecessary, it looks like the kind of thing you throw yourself against in a stalag before being machine-gunned from a watchtower. Appropriately fascistic, you might say, if you regard fascism as “the merger of corporate and government power”, as Mussolini put it.

The same threat of “terrorism” was used to justify the no-pedestrian, no-stopping zones near the venue. The police laid out their logic: they had “no specific intelligence” regarding a terror threat. However, in recent incidents, such as Boston and Woolwich, there had been no intelligence prior to the attack. Therefore the lack of any threat of a terror attack fitted exactly the profile of a terror attack. The lack of a threat was a threat. Welcome to 1984.

So writes Charlie Skelton, who is again one of the only mainstream journalists reporting from this year’s Bilderberg meeting which officially opened yesterday. Skelton, who also has a career as comedy script writer, adding with typically understated irony:

The audience was an odd mix. Half were residents from around the venue worried about the possibility of tyre-damage to a strip of lawn; the other half were journalists from around the world worried about the geopolitical implications of a conference at which BAE, Stratfor and General Petraeus will be discussing “Africa’s challenges”.

Both halves were worried about the funding for the gigantic security operation. The police assured sceptical residents that the conference would be “cost-neutral” for Hertfordshire, thanks in part to a “donation” from the conference organisers. This “donation” will have come, in part at least, from the Bilderberg Association, a registered UK charity that takes “donations” from BP and Goldman Sachs.

So, in a sense, the Herts police are doing charity work for Goldman Sachs. Which must be a comfort for the executives of Goldman Sachs attending the conference: the vice-chairman, a director and the chairman of Goldman Sachs International. They’ve got their charity team out patrolling, keeping the lenses at bay.2

Click here to read his full article entitled “Bilderberg 2013: welcome to 1984” published by the Guardian on Wednesday 5th.

Here is Skelton again reporting a few days earlier on his same Bilderblog, and on this occasion delving deeper into Bilderberg’s wonderful and little known works of charity whilst also pointing out how the timing of this year’s get-together happens to coincide with a long overdue scandal about political lobbying:

If you’ve been wondering who picks up the tab for this gigantic conference and security operation, the answer arrived last week, on a pdf file sent round by Anonymous. It showed that the Bilderberg conference is paid for, in the UK, by an officially registered charity: the Bilderberg Association (charity number 272706).

According to its Charity Commission accounts, the association meets the “considerable costs” of the conference when it is held in the UK, which include hospitality costs and the travel costs of some delegates. Presumably the charity is also covering the massive G4S security contract. Fortunately, the charity receives regular five-figure sums from two kindly supporters of its benevolent aims: Goldman Sachs and BP. The most recent documentary proof of this is from 2008 (pdf), since when the charity has omitted its donors’ names (pdf) from its accounts.

The charity’s goal is “public education”.3

Public education! From an organisation that hides its face in shame behind armed guards and steel cordons. Skelton adds:

If you are concerned about transparency or lobbying, Watford is the place to be next weekend. Whether the delegates reach out to the press and public remains to be seen. Don’t forget, they’ve got their hands full carrying out the good works of Bilderberg. The conference is, after all, run as a charity.

A charity which specialises in helping those most in need of a little corporate lobbying:

It’s a remarkable spectacle – one of nature’s wonders – and the most exciting thing to happen to Watford since that roundabout on the A412 got traffic lights. The area round the hotel is in lockdown: locals are having to show their passports to get to their homes. It’s exciting too for the delegates. The CEO of Royal Dutch Shell will hop from his limo, delighted to be spending three solid days in policy talks with the head of HSBC, the president of Dow Chemical, his favourite European finance ministers and US intelligence chiefs. The conference is the highlight of every plutocrat’s year and has been since 1954. The only time Bilderberg skipped a year was 1976, after the group’s founding chairman, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, was caught taking bribes from Lockheed Martin.

Here is the definition of “bribe”: Something, such as money or a favor, offered or given to a person in a position of trust to influence that person’s views or conduct. So surely then, every form of lobbying is a kind of bribery.

