Does Privacy Exist? Yes, But Only For Our Leaders At Bilderberg 2014

Bilderberg 2014 Copenhagen 3

 

If 100 of the world’s top celebrities – from Angelina Jolie to Will Smith – suddenly dropped what they were doing and hunkered down together in a luxury hotel to debate the future of the entertainment industry in complete seclusion from the world, and then emerged three days later as though nothing happened, people would be rightly curious to know what they were up to.

Actually, curious is an understatement. There would be wall-to-wall media coverage, the TMZ drone would hover above the scene capturing aerial footage, pundits would offer endless speculation and real-time ‘analysis’ of what they thought might be taking place inside – in short, the world’s press would make a presidential election look like local newspaper reports about a lost kitten.

Isn’t it odd then, that when 100 of the most wealthy and influential people from outside of Hollywood – powerful establishment politicians, new rising stars, corporate CEOs, high-tech moguls and royalty – meet in secret every year to do the very same thing, nobody gives it a second thought?

The Bilderberg 2014 conference is now under way in Copenhagen, where a star-studded cast of characters from civilian, business and military-intelligence backgrounds are gathering to debate this year’s agenda of topics including sustainable economic recovery, the future of democracy, the Middle East, the Ukraine crisis and whether or not the basic concept of privacy still exists.

And no, you didn’t miss the hype. There has been scarcely any coverage of this year’s confab in the British or American press. Outfits such as the New York Times and the Daily Telegraph do not see fit to mention the meeting to their readers (in contrast to their coverage of the annual World Economic Forum meeting at Davos, Switzerland), and the BBC’s only acknowledgement of Bilderberg this year has been a Daily Politics segment which discussed conspiracy theories in general, and laughingly recalled the occasion last year when the show mocked and denigrated American radio host Alex Jones, one of the few activists to cover the 2013 Bilderberg meeting in Watford, England.

If Bilderberg was just another place for the wealthy and well-connected to hang out, there would be no issue – the world is awash with exclusive places and events for the elite to hobnob with each other. The same cast of characters also meet up at Davos for the World Economic Forum (the red carpet event of the year for people of lesser beauty and charisma), but if twelve months is simply too long to wait between encounters then nobody should begrudge them another opportunity to awkwardly flirt with one another while putting the world to rights.

The problem is not that successful and powerful people are meeting in secret in Copenhagen. The problem is the particularly volatile, toxic blend of people that assemble. Why are serving heads of government and state on the invite list to what is in part a giant, closed-door lobbying event? And how do attendees from the military and intelligence communities such as the secretary general of NATO, the head of MI6 and the former head of the NSA have common cause with corporate leaders including the Chairmen or CEOs of Shell, Barclays, BP, HSBC, Nokia, LinkedIn and Google?

And one more question – when the press are neither invited to the meeting nor briefed on its outcomes, why do the editors of media outlets including The Economist, The Financial Times, Le Monde and Italy’s RAI-TV sanction Bilderberg with their attendance?

In short, the answer is this: Bilderberg is the closest that western democratic societies come these days to openly, flat-out declaring that well-connected, wealthy people have an inherent right to rule and influence national and international policy, and to have their opinions taken more seriously than regular folk. From supposedly meritocratic “if I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere” New York through the Scandinavian poster-children of equality and back to post-Citizens United Washington DC it holds true; but most of the time we try to convince ourselves that it is otherwise, that our voices still count and that we are all equal before the law. For those who pay attention, the yearly Bilderberg conference serves to disenthrall us, briefly lifting the curtain on the truth.

That truth is the fact that money talks, and exorbitant wealth carries the loudest megaphone of all. It’s hardly a revelation, but the only time when the rest of us have it shoved in our faces quite so explicitly is at the yearly Bilderberg meeting – ironically the one time when almost none of us, led by the press, pay any attention.

Venue for the 2014 Bilderberg conference
Marriott Copenhagen – venue for the 2014 Bilderberg conference

 

On the agenda for Bilderberg 2014 is the subject of privacy – very topical given the ongoing fallout and scandal resulting from the Edward Snowden surveillance revelations and consequent exposure of the real extent of government surveillance in and by the United States, United Kingdom and other Five Eyes group countries.

