Earlier this month, the Public Intelligence website presented its “Bilderberg Primary Source Academic Material Archive” (Figure 1), which contains the PDF files of some 38 Bilderberg conference reports between 1954 and 2002, plus a number of other primary documents, including official Bilderberg notices to participants, selected discussion papers, correspondence and meeting notes written by participants. It is quite a trove that is of enormous value to any serious researcher into the Bilderberg Group as it fills in large gaps in the record about the annual conference, making it easier to uncover how it has influenced transatlantic policy over the past 62 years.
I was first alerted to the existence of this website by a writer from The New American who asked me if I was aware of this new source and whether they were authentic. I was familiar with these documents having been provided with copies earlier through another source. Moreover, contrary to the excited claims of some web commentators in the past couple of weeks that this was a damaging new “leak”, almost all of these documents had already been posted online at Scribd a couple of years earlier by “bilderbergboys” (Figure 2).
The existence of these documents at Scribd was observed by some keen web surfers, though not, it seems by those now excited by the Public Intelligence data dump. For example, just over a year ago an academic researcher on the Bilderberg.org forum (Figure 3) pointed out the rich documentary source on Scribd.
More importantly, far from being a “leak” as claimed by Press for Truth’s Dan Dicks (among others), the ultimate source for most of these documents is not much of a mystery, as even an excitable report by WeAreChange.org conceded:
The following documents were obtained from a variety of sources who contributed copies of documents related to the Bilderberg Group from academic institutions. Documents contributed to the collection are sometimes photocopied and in other cases photographed page by page during visits to academic institutions, diplomatic libraries and legal archives including the Presidential Library of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Harvard Law Library, the National Archive and the archive of former State Department official and member of the Bilderberg Steering Committee Robert Murphy held at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University (emphasis added)
Most of the documents have stamps on them from the various government, academic and personal collections from where they originate. The most recent conference report in the archive, from the 2002 meeting in Chantilly,Virginia, for example, has a call number, barcode and library stamp from the Library of Congress (Figure 4):
The providence of this Bilderberg Meeting report can be confirmed by looking in the online catalogue for the Library of Congress (Figure 5):
We can largely prove the providence of most of these documents through these means, and the fact they lack the crass, amateurish language of more obvious fake documents of dubious origins, such as “Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars” (actually written by a prisoner Hartford Van Dyke who denied it was a “paranoid manifesto” and insisted it was a “politically biased technical instruction manual”, one he had authored), or Report from Iron Mountain (1967) (a satire of the Cold War military-industrial complex still mistaken for a real document). Indeed, much of the language in the conference reports, though clearly containing moments of candour, can be quite dull for those looking for something more sensational.
But are these documents of any use? By themselves the usefulness of these documents is actually quite limited. While the identities of the panellists is sometimes revealed, only the nationality of the participants in the following discussions is shown, making it difficult to identify which politician or public official was deviating from their government’s usual policy line. Readers looking for proof that the Bilderbergers planned the 1973 oil shock, for example, are likely to be sorely disappointed once they actually read the full conference report for the Bilderberg meeting that year in Saltsjöbaden, Sweden.
In truth the Bilderberg conference reports are only useful if they are understood in their historical context and as the start point of an effort to shape and influence elite opinion. For example, in my article from last year on whether Bilderberg influenced President Nixon’s opening to Communist China I drew on three Bilderberg conference reports to document how the US-Red China rift was repeatedly criticised by European Bilderbergers. But to show how Bilderberg sought to translate that criticism into a change in US foreign policy it was necessary to dig into a huge number of other sources to document the involvement of key US Bilderberg members in a range of efforts designed to challenge the status quo on Red China.
Behind Closed Doors
To be sure, reading a Bilderberg conference report can still be illuminating, as Dan Dicks’ analysis of the 2002 report demonstrates, where he noted what seemed (to him at least) to be a number of examples of Bilderberg prescience about the value of the US dollar and problems with the current account deficit. On the impending invasion of Iraq, however, Dicks overstates it with his article “Bilderberg Documents Leaked! – Iraq War Plan Exposed!” Focusing on the contributions by French academic Dominique Moisi and American neo-conservative gadfly Richard Perle, Dicks makes some questionable statements that fail to capture the true significance of the exchange on the impending US invasion of Iraq. Only by looking at the broader context can one grasp the importance of that session.
Dicks presents as evidence of a “clear difference from what Bilderberg members are telling the media and the public from what they are saying to each other”, the following observations from Moisi:
There is no doubt the world would be a safer place without Saddam Hussein. But can you get rid of him swiftly and elegantly? The region may get yet more dangerous after a war on Iraq (Bilderberg Meetings, Chantilly, May 30th – June 2nd, 2002, p.16).
Moisi’s prescient comment the region may become “more dangerous” after Saddam was gone is compelling; but contrary to Dicks’ claims, Moisi had gone on to express these views in public. Writing in the Financial Times (Jun. 03, 2002) almost immediately after Bilderberg –in fact Moisi even alluded to Bilderberg when he admitted to having just attended “a major European-American dialogue near Washington DC…” – he made the same observation:
On the issue of Iraq, most Europeans accept that the world would be a better place without Saddam Hussein. But they believe it is easier to dispose of his regime than to recreate a stable and unified Iraq (emphasis added)
Moisi repeated these concerns again, and at length, in another piece in the Financial Times (Sep. 23, 2002) just a few months later:
All the same, most French oppose a unilateral US strike against Iraq. The government does not question US military superiority or that Mr Hussein’s regime could collapse even more quickly than that of the Taliban in Afghanistan. What it and many others question is the political legitimacy of Washington’s strategy and the extent of US commitment to Iraq post-Hussein. Washington is better at overthrowing regimes than at rebuilding states. Democratising the Middle East, starting with Iraq, is a justifiable objective – but one full of potentially dangerous illusions (emphasis added).
