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The Bilderberg "Blackout"

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.slate.com/id/2193220 The Bilderberg Blackout The press corps noncoverage of that weekend conference in Chantilly, Va. By Jack Shafer Posted
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 10, 2008

      The Bilderberg "Blackout"
      The press corps' noncoverage of that weekend
      conference in Chantilly, Va.
      By Jack Shafer
      Posted Monday, June 9, 2008, at 8:32 PM ET

      About this time each year, the Bilderberg group
      convenes a weekend conference in a hotel or resort
      somewhere in North America or Europe in which 120 or
      so billionaires, bankers, politicians, industrialists,
      scholars, government officials, influentials from
      labor and education, and journalists assemble to
      discuss world affairs in private.

      This year, the 56th Bilderberg meeting took place over
      the weekend at the Westfields Marriott in Chantilly,
      Va., seven miles from Washington Dulles International
      Airport. As in previous years, Bilderberg critics are
      berating the mainstream press for observing a
      "blackout" of a group they believe directs a secret,
      shadow government.

      The critics claim that Bilderberg grooms future
      American presidents and future British prime
      ministers, pointing to Bill Clinton's attendance in
      1991 and Tony Blair's in 1993. Time magazine reported
      in 2004 that John Edwards impressed attendees at the
      Bilderberg session in Italy, after which John Kerry
      asked him to join his presidential ticket.

      According to the 1980 book Trilateralism: The
      Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World
      Management, President Dwight D. Eisenhower was
      enthusiastic about sending staffers to Bilderberg,
      President John F. Kennedy drew heavily from Bilderberg
      alumni—Dean Rusk, George W. Ball, George McGhee,
      Walter Rostow, Arthur Dean, and Paul Nitze—to staff
      his administration, and many Carter administration
      officials had attended the retreat.

      According to a list published by one critic, the
      attendees of Bilderberg 2008 include Henry Kissinger,
      Ben S. Bernanke, David Rockefeller, Vin Weber, Henry
      Kravis, Robert B. Zoellick, Donald Graham, Vernon
      Jordan, Charlie Rose, and their equals from Europe.
      Protestors staked out the elite at the hotel's
      entrance and recorded "surveillance" videos inside and
      outside the minimum-security facility before the event

      About this much the Bilderberg critics are right: The
      mainstream media ignored Bilderberg 2008. According to
      Nexis, Wonkette and Raw Story noted the event and the
      critics' objections on the Web. A simple Web search
      produces Bilderberg detractors Alex Jones and Jim
      Tucker sounding their alarms.

      And about this, too, the Bilderberg critics are right:
      The meeting of 120 prominent world figures probably
      constitutes some kind of news. Yet to be fair to the
      mainstream press, it's tough to report from a private
      gathering locked down tight by professional security.

      Bilderberg organizers expect participants to keep the
      weekend's discussions off-the-record, stating in a
      press release this year that "the privacy of the
      meetings has no purpose other than to allow
      participants to speak their minds openly and freely."
      Bilderberg isn't the only international group that
      asks participants to zip their lips. The United
      Kingdom's Chatham House enshrined such a rule back in
      1927, and similar requirements apply at some Council
      on Foreign Relations and Aspen Strategy Group
      meetings, just to name a few. Private groups meet in
      almost every town in the world for confidential chats.
      It's the way of the world. Bilderberger gab does
      occasionally leak, as with John Edwards' 2004 talk,
      but the poshes and powerful generally zip their lips.

      What do you suppose would result if, say, the
      Washington Post had assigned a reporter to Chantilly's
      luminary jamboree? The Associated Press sent a
      reporter to cover the 1978 Bilderberger session in
      Princeton, N.J., but all he filed was a scene piece
      describing "men in gray suits and sunglasses" chasing
      him away from the "off limits" grounds of the Henry
      Chauncey Conference Center. From that dispatch (by
      Steve Hindy):

      Kissinger casually strolled around a small manmade
      pond Saturday, coming within a few feet of the road
      leading into the complex.

      He circled the pond twice, first with a
      gray-haired pipe-smoking man and then with a younger
      man. Kissinger appeared grave and attentive while the
      men talked of things like "range limitations."

