Bilderberg Conference: Is it a powerful global cabal?

A dull office park near Virginia’s Dulles International Airport took on the sheen of a Hollywood thriller this week when an invitation-only cadre of global leaders gathered for a secretive meeting known as the Bilderberg conference.

Henry Kissinger and Bill Gates were chauffeured in. Fairfax County police established a security perimeter around the Westfields Marriott and prohibited a Washington Post photographer from snapping pictures from the public street.

Outside the barriers, dozens of protesters and conspiracy theorists – convinced that Bilderberg is a global cabal that runs the world – waved signs and shouted into a bullhorn.

“Honk if you hate the new world order!” they blared, hooting at drivers passing by. Fairfax County police have made three arrests for a variety of misdemeanor offenses such as obstruction of justice and disorderly conduct, a police spokesman said.

“This is the true power structure, the shadow government,” said Shawn Flinchbaugh, 29. The machinist from York County, Pa., stood outside the conference center clutching a handmade sign lettered “Bilderberg Scum.” “They say they don’t exist, but they do.”

According to its website, the Bilderberg meeting was organized by leaders from Western Europe and North America in the early days of the Cold War, and is named for the Dutch hotel where the first enclave was held in 1954. The current chairman of its steering committee is a French count. Others include the neoconservative scholar Richard Perle, the billionaire Peter Thiel, and financiers such as Roger Altman and Kenneth Jacobs, chairman and chief executive of Lazard.

About 120 people participate in “nearly three days of informal and off-the-record discussion about topics of current concern” in economics and foreign affairs, with the crisis in Syria, the euro zone and the U.S. presidential election likely taking center stage this time.

Attendees are encouraged not to discuss the proceedings, which fuels the secrecy concerns. Many adopt a Fight Club approach to answering questions afterward. In other words, the first rule is, you do not talk about Bilderberg.

Over the years, conspiracy buffs have embraced such notions that the group is behind the creation of the euro and meets to select the winners and losers in the U.S. presidential election — or at least endorse the candidate’s vice presidential pick. A speech by then Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., during Bilderberg in 2004 helped cement his vice presidential bid.

Vin Weber, a Washington lobbyist and former Minnesota congressman who has been a presenter at Bilderberg twice, laughs at such talk. He recalled a vigorous disagreement over presidential politics at one Bilderberg meeting, with Obama supporter James Johnson advocating for his guy and former Bill Clinton adviser Vernon Jordan speaking up for Hillary Clinton.

“Everybody talks about this great conspiracy, but it’s really not. It’s fun to be able to talk about it,” said Weber, who is a Romney adviser.

So as the motorcades come and go, are they talking of Marco Rubio?

“Yesterday I saw three billionaires. These are the kingmakers. Whoever we see here is likely to be the vice presidential candidate,” said Mike Peachman, 24, a linguist from New York. He was keeping an eye out for Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, a scheduled presenter sometimes mentioned as a Romney vice presidential pick. (Also on the invitation list was Donald Graham, chairman of the board and chief executive of The Washington Post Co.)

Every once in a while a van with tinted windows would drive through the gate, and the crowd of protesters would chant “Scum, scum, scum!” as it sailed by. But then the sky darkened and severe thunderstorms came sweeping through, ruining everything. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect if the Lords of Bilderberg had arranged it themselves.

More in Local News

Former Monroe cop loses appeal on sex crimes conviction

Once a highly respected officer, he was found guilty of secretly videotaping his kids’ babysitter.

Derrick “Wiz” Crawford, 22, is a suspect in the homicide of his roommate. (Edmonds Police Department)
Roommate suspected in Edmonds killing found hiding in closet

Police had been searching for him for 10 days before locating him at a house in Everett.

New leaders coming to county, state political parties

Hillary Moralez of Bothell takes over as chair for the Snohomish County Democratic Party.

Young woman missing from Mukilteo found safe

She called her parents and told them she was at a museum in Seattle.

Camano Island man gets 18 years for role in drug ring

He was convicted of helping lead a drug distribution network in four Washington counties.

Mom and brother turn in suspect in Stanwood robberies

The man is suspected of robbing the same gas station twice, and apologizing to the clerk afterward.

Lake Stevens man missing since beginning of January

Jason Michael Knox White hasn’t used his credit card or withdrawn money from his bank since then.

Navy to put filter in Coupeville’s contaminated water system

Chemicals from firefighting foam was found in the town’s drinking water.

Nichols Brothers Boat Builders apprentice Janette Alhanati (left) and journeyman Kurt Warwick construct wall panels for an upcoming boat project with Linblad Expedition Holdings. A federal grant from the Northwest Workforce Council will allow Nichols Brothers to add more apprentices to its workforce starting in January 2018.
Whidbey Island boatbuilder gets hiring boost

The grant from the Northwest Workforce Council will help expand the company’s apprenticeship program.

Most Read