Reprinted from www.libertylobby.org, home of The SPOTLIGHT archive
Euro-Green party researcher Grattan Healy and I had a rare five-star dinner in the bar of the Chateau du Lac hotel, just outside Brussels. For once, our minds were not on the food. Rather, how to figure out whether or not the secretive Bilderberg club will tomorrow have sealed off this hotel for their notorious annual meeting.
Bilderberg takes its name from a hotel in Holland where the first secret transatlantic conference took place back in 1954. Original chairman and founder of the club, ex-SS Nazi Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands owned the place. Bilderberg's "steering group" boasts the wealthiest bankers and industrialists in the western world, no less.
Grattan's research has shown how elite clubs like Bilderberg and the Trilateral Commission are managing somehow to install more of their members on the European Commission at the heart of Europe. And more recently links have been exposed with the powerful European Round Table of industrialists.
The current Bilderberg chairman founded it. Grattan's been getting embarrassing questions asked by greens at the European Union's rubber stamp department, the Parliament. As for me, I was curious to see these Bilderbergers in the flesh for the first time. Being stone broke as usual, I arrived in Brussels from Bristol mostly by skipping trains. It had to be the right place after all that effort.
During a snoop round the hotel interior, Grattan spotted a sign pointing to a "Steering Group" meeting. A deliberate hoax? We had to find out in the morning.
Mike Peters, Marxist sociology lecturer from Leeds who has written one of the most comprehensive studies to date on the Bilderbergers, flew into Brussels late that evening Wednesday, May 31. Another leap of faith.
Arriving at the chateau the next morning we noticed rear entrances had been padlocked and chained. Around the front, the mock-Florentine lobby had a rude addition: a white plastic entrance tunnel and drive-in awning had sprung up overnight. Was this to protect chauffeur-driven guests from the rain on this cloudless day? Or from prying eyes? This was no bum steer. The SPOTLIGHT's got the place, all right.
The limos began arriving. The shiny black Mercedeses with their characteristic "B" clearly displayed in the front windshield. We could just see into the awning and film most of the participants as they emerged from the backs of the limos. Doormen attempted to hold make shift curtains up to conceal the more sensitive guests. We managed most ly to film them between the gaps.
We had a chat with a photographer and a reporter for The SPOTLIGHT, the populist newspaper and the only people in the world able to root out Bilderberg venues ahead of the event. What a sincere, concerned pair they seemed, and we had been told SPOTLIGHT was neo-Nazi.
Chilling to think that without the bloodhound work of writer Jim Tucker no one but the participants would have known this meeting was taking place. "But we send out a press release," the Bilderberg office bleats if you bother to complain. What they don't tell you is that you have to request it from the hotel (how is anyone supposed to know where to call?) and they only release it as everybody's leaving. Too late for the press.
Thursday, June 1, is a bank holiday in Belgium. Families were out in the sun, taking a stroll round the lovely Genval lake, almost oblivious to the capitalist heavyweights emerging from limos feet away inside the awning. The regulars were arriving: Conrad Black, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Kenneth Clarke, David Rockefeller and James Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank.
The new chairman, Viscount Etienne Davignon, came out to get what, we joked, looked like a bag of drugs from his car.
He owns most of the public utilities and one of the biggest banks in Belgium.
"Will you be holding a press conference, Davignon?" Grattan shouted. "I don't think so," Davignon replied.
"Why not?" Grattan asked.
"We don't have enough interesting things to say," Davignon replied.
Then, reporters and other on-lookers shouted questions and answers at each other.
"And who's that?" one asked. "It's Jean-Claude Trichet," came the reply. "Who's he?" "The next boss of the Euro pean Central Bank." He obviously won't have anything interesting to say either.
"What about this one?" "That's Daniel Vasella, CEO of Novartis with William McDonough, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York." "That one's the boss of The Washington Post [publisher Donald Graham] and hey, there goes George Soros! Look, it's one of the new European Commissioners, Pascal Lamy."
This looked like an elite group to me.
Another brand-new Mercedes arrived.
An aloof looking guest turned away from the cameras. We looked at each other and shook our heads, another one we didn't recognize.