As a public intellectual, in his then role as Deputy Director of the French Institute for International Relations, it was highly unlikely that Moisi would not publish a version of his paper to Bilderberg. Moreover, it is standard practice for those presenting at Bilderberg to have their papers published elsewhere. Thus, contrary to Dicks’ strange claims, the difference of opinion between Moisi and Perle continued to be displayed in their public commentary, and was reflected at much higher levels in the angry rift between Paris and Washington when France refused to back the invasion at the United Nations.
Dicks also focused on this segment from Perle’s presentation:
[T]he United States (unlike most of its allies) has the ability to take the war against terrorism to the terrorists, and it may be forced to go it alone in exercising this ability. It will be much quicker if we all do it together. Saddam has invaded his neighbours. He possesses chemical weapons. He is feverishly working to become a nuclear power. His ties to terrorist organisations force us to consider the possibility that he will distribute those weapons to terrorists. Can we wait for this to happen? The United States has no choice but to deal with Saddam: the right to self-defence must include the right to preventative action (Bilderberg Meetings, Chantilly, May 30th – June 2nd, 2002, p.16).
According to Dicks commentary:
Folks, these are all lies. Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction at all. And remember this was in 2002 here. One year before the invasion of Iraq… So this guy’s speech at Bilderberg was influencing all the right people in that room to carry these ideas outward throughout society to the point where they successfully invaded a Middle Eastern country, all based on this lie that was told at Bilderberg, one year prior to the invasion. It’s just unbelievable.
But Dicks manages to miss the real significance of Perle’s presentation. First, Perle’s claims did not differ from his public claims about Iraq. Appearing on CNBC’s Hardball with late Chris Matthews just a month before Bilderberg, Perle had already put forward the case for “preventative action” against Iraq:
Mr. PERLE: The reason–the reason for going after Saddam Hussein is that he poses a threat to the United States and that’s true whether he was involved in September 11 or not, whether Mohamed Atta met with his man in Prague or not.
MATTHEWS: Well, the American people would be more inclined to support a war against Iraq if they thought Iraq was involved with attacking us, right?
Mr. PERLE: Well, the question is: Given Saddam Hussein’s attitude toward the United States, given his possession of weapons of mass destruction and the possibility that he’s going to acquire nuclear weapons, do the American people want to sit and wait and hope that nothing happens? We waited too long before September 11. We knew that bin Laden was operating these camps (CNBC, Hardball, May 01, 2002; emphasis added).
He had made a similar argument in the New York Times just months after the attacks on 9/11 that the “war against terrorism cannot be won if Saddam Hussein continues to rule Iraq.” Pointing to Saddam’s “hatred” of the US, his “clandestine program” of WMD, and his support for terrorism, Perle had argued the Iraqi leader “forces President Bush to make a similar choice: to take pre-emptive action or wait, possibly until it is too late.”
Second, what happened at Bilderberg was redundant as President George W. Bush had already made the decision to invade Iraq. Bush had already been talking about removing Saddam before he even took office, and had begun planning the attack as early as December 2001. According to one recent book, Bush resisted a push from his Vice President, Dick Cheney, to launch an attack in spring of 2002 (Peter Baker, Days of Fire, p.7). Well before Bilderberg met in 2002, the invasion of Iraq was a fait accompli.
In short there was nothing unusual about Perle’s message at Bilderberg: it was exactly the same argument he was already making publicly. What should be surprising is its consistency: that in a venue where participants are encouraged to speak with utmost candour he still did not deviate from his public script. No admission that Iraq’s WMD threat was a furphy, that other motives – such as: making an example of Iraq to scare the Arabs and demonstrate US power in the Middle East after 9/11; removing a key threat from Israel’s eastern front; and dominating Iraqi oil – were really driving US aggression. By sticking to his public script Perle was using Bilderberg to try to shore up more support from wavering and sceptical Europeans for the inevitable US-led invasion.
The record of the discussion, which Dicks manages to misinterpret, confirms that Perle’s effort was not entirely successful. While one Briton claimed that Europe “will also toe the line on Iraq”, the report conceded there were “clearly tensions between the European and American approaches” to the War on Terror (Bilderberg Meetings, Chantilly, May 30th – June 2nd, 2002, p.17). “Most participants were less concerned about the notion of war”, but many “raised questions about how it was being conducted.” A French participant suggested the US was “launching a war on too many fronts” and risked “driving all Muslims into the enemy camp” (p.18). An American participant was sceptical, arguing that removing Saddam might “set a precedent for unilateral action” and that a “successor regime might even be more convinced of the need to acquire nuclear weapons…” While another American,
…worried whether the circumstances were right. What sort of regime will replace Saddam? Who will lead a new government? And how will we get out of Baghdad once there? There is no point waging war if the region if left less stable and less democratic afterwards (ibid, p.19; emphasis added).
The differences of opinion detailed here, also reflected in the public sphere, actually lend credence to reporting in the American Free Press that there were serious splits between the Europeans and Americans about the planned invasion. The appearance of this report finally provides some clarity on how the transatlantic partners at the elite level debated the invasion.
This collection of Bilderberg documents, now at the Public Intelligence site, is of great value to researchers into Bilderberg, but only if placed in their appropriate historical context. The task of trying to understand how these meetings influenced public policy will occupy many researchers (including myself) for years to come. They provide an opportunity to cut through the speculation and unconfirmed rumours and other reporting, and begin to deal with facts. This will slowly open the door on how Bilderberg and other elite conclaves shape policy.