Meeting with John Sawers, General Petraeus and others who are intimately involved in the conducting of government surveillance activities will be many high-profile people of vast wealth and influence. Many of these people are likely to hold quite forceful opinions on the issue of privacy, but they are more likely to be interested in protecting their own privacy from the journalists who would make their activities and indiscretions known to the public than altruistically pressuring governments to cease collecting everyone’s private data in their indiscriminate dragnet.

Given the rare opportunity to hold face-to-face meetings with the people who run the surveillance programmes and formulate the policies which underpin them, which aspects of the privacy question – and whose personal  interests, those of the elite or those of society as a whole – are the privileged attendees most likely to discuss?

Charlie Skelton at the Guardian, one of few mainstream journalists to cover Bilderberg every year, also picks up on the irony of an organisation as secretive as Bilderberg holding a discussion about the existence of privacy:

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 … There’s something distinctly chilling about the existence of privacy being debated, in extreme privacy, by people such as the executive chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, and the board member of Facebook Peter Thiel: exactly the people who know how radically transparent the general public has become.

Precisely. The average person might care about privacy issues because they don’t like being treated as automatic suspects in the intelligence services’ surveillance dragnet, or because they don’t want risk-averse insurance companies from searching out deeply private facts from our lives in order to increase their premiums. The privacy concerns of an oil company CEO or the queen of Spain (attendees all) are likely to be of a different order altogether, more focused on keeping potentially explosive or embarrassing information out of the public domain, and creating a legal framework that punishes those who reveal the truth while empowering those who seek to operate in the dark.

And you can bet that the Bilderberg attendees do want to affect change – they do not assemble for purely social reasons, but to leverage one another’s influence for their own ends – sometimes quite noble ends, but equally possibly very selfish ones. This leads to another sharp observation from Skelton:

The Bilderberg Group says the conference has no desired outcome. But for private equity giants, and the heads of banks, arms manufacturers and oil companies, there’s always a desired outcome. Try telling the shareholders of Shell that there’s “no desired outcome” of their chairman and chief executive spending three days in conference with politicians and policy makers.

If people want to shoot the breeze or have long, meandering yet inconclusive conversations about the state of the world, they go to Starbucks or sneak off to the pub with their friends. Influential and high net worth individuals – whose time is supposedly so valuable – don’t check out for three days and traverse continents unless there’s something significant in it for them, or the causes that they promote.

As Bilderberg 2013 drew to a close in the Hertfordshire countryside, Semi-Partisan Sam had this to say (among other things) about the motivations and biases of the people who get together once a year to decide what’s best for the rest of us:

The reason so many of the actions taken by [Bilderberg members] over the years have been so harmful to ‘normal people’ is because the membership is comprised entirely of the successful. None of the protesters were allowed to remonstrate with the Great Ones within. No refugees from the middle east Arab Spring. No malnourished people from Africa. No failed small business owners from the town of Watford itself, which has struggled in the recession.

If every year you and your chums reassemble at the next Bilderberg meeting and find yourselves even more spectacularly successful and wealthy than the last time you met, “more of the same” could start to seem like a pretty good prescription.

A year later, and this ‘confirmation bias’ explanation is starting to look rather too charitable toward the Bilderbergers. Since the Watford meeting we have learned of more government overreach in the realm of surveillance, more incursions on privacy, more intimidation of the media and the further undermining of national democracy from overturned limits on corporate political spending in the United States to the growing concentration of powers at super-national level in the European Union.

It really would be helpful if the organisers would consent to publishing minutes from their meetings, because at the moment it looks suspiciously as though the 2013 attendees listened to public opinion, then got together and resolved to do the polar opposite.

Perhaps the ultimate irony of Bilderberg 2014 is this: not one week ago, the voters of Europe delivered a stinging rebuke to the political establishment for their growing disconnect with the people and their tendency to talk amongst themselves and prescribe universal solutions from on high without a democratic mandate for their actions. And now today, at a Copenhagen hotel in the heart of Europe, they’re at it once again as though the European elections never happened.