Grattan called out to him: "Are you a big shot sir?" The passing Belgian public were spellbound by the line of polished black Mercedeses. "What's going on?" they kept asking, in French, as we prepared for the next arrival. "It's Bilder berg." They nodded in reply, as if they knew what we meant, then shuffled off looking puzzled.
Untouchable elite types were swinging out of limos next to a busy public road and footpath -- clearly an uptight security man's nightmare.
Men with bulging sweaters or badly-fitting jackets wearing dark glasses walked back and forth. Ah, that would be the plainclothes Belgian secret service with their guns.
I asked one if he knew what's going on at the hotel. "I don't know," he said, smiling and baring rat-like teeth. He was not a good actor. Glad I couldn't see his eyes.
A big CIA officer turned up and ordered the Belgians around. They knew their place.
This year's Bilderberg meeting had to be hastily rearranged after the Austrian anti-EU Freedom Party (do I hear neo-Nazi mud being slung?) was elected -- hence we and the public were so close by. We might never have gotten this opportunity again. If they had met as planned in Austria there would probably have been official criticism and heaps of publicity. For a cabal all publicity is bad publicity.
Bilderberg does everything it can to conceal where it's meeting and doesn't bother with a press conference any more.
Okay, out the window go journalistic freedoms which are the lynch pin of any democracy. Inside, media barons and compliant writers from The Economist, sworn to secrecy, smooch year after year.
They created a vacuum. We decided to get on the telephone. On Saturday morning the Belgian daily De Morgen delivered the goods with a lead front page story by the ex-editor all about the no-longer quite so secret Bilderberg conference.
Critical and amusing coverage on national Belgian TV news and in Sunday papers followed into the week. When the Belgian papers phoned the mayor of the local Genval principality, he said they must be joking. If Queen Beatrix and Henry Kissinger were there he'd have known about it. Bilderberg, it seems, is above politics.
Politicians, newspaper editors, Euro pean commissioners and civil servants who agree to enter Bilderberg swear complete secrecy. Not just about the content of the meeting but about the very existence of Bilderberg. They leave their accountability at the door. Have the bankers grown so arrogant that they see democratic institutions and public opinion simply as competition to be taken out?
Just as the Bilderbergers were leaving on Saturday, two secret servicemen asked The SPOTLIGHT photographer to show a Belgian press pass, then threatened to beat him up. They chased him into a nearby tavern where he was rescued by waiters only to be chased again at the local station. He made a narrow escape by running across the tracks to jump on a train going the wrong way. Surreal.
Was someone about to leave the hotel and they didn't want him known? Clinton was in Aachen, Germany, that day, just down the road. Bilderberg has been known to accidentally leave heads of government off the official attendance list before.
There was one question we wanted to ask. Bilderberg stretches our credulity, particularly when their habitually anonymous supporters use angry disinformation, mud-slinging and guilt by association in a shabby attempt to discredit critics, as on the Mayday email list earlier this year.
According to the hotel, this year's meeting was a croquet tournament "with some well-known spectators." Another cover story was that the French football team was staying there. Even the security name tags said Brussels 2000, just like the football.
These power brokers lie too easily. The more facts that emerge about Bilderberg's key role in lobbying for a corporate European superstate and the more lies they disseminate to try to cover themselves the more healthy suspicion they arouse.
Why, for example, might Tony Blair have said in answer to a parliamentary question by Christopher Gill, MP, in March 1998 that no members of his cabinet had attended Bilderberg meetings, when he himself clearly was on the official Athens conference list in 1993 before becoming Labor leader? His attendance was even commented on by William Rees-Mogg in the Times.
The Danish parliament is considering banning all politicians from attending.
So who's in charge? The bankers or the politicians? What about the proverb that says "the borrower is servant to the lender?" Can Bilderberg politicians like Clarke be trusted?
And are the governments of the world now just PR and tax managers for the banks? There simply has to be a thorough international examination of this private little bankers' club that has toes in so many political doors. And we must catch up on the right's ability to cut through complex-sounding economics gibberish. They have taken the lead on Bilderberg because they understand the power of the bankers better than we do.
Economic priorities detrimental to ordinary people in the West, not to mention the developing world, are pushed forward at Bilderberg by the ruling class, those who have more influence than anyone else over the future, in total secret.
It's time to call this elite cabal to account.