It’s Day One of the 61st Bilderberg Conference, now underway at the swank Grove Hotel in the town of Watford, 20 miles northeast of London. Though police have no specific intelligence about terrorism threats against the very private meeting of global luminaries, the area is essentially cordoned off.
There is a no-fly zone overhead. The hotel is surrounded by a new concrete and wire barrier now deemed “The Great Wall of Watford” by the local press. Pedestrian, auto and even boat traffic has been halted near the hotel through Sunday. Barricades are everywhere. It’s a challenge.
Law enforcement must keep flocks of costumed protestors, activists, performers, stray journalists, bloggers, broadcasters, conspiracy theorists and musicians at bay. The uninvited have gathered on streets, meadows and camp grounds, convinced that the uber-powerful are deciding the planet’s fate over coffee.
The noisy riffraff crowd pine for an encounter with - or at least a sighting - of the 138 guests who arrived Thursday in limousines with darkened privacy windows. The list of the mighty includes everyone from former CIA Director David H. Petraeus and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Google Inc. CEO Eric Schmidt.
Amazon and Google? A look at the Bilderberg agenda, from a 12-item program reveals one item of interest for the rich, powerful and influential: “how big data is changing everything.”
Also on the docket: “nationalism and populism” plus “cyber warfare and the proliferation of asymmetrical threats.”
The Times of London will have none of the hysteria, though. While other publications still frame the conference as shadowy and sinister even after six decades, the British paper dismisses the forum as “not so much conspiracy - more Rotary Club.”