CHANTILLY, Virginia – Some say it's just an event for the rich and powerful to let their hair down, hear from top policy wonks and schmooze with each other.
Others claim it's the place where big decisions are made in secret – decisions with world-shaking consequences.
Whatever it truly is, the meeting is taking place this week here in the quiet suburbs near Dulles International Airport at the Westfields Marriott Convention Center – the same place it was held four years ago when rumors circulated it was determined there that Barack Obama would be the Democratic presidential nominee, not Hillary Clinton. Two days after the event, Hillary bowed out of the race.
The group meets annually – normally in France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Scotland or Norway, almost always in Europe. But from tomorrow through June 4, the Bilderberg Group will be meeting about 20 miles from Washington, D.C.
George H.W. Bush attended in 1985. He became president in 1988. Bill Clinton attended in 1991. He became president a year later. Tony Blair attended in 1993. He became prime minister of England in 1997. Romano Prodi attended in 1999. Later that year he became president of the European Union Commission. In 2004, Sen. John Edwards spoke to the group. He was later anointed the Democratic vice presidential nominee by presidential candidate John Kerry.
But it's what makes Bilderberg watching a spectator sport for many.
What is it? It's a private, invitation-only club of about 150 individuals from the worlds of politics, business, finance, energy, media and nobility. But mum's the word on what goes on in the meetings. No resolutions are voted upon. No minutes are taken. No statements issued.
Alberta, Canada Premier Alison Redford has announced he's attending this week's event. Most others are more circumspect. What does she hope to achieve? She says Alberta is competing against jurisdictions around the world and she wants everyone to know that the province is open for business. Redford says she will meet with top policy leaders about the economy and the ecological challenges of developing natural resources in a responsible way.
The Bilderberg conference is held under tight secrecy. All the rooms are booked at the Westfield Marriott. All public breakfasts, lunches and dinners are canceled through the event.
But some will be trying to crash this party anyway.
OccupyBilderberg.org explains, "Occupy the REAL 1% (closer to 0.01%) -> In the year 2012, Truth Exposed Radio, WeAreChange San Antonio, and FunkMasterFive are uniting activist groups from around the world to finally expose the Bilderberg Group in Chantilly, Virginia, May 31 until June 3."
The Occupy Bilderberg 2012 Facebook page shows that nearly 500 people have agreed to attend the protest against the Bildgerberg group, while almost 350 have responded that they are considering it. Almost 17,000 people have received invites overall.
Radio host Alex Jones was thrown out of the 2008 Bilderberg conference and called upon the OWS protests to fill the streets of Chantilly in opposition to the Bilderberg presence. Groups are reportedly organizing car pools to be part of the protests, including car pools from the NATO Summit protest in Chicago to Chantilly, Virginia.
Bilderberg watcher Daniel Estulin, author of "The True Story of the Bilderberg Group," will not be in attendance this year because he is not permitted to travel into the U.S. But he is sending a representative in his stead. He believes the meetings are among the most important events to take place in the world every year.
"Bilderberg is not some group of demonic world leaders sitting around a table staring into a crystal ball," Estulin told WND. "In the U.S., a lot of people mistakenly believe there are secret societies, a very small group controlling the dynamics of the entire world, instead of understanding Bilderberg as a processes-, ideas- and themes-shaping organization. "Bilderberg is not a bogeyman. But it is a powerful organization. It's a medium for bringing together financial institutions – the largest, predatory institutions in the world – which acts in ways that are now the worst enemy of society."
How is it an enemy? Estulin believes the destruction of the economy, and particularly the assault on capitalist economics, is something that has been done on purpose, a meltdown orchestrated from behind the scenes to keep the masses dependent on the elite.
"To these powerful people, national resources are theirs, not everyone's," Estulin told WND. "All these people want an empire. They don't want the people of the world to develop, to prosper, to grow the population. They want us to work for them, where our children and our children's children work for an elite group, the oligarchy. If people participate in the ideas shaping the world, if a nation is allowed to grow its own food, develop its own natural resources, be truly self-governing, it would end the Bilderbergers' oligarchy."
He cites David Rockefeller's own admission. Rockefeller, a Bilderberg member, wrote: "Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as 'internationalists' and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure – one world, if you will. If that's the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it."
In 2009, Bilderberg Chairman Etienne Davignon boasted that the Euro single currency was actually a recommendation of the Bilderberg group.
"A meeting in June in Europe of the Bilderberg Group – an informal club of leading politicians, businessmen and thinkers chaired by Mr. Davignon – could also 'improve understanding' on future action, in the same way it helped create the Euro in the 1990s, he said," reported the EU Observer in March 2009.
No one is quite sure what will happen inside those closed doors this week, but Washington Post columnist Al Kamen seemed to suggest that Marco Rubio was the preferred vice presidential choice on the Republican ticket with Mitt Romney. Asked about it later, Kamen claimed his comment was misinterpreted.
The Washington Post Co. and its chairman Don Graham, a frequent attendee, have donated $100,000 over the past few years, according to tax filings. David Rockefeller is another major supporter, as is Henry Kissinger.
That, says Jones, is just a sampling of what else he expects to be discussed. Other items, he speculates, involve the upcoming presidential race.
As for Alex Jones, he says this meeting will be "one of the most important globalist meetings ever."
"Policy is being set there and this is one of the most elite meetings out there."