Unfortunately for us, our political elites are seemingly the only ones still able to assert a right to privacy, conducting their business with Bilderberg behind closed doors. But it’s just as much our fault – by not paying any attention, we let them get away with it.

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Analysing The Bilderberg Agenda

Now that the elitist gala known as the 2013 Bilderberg Group Meeting is wrapping up in Watford, England, I thought it would be worth spending some time analysing the agenda that our powerful masters were discussing – at least the topics that they reveal on their official website.

Of course, we will never know the outcome of these discussions, or even if the agenda items published by the Bilderberg Group are accurate, because they hold no press conferences and issue no minutes following the meeting. Not even the democratically elected representatives who attend feel the need to explain to their voters what they were doing inside the luxurious Grove Hotel in the Hertfordshire countryside.

And it should be further obvious that any of the really nefarious decision-making would have taken place in smaller “break-out” sessions and quiet huddles, away from the larger plenary sessions, and will continue to be made now that the Great and the Good have had a chance to network with each other over canapes.

But even assuming the published agenda is fairly representative of what our Betters talked about, safe behind their steel curtain, it is difficult to understand how the group of people huddled inside – published here on the Bilderberg Group website – could have discussed these issues in any other manner than considering how to manipulate each area to their own advantage.

Why? Let’s break it down and take a closer look at the agenda.

1. Can the US and Europe grow faster and create jobs?

See any small business owners on the list of attendees? See any people who have known and experienced unemployment personally? Of course not. We see the likes of Eric Schmidt, Jeff Bezos, Ian Davis and Simon Henry from the worlds of mega-big business, and then a host of top banking CEOs who were responsible for causing the global financial meltdown in the first place. Their profits are returning to record highs during jobless recoveries or double-dip recessions in most western countries. Where are the representatives of the struggling high-street retailers, of all those restauranteurs and small business owners who are shutting down across the world?

There could be no better proof that what we have currently is not capitalism in it’s true and fair form, but rather a corrupt and self-serving corporatism. France, for example has it’s “national champion” firms, whose interests the French government protects and promotes around the world. If you want to start a new energy company in France, good luck trying to ever grow to compete with EDF, France’s “preferred” energy giant.

The people sitting in the meeting rooms in Watford are the rich fat-cats who have kept our national economies chugging along at between 0-2% growth for the last six long years, all the while massively enriching themselves. And we’re supposed to believe that they want faster growth?

2. Jobs, entitlement and debt

Debt, of course, didn’t matter before the financial crisis, when Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and George W. Bush were running up huge deficits and massively expanding the size and scope of the state in both the US and the UK. And yet now, of course, we apparently must have Austerity.

So what the Bilderberg participants have basically done is make a vast number of additional people dependent on the state for some or all of their income, housing, healthcare or nutritional needs over the past decades. Then they wrecked the financial system, became “concerned” about debt (because the liabilities of the failed banks were shifted over to the public sector, i.e. us), and decided that we had to massively roll back government spending in the wake of the “sovereign debt crisis”. But because so many more people are now dependent on the government to partially sustain themselves, just small cuts to spending can cause massive suffering to large swathes of the population. Not the slice of the population chugging champagne at the Grove Hotel though, of course. I’m struggling to think of a word for what these people have done, other than Evil.

3. How big data is changing almost everything

How indeed. In a week where we have seen revelations of the US government collecting almost infinite records in terms of metadata showing the communications of people all around the world, and collecting the telephone records of US wireless telephone customers, it is very appropriate to be discussing the closeness between our biggest telecommunications, internet and technology companies and the government, during everyday interactions and at meetings such as Bilderberg. Given the fact that the Bush Administration gave retroactive immunity to all those US telecoms companies who had participated in the illegal warrantless wiretapping of American citizens, it would seem that all parties will continue to protect each other and flout the law as they please.

4. Nationalism and populism

Both elements are very much on the rise in many western countries, and the Bilderbergers apparently sat down to rub their chins and ponder the reasons why. Those such as US radio presenter and journalist Alex Jones see in the Bilderberg Group a sinister conspiracy to ultimately eliminate national borders and identities entirely, in order to establish one world government, divided into regional areas. They see the formation of super-national institutions such as the European Union and North American Union as nascent steps toward this goal.