      Kissinger looked annoyed and declined comment when
      approached by a reporter.

      One of two Secret Service agents trailing the
      former secretary nodded sympathetically saying,
      "You've got to give it your best shot."

      And yet the "mainstream press" can hardly be accused
      of blacking out Bilderberg. The New York Times has
      mentioned Bilderberg a couple dozen times since 1981,
      according to Nexis, including in a 2004 piece titled
      "A Secret Conference Thought To Rule the Word." Other
      pieces in the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and
      the Boston Globe refer to the group. Just last month,
      Anne-Marie Slaughter mentioned the Bilderbergers in
      her Post review of a new book, Superclass: The Global
      Power Elite and the World They Are Making.

      Of course, Bilderberg critics don't want to read
      mentions in the press. They want to see confirmation
      of their theories that the group operates in a
      sinister, behind-the-scenes fashion to exploit the
      powerless and throttle liberty.

      How, exactly, are reporters supposed to do that when
      the critics rarely provide falsifiable evidence of
      Bilderberg malevolence? Would a shadow government,
      should it exist, really convene annually at a hotel to
      hash out the world's fate? Would it really issue a
      press release about its latest meeting? Would it
      routinely assume the security risks of inviting new
      blood in? (Couldn't the notorious Bilderberger Conrad
      Black negotiate his way out of prison by exposing the
      group? Or is Bilderberg so powerful that it controls
      the federal prison system, too?) It largely limits its
      attendees to North Americans and Europeans. Are the
      Japanese, Indians, Chinese, Brazilians, Australians,
      South Koreans, and Singaporean so timid that they
      stand aside and let the Bilderbergers have their way
      with the world without making a peep?

      That's not to say the critics' inquiries never produce
      anything of value. I enjoy reading the documentary
      material they dig up and can only encourage them to
      dig deeper. Just last month, Barack Obama tapped a
      prominent Bilderberger, James A. Johnson, to vet
      possible vice presidential candidates. Johnson
      provided similar veep vetting for the Democratic Party
      in 2004—which, as noted above, resulted in the
      selection of a Bilderberg attendee. The AP also
      reports that Johnson helped Walter Mondale pick a veep
      nominee in 1984.

      Who is Jim Johnson? He's the former head of Fannie
      Mae, a power on Wall Street, and a regular Bilderberg
      attendee. As recently as 2006, Johnson has been the
      treasurer of the nonprofit American Friends of
      Bilderberg Inc., according to the group's Form 990 on
      file at Guidestar.org. According to the fractured
      jargon of the filing, American Friends of Bilderberg
      is in the business of "Organizing & sponsoring
      conferences which study & discuss significant problems
      of the Western Alliance. Collaborating on the
      Bilderberg meetings held in Europe & North America."
      The group spent $112,533 in 2006.

      Still, the fact that an active Democratic supporter
      has performed return duty as a veep vetter stops
      several stations short of arriving at a shadow
      government. It does, however, indicate that Johnson's
      political influence may be underscrutinized by the
      press and that his career is deserving of extra study
      and attention. A May 24 Wall Street Journal story,
      "Power Broker Helps Obama Search for Running Mate,"
      does just that. Although it makes no mention of
      Johnson's Bilderberg connection, it drops a gentle dig
      that associates Johnson's Fannie Mae service with the
      home-loan crisis.

      Without a doubt, Bilderberg ends up stimulating
      speculations that it's a nefarious organization. In an
      earlier generation, some theorists regarded the
      Council on Foreign Relations as a similar shadow
      government for its furtive ways. But as the CFR opened
      up in recent decades, holding many sessions on the
      record, it has become as threatening as the World
      Economic Forum at Davos.

      Maybe there's a lesson in there for the Bilderbergers.
      Letting the press in for a closer look at what goes on
      would go a long way to reduce the shouting while
      preserving the group's right to think out loud. Or
      maybe all the heavy security and skulking about is a
      deliberate marketing ploy by Bilderberg to
      differentiate its yacht cruise from the ocean voyage
      that is Davos.


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