Just imagine, for example, if my college discovered that I or any of my colleagues were accepting cash payments (or other ‘gifts’) from students – they would rightly sack us on the spot. Would it make any difference if I told them that the students were only “lobbying me” about their coursework, or would it be deemed more acceptable if I had “registered their interests”? Of course it wouldn’t! So in what way is lobbying not bribery?

That said, some kinds of bribery are more prosecutable than others. So was Prince Bernhard ever criminally charged after accepting a $1.1 million bribe from Lockheed? Of course not, after all he’s Prince Bernhard. Although apparently he was forced “to step down from several public positions and was forbidden to wear his military uniforms again.”4 Rough justice.

Back to Skelton’s comparative analysis of the current goings on at the Grove hotel to the on-going parliamentary scandal:

It may seem odd, as our own lobbying scandal unfolds, amid calls for a statutory register of lobbyists, that a bunch of our senior politicians will be holed up for three days in luxurious privacy with the chairmen and CEOs of hedge funds, tech corporations and vast multinational holding companies, with zero press oversight. “It runs contrary to [George] Osborne’s public commitment in 2010 to ‘the most radical transparency agenda the country has ever seen’,” says Michael Meacher MP. Meacher describes the conference as “an anti-democratic cabal of the leaders of western market capitalism meeting in private to maintain their own power and influence outside the reach of public scrutiny”.

But, to be fair, is “public scrutiny” really necessary when our politicians are tucked safely away with so many responsible members of JP Morgan’s international advisory board? There’s always the group chief executive of BP on hand to make sure they do not get unduly lobbied. And if he is not in the room, keeping an eye out, then at least one of the chairmen of Novartis, Zurich Insurance, Fiat or Goldman Sachs International will be around.

Click here to read Charlie Skelton’s full article.

Charlie Skelton is doing an excellent job again this year, and when, later today, I finally make it down to Watford myself, perhaps I’ll happen to run into him. If not then I’d certainly like to express my gratitude to him here before I leave.

I must also say that it is quite pleasing to see others in the media finally picking up the gauntlet and taking serious note of this most extraordinary annual general meeting for globalisation. There was even a surprisingly balanced report on Channel 4 news broadcast yesterday. You can watch it here:

http://www.channel4.com/news/the-bilderberg-group-a-meeting-of-minds-video

Finally, here is Charlie Skelton talking to Max Keiser on Tuesday’s Keiser Report:

*

This year’s official list (which is reliably unreliable) has been released and includes amongst many the following names of particular interest:

George Osborne – Chancellor of the Exchequer

Ed Balls – Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer

Tim Geithner – Former US Secretary of the Treasury

Christine Lagarde – Head of IMF

Peter Sutherland – Chairman of Goldman Sachs

Mario Monti – Former appointed Prime Minister of Italy

Ken Clarke – who is listed merely as “Member of Parliament”

Peter Mandelson – listed as Chairman of Global Council and also Lazard International

José Barroso – President, European Commission

Richard Perle – neo con, veteran warmonger and well known member of PNAC

Henry Kissinger – listed only as “Chairman of Kissinger Associates”

last, but certainly not least, I notice the recently disgraced Gen David Petraeus – why he, we might wonder?

And so to Watford… I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for Mark Carney who has attended previous meetings at St Moritz (2011) and Chantilly (2012) and is about to replace Mervyn King as the next Governor of the Bank of England.

Various livestream broadcasts of the event can also be found here.

1 From Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, Chapter X, Part II, p. 152.

2 From an article entitled “Bilderberg 2013: welcome to 1984” written by Charlie Skelton, published in the Guardian on June 5, 2013. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/05/bilderberg-2013-goldman-sachs-watford

3 From an article entitled “The week ahead: Bilderberg 2013 comes to… the Grove hotel, Watford” written by Charlie Skelton, published by the Guardian on June 2, 2013. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/02/week-ahead-bilderberg-2013-watford

4 At least according to wikipedia. Read more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_bribery_scandals#Netherlands

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