While this is somewhat hyperbolic, it is undoubtedly true that many organisations that promote international co-operation and integration have come about, many of which make important regulatory decisions while being unaccountable to the citizens over which they wield power. So this section of the agenda could really be seen as “How do we stop the rise of political parties such as UKIP, which seek to return power to national and local levels?”

5. US foreign policy

Where to start? Given the list of Bilderberg attendees, seriously, where? Why hold this session, when virtually everyone supports the destructive status quo?

6. Africa’s challenges

At a time when South Africa’s former president and civil rights hero, Nelson Mandela, lies in a hospital bed close to death, I really do think it takes a very special level of gall to discuss the challenges facing the African continent and not invite anyone from Africa. One really must wonder whether the Bilderberg attendees are there to discuss the challenges Africa faces in building strong democracies, institutions and economies – or the problems that they face in finding new ways to undermine and exploit the African people for their own gain. Even those participants who do so much philanthropic good to help the people of Africa must marvel at the underrepresentation of African concerns and interests on the panel.

7. Cyber warfare and the proliferation of asymmetric threats

This topic was being simultaneously discussed by President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping at an informal, sun-drenched ranch in Palm Springs. The Guardian reported that the summit ended in accord “on all but cyber-espionage”.

This topic – with so much of the electronic espionage being military in nature – would seem to continue to be handled between countries on a bilateral basis rather than on an international level. Indeed, one of the ironies is that the very international networks and organisations that so many of the Bilderberg Group attendees have advocated and helped to establish are also facilitating – through standardised communications protocols, technologies and so forth – the very cyber warfare that political leaders are scrambling to stop.

8. Politics of the European Union

This is a very cryptic agenda item indeed. What could it possibly mean? The internal political workings of the European Union institutions, perhaps? Probably not, because the internal mechanics of the European Commission or Agricultural Committee can hardly be of interest to the people who work in them, let alone the Great and the Good of the world’s economic elite.

No, this section of the agenda probably refers to the politics of how the European Union is portrayed and perceived by the citizens of the member countries. This would certainly be of interest to those in the Bilderberg group because they are heavily invested in the super-national entity not falling apart under the wave of unprecedented disillusionment with – and hostility to – the burdensome, undemocratic structure.

Again, the Bilderberg membership is currently composed of about two thirds European (though not all EU member state citizens) and one third American membership – if the pronouncements on their website are to be believed. Is it really appropriate that the American members are discussing in secret how to devise strategies to make us embrace closer European integration? Indeed, is it appropriate for unelected European members, not accountable to an electorate to do so either?

The good news on this front at least is that the Bilderbergers are firmly on the back foot. Libertarian-leaning parties such as UKIP are rising around Europe, as people are increasingly saying no to the “ever closer union” of European states boldly proclaimed – with no democratic mandate – in the Treaty of Rome.

9. Developments in the Middle East

See point 6 above.

It does not help the west’s image in the Middle East when a group of people as powerful as the Bilderberg attendees – including representation from the oil and energy sector – assemble to discuss “developments in the Middle East” without inviting middle eastern interests to give their input. A cynical person might even come to the conclusion that given the unmitigated failure of the ten year long jaunt in Iraq, Bilderberg members (or at least neo-conservative) people should be expressly prohibited from coming up with new ideas about what to do next in the middle east.

You can look at all of these agenda points for the Bilderberg 2013 meeting more or less charitably, depending on your view of whether the activities of the people inside are truly malevolent (toward the Alex Jones end of the spectrum), or simply highly selfish, chronically misguided, and born of an arrogant assumption of the right to rule over the rest of us (where I currently sit).

One interesting angle on the way in which the Bilderberg Group operates and the terrific way that they seem to keep on making disastrous decisions that lead us further and further away from liberty and prosperity as the years pass is the idea of survivorship bias. In an excellent article by David McRaney, he discusses the way in which only looking at the successful outcomes and people can lead to bad decisions and proscriptions for how to enable others to succeed as well. A key paragraph is here:

You must remind yourself that when you start to pick apart winners and losers, successes and failures, the living and dead, that by paying attention to one side of that equation you are always neglecting the other. If you are thinking about opening a restaurant because there are so many successful restaurants in your hometown, you are ignoring the fact the only successful restaurants survive to become examples. Maybe on average 90 percent of restaurants in your city fail in the first year. You can’t see all those failures because when they fail they also disappear from view.

