- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 6, 2002

The Trilateral Commission long viewed by critics and conspiracy theorists as a secret world-government-in-waiting will begin its annual meeting today in Washington to discuss the future of the world's three main industrialized continents post-September 11.

Under the chairmanship of former House Speaker Thomas S. Foley, the conference will gather 250 political, business and academic leaders from Europe, North America and Japan, who will analyze the global response to the September 11 terrorist attacks, the United States' foreign policy and the situation in the Middle East.

"The running line at this meeting is definitely going, 'What do we do now, and where do we go from here?'" said Francois Sauzey, the commission's press officer. As usual, all meetings and panel discussions will be closed to the public.

Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan will report on the Islamic world's contribution to globalization, and former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo will highlight his ongoing work on financing development since the U.N. Monterrey Conference.

Also, World Trade Organization Director-General Mike Moore is scheduled to lead a panel discussion on the next steps in the multilateral trading regime after his organization's recent Fourth Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar, where the problems of developing countries' implementing the WTO agreements were discussed.

Other debates will focus on the challenge of reducing poverty and financing development in lesser-developed countries, economic reform and recovery in Japan, the state of the U.S. and world economies, and China in the international system.

Among other political leaders who are expected to attend the three-day meeting are Vice President Richard B. Cheney, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata and former head of the U.S. Federal Reserve Board Paul Volcker.

The Trilateral Commission was founded in 1973 by David Rockefeller, who was then chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank. A few years later, the commission became a target of conspiracy theorists after at least 25 commission members joined the Carter administration, including Vice President Walter Mondale, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, Defense Secretary Harold Brown and National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Since then, the commission has been called a "shadow government," the "Establishment" and a "global elite" that runs the world, among other things.

Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr., a six-time presidential candidate who was convicted of conspiracy charges, once said the commission is behind the international drug trade, and is plotting to raise taxes on Americans and siphon the money overseas. Evangelist Pat Robertson has said the commission "springs from the depth of something that is evil."

Members of the 29-year-old commission laugh off the conspiracy theories. Although it is a private organization, its publications and memberships are public. "It's so absurd I can't help but, to some extent, find it amusing," Mr. Rockefeller said in a 1996 interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The commission also invites as many as 10 news editors or reporters to attend the annual meeting. "We're not a cult," Mr. Sauzey said. "These theories are total nonsense, but they're fun to hear."

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