A banner welcomes Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney to the 2012 Bilderberg conference. Photograph: Hannah Borno for the Guardian
Another conference over. Charlie Skelton talks to some of the 800 activists outside the gates to find out what they learned
What a Bilderberg it’s been. Big names, big money, big decisions, big crowds. Somewhere around 800 activists outside the gates (up from about a dozen in 2009), and inside? Well, here’s what we learned.
A Mitt Romney attendance?
Four eyewitnesses on the hotel staff told me Willard Mitt Romney was here at Bilderberg 2012. My four eyewitnesses place him inside. That’s one more than Woodward and Bernstein used. Romney’s office initially refused to confirm or deny his attendance as Bilderberg is “not public”. They later said it was not him.
So, was he being crowned, or singing for his supper? Will Mitt Romney follow in the august footsteps of Clinton, Cameron and Blair to have attended Bilderberg and then shortly become leader? Four years ago, Senator Obama shook off his press detail and nipped (many think) into Bilderberg. This exact same hotel.
Did Romney have to get down on one knee in front of David Rockefeller? This sounds flippant, but it’s a serious question: has Bilderberg switched allegiance? Are they going to toss away Obama after just one term?
I put this question to author and Bilderberg expert Webster Tarpley. Is Wall Street going to throw its chips in with Romney? “I think there’s a frisson that’s gone through the ruling class against Obama,” he says. The leak we had from the flirty hotel staffer corroborated this. “They don’t seem to like Obama very much,” he said.
Tarpley’s conclusion is this: “They want Romney and Mitch Daniels, who will run together as moderate rightists.” Governor Daniels of Indiana was on the official list.
* The official list is nonsense: You won’t see the names Mitt Romney or Bill Gates on the officially released Final List of Participants because, well, the list is a nonsense. It’s nothing like a complete list of people who attend Bilderberg. It’s a smokescreen, a bit of spin. So can we all, please, stop repeating it as gospel?
* Attending Bilderberg 2012 as an ‘international’ participant was Bassma Kodmani.
So who is Bassma Kodmani? The answer to that question is also the answer to the question: what the hell is happening in Syria? This is where it gets interesting (and worrying) for Bilderberg followers.
Kodmani was at Bilderberg in 2008, the last time it was here in Chantilly. She is a member of the European Council on foreign relations – its parent group, the council on foreign relations, is a sort of über lobby group, a couple of rungs down from Bilderberg, but still hugely powerful.
There’s a lot of CFR/Bilderberg crossover. Honorary chairman of both is David Rockefeller; co-chairman of the CFR is Robert Rubin (he was here); and on the CFR’s board of directors are Fouad Ajami and Henry Kravis, both at Bilderberg 2012.
The Guardian has always been spot on reporting on Bilderberg since 1999