As Nassim Taleb writes in his book The Black Swan, “The cemetery of failed restaurants is very silent.” Of course the few that don’t fail in that deadly of an environment are wildly successful because only the very best and the very lucky can survive. All you are left with are super successes, and looking at them day after day you might think it’s a great business to get into when you are actually seeing evidence that you should avoid it.

Taking the non-malevolent view of the Bilderberg Group in its current form (or even to account for some of the failures of New World Order Bilderberg), one could posit that the reason that so many of the actions taken by the membership over the years have been so harmful to most is because the membership is comprised entirely of the successful. None of the protesters standing outside were allowed to remonstrate with the Great Ones within. No refugees from the middle east Arab Spring. No malnourished people from Africa. No failed small business owners from the town of Watford itself, which has struggled in the recession.

If every year you and your chums reassemble at the next Bilderberg meeting and find yourselves even more spectacularly successful and wealthy than the last time you met, “more of the same” could start to seem like a pretty good prescription. Of course, this would also take mental blinders of the most immense kind, to remain unaware of the suffering of the majority. But to some extent we all block out the sufferings of the people worse off than us. How much more magnified must this be if you sit at the very pinnacle of society?

An unlikely theory to be sure, but one to chew on as the helicopters and chauffer-driven cars depart from the Grove Hotel in Watford, and the steel fence is deconstructed.

So where do we go from here?

There are few courses of action open to us other than to continue to shine the bright light of scrutiny on the activities of these arrogant people, who presume to come to my country, establish themselves in luxury accommodations behind a steel wall, and make in secret the decisions which will influence the course of our lives.

Patriot Watch, Ctd. 5 – Bilderberg Meeting

I’m removing the ” ” quotation mark symbols around this particular edition of Patriot Watch, because I think Alex Jones is right and undeserving of parody on something rather crucial currently taking place. His show from Wednesday 5th June, broadcast from London, is shown in full below:

 

Currently, the Bilderberg group of elites from the worlds of royalty, finance, media and industry are meeting at an exclusive hotel in the town of Watford, Hertfordshire, England.

For those who hear the word “Bilderberg” and immediately think “nonsensical conspiracy theory and black helicopters” – it is not – at least not as much as in the group is real and exists. They actually have a website now, which briefly details their official public aims, and meeting dates (but crucially, no minutes of those meetings or list of decisions taken or policies approved to be implemented). You can find their own website here to verify.

Why should any of this matter?

Well, as Alex Jones of InfoWars.com fame (or notoriety) says, if 150 of the biggest entertainers, movie stars and other celebrities, mostly very wealthy private individuals, were meeting for several days at an exclusive resort with tight, taxpayer-funded security around it, not only would the TMZ.com helicopter be flying overhead capturing live footage, but hundreds of thousands of people would converge on the scene to see their favourite stars and find out what was taking place inside.

But when people who hold the real reigns of power in our world – the heads of the largest banks, tech companies, royalty and others – meet with people who are currently in government (both George Osborne and Ed Balls, the UK’s chancellor and shadow chancellor respectively are attending, along with various heads of state and politicians from other countries, no one seems to care.  Even though surely, the least crazy conclusion to reach is that those people serving in government are going to come away from their luxurious meeting and enact policies that primarily serve the interests of the high-flyers with whom they were consorting?

Fortunately, more people are now starting to pay attention to this hide-in-the-open-air tactic of our elites meeting in wide open but unapproachable view to stitch up policies that benefit them but harm almost everybody else. See this interview on-site outside the Bilderberg steel wall, with UKIP MEP for London, Gerard Batten:

 

As Batten correctly states, people increasingly feel that government is something that is done to them, rather than of them, by them and for them, as is the ideal that we all hopefully still share, and was so eloquently expressed by Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address of 1863.

Hence, partly, the appeal of the Tea Party in America, and UKIP in Britain. Anything anti-establishment and perceived of being outside the rotten, corrupted system is being embraced with ever-increasing fervour.

