Chantilly’s Westfields Marriott hotel is the site of an “unprecedented” security crackdown as the world’s richest and most powerful arrive for the annual Bilderberg conference.
Hundreds of demonstrators are expected to protest the highly secretive gathering, which kicks off Thursday and lasts through the weekend. The off-the-record meeting, well known in conspiracy lore but typically given little to no media attention each year, once again will bring together heads of state, billionaire bankers, leading businessmen and other international movers and shakers.
A perimeter of about a half-mile has been set up around the Northern Virginia hotel, and all non-Bilderberg guests reportedly were kicked out of their rooms. A photographer for The Washington Times was told by law enforcement Wednesday that any attempt to get close to the building would result in arrest.
Tight security is nothing new at the infamous meeting, but more press coverage in recent years — driven largely by social media and radio host Alex Jones, among others — has led organizers to thicken the protective shell around the conference to new heights.
And thus further feeding the rumor mill.
“This year, it’s the biggest ever. The security is leveraged up big time. It’s unprecedented,” Mr. Jones, one of the loudest Bilderberg critics, said in an interview Wednesday after he and his staff were told to remove themselves from the hotel or risk arrest.
But Fairfax County police say that some reports — including rumors on Twitter and elsewhere that law enforcement personnel have threatened would-be trespassers with machine guns — are being blown out of proportion.
“Obviously, police officers carry guns. That’s part of the deal,” Officer Shelley Broderick, county police spokeswoman, told The Times. “Obviously, we’re aware of this [meeting]. We do have officers working with the hotel and the [Bilderberg] organization, just to make sure everything goes fine. We’re working to make sure everything goes OK.”
The official Bilderberg guest list is kept under wraps, as are the specific topics for discussion. Rumored to be at the top of the agenda this year is the European financial crisis.
Frequent attendees, including Henry A. Kissinger and David Rockefeller, are expected again. A copy of last year’s guest list, leaked to a journalist covering the conference, offers a window into just how much influence Bilderberg guests wield.
Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick, European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and Greek Minister of Finance George Papaconstantinou were reportedly among those in attendance at the 2011 meeting in Switzerland.
Global business titans, government officials and political figures rounded out the guest list of more than 100, though skeptics suspect dozens of names, especially of high-profile individuals, are kept off of it.
The Bilderberg organization releases virtually no information about the meeting.
Its website, bilderbergmeetings.org, states that the yearly conference “is a small, flexible, informal and off-the-record international forum in which different viewpoints can be expressed and mutual understanding enhanced.”
It goes on to explain that “at the meetings, no resolutions are proposed, no votes taken and no policy statements issued.”
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.