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The conference gets its name from the first meeting in 1954 at the Bilderberg hotel in the Netherlands.

Critics say the organization’s benign description doesn’t come close to reality. It is at the Bilderberg’s annual meeting, they argue, that the world’s real rulers make major decisions with global implications, such as choosing future political leaders surreptitiously.

Some say the group also is laying the groundwork for an eventual one-world government, for plans to impose worldwide population control, and for using such global issues as climate change to repeal democracy or free speech.

What is discussed behind closed doors this year likely will remain secret, but the sheer level of security and precautions taken to keep the conference below the radar has piqued public curiosity and concern, Mr. Jones said.

“It’s all of this meeting in secret business. … People know this stuff isn’t good,” he said.