I’m not writing this post to announce that I am now a card-carrying InfoWars subscriber, or that now I suddenly believe that the JFK assassination was a conspiracy, in “false flags”, or that the US government perpetrated or allowed the 9/11 attacks or the Boston Marathon bombings. Not at all.

But is it not a mightily strange coincidence that the people currently gathered at the Grove Hotel in Watford, Hertfordshire, UK – the royalty and dignitaries and media moguls and industry titans and captains of finance – have all done extraordinarily well financially and professionally, even since the great recession tore through our countries, while we have faced lost jobs, long term unemployment, fewer prospects, food insecurity, rising inflation, increased taxation and reduced living standards?

If Bilderberg were just a club for the rich of the world to get together and play golf, protected by their own privately-funded security, that would be one thing – even though, as Adam Smith wisely and presciently wrote in The Wealth of Nations:

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. (Chapter X, Part II)

But Bilderberg is more than this because (1) we the people, through our taxes, are paying for these people to be shielded with privacy and protected with armed police, and (2) our elected officials are going to meet with them, and we will have no record of with whom they met, what was discussed in their meetings, or what was decided at the outcome.

There will be no press conference or public statements, as at least you get from self-congratulatory back-slapping events such as the Davos Forum. Just silence, silence that we are supposed to accept from our elected leaders after they share lobster dinners year after year with these elites, whilst meanwhile year after year these elites magically manage to continue to prosper, even as we the people suffer.

And as for the argument that our intrepid media would of course bring it to our attention if anything untoward or bad were taking place, when it comes to journalists and their role covering and exposing nefarious deeds or acts that are contrary to the public good, their credentials and reputations are totally and utterly undermined, in the US by their fawning over power and inability to question the Bush Administration’s feeble reasoning for war with Iraq, and in the UK by the phone hacking scandal, as just two of their most recent abdications of professional ethics failures.

So it can hardly be a surprise when the BBC’s lone reporter on the scene accuses Alex Jones of conspiracy theorising, shares none of his curiosity about what might be going on behind the big steel fence, and tries to provoke him into another one of his famous Piers Morgan show-style rants:

 

This video clip is many things, but good journalism it is not, from the BBC, and I would defy any right-thinking person to disagree with me. And if this is what we get from one of the most “prestigious” news and media organisations in the world, who knows what other news organisations might have overlooked, disdained, ignored, covered up or fawned over in the past, leaving us all in the dark? Can we then trust Sky News in the UK, or Fox News in the US, given their ownership? Of course not.

I find it strange and somewhat of a stylistic and political departure to be writing this article, but I’m sick and I’m tired. I don’t think it’s right that someone like Mitt Romney can pay a far lower effective rate of tax than me because he derives his income from investments whereas I derive mine from a salary. I think that if fairness means anything, tax rates should be flat.

I don’t understand why it should be that shoplifting or marijuana possession can see a person sent to prison and their life ruined, but conspiring to fix the LIBOR rate doesn’t result in any conviction for any of the people involved.

Oh, I understand why it is, but not why it should be.

And for all of his over-exaggerations, egotism, self-promotion and tendency to see the New World Order in every single event that happens around the world, Alex Jones and others like him are some of the only ones talking about this, even while they are mocked by the haughty, semi-secure, comfortable middle class journalists and newsreaders who are much closer to the edge of the economic precipice than they realise.

I’ve had enough of it. I want to know who my elected representatives are meeting at that sealed-off, taxpayer funded security protected site for wealthy private individuals. I want to see the pertinent minutes after the meeting detailed lists of what was discussed with elected officials, what was decided, and what new cack-handed policies we can expect to germinate in our national and EU legislatures as a result of the super-rich gala bash taking place in Watford this week.

Call me an idealist, but I still believe that my government should be first and foremost accountable to me, a British citizen, and not to Amazon or Starbucks or Google or Jeff Bezos or Eric Schmidt or Bill Gates (for all the excellent philanthropic work his foundation may do), or anyone or anything else other than other living, breathing, British citizens.

Semi-Partisan Sam is saying No.