Keith Alexander at Bilderberg: Private citizen or public official?

2016-07-12-keith alexander

It’s been public knowledge for some time that Keith Alexander, the retired general and former director of the National Security Agency, has on several occasions attended the prestigious and secretive annual Bilderberg meetings. Alexander last went in 2014, when the conference was held in Copenhagen, Denmark. What is less clear, however, as new documents surface, is whether Alexander has gone to the shadowy meetings in a public or private capacity.

Named for the hotel in the Netherlands where the first meeting was held in 1954, Bilderberg is once-a-year get together of the financial, business, and political elite of Europe and North America. The guest list of heavyweights in attendance at the latest meeting, held in June in Dresden, Germany, included another general (and former CIA director): David Petraeus, along with Silicon Valley billionaires Peter Thiel and Eric Schmidt, diplomat and secret conference aficionado Henry Kissinger, and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), and that’s just on the American side.

“Throughout the years, the annual meetings have become a forum for discussion on a wide range of topics – from trade to jobs, from monetary policy to investment and from ecological challenges to the task of promoting international security,” according to the website for the meetings, which notoriously provides little more information than a list of guests and broad topics, and even that is only provided just days before the meeting itself.

Echoing language found on the Bilderberg website, memos apparently penned by Alexander that were recently released through a Freedom of Information Act request (after a 5 year delay from the NSA) stress the private nature of the meeting. “At the meetings, no resolutions are proposed, no votes are taken, and no policy statements are issued. The names of the participants, as well as the agenda, are made available to the press. There are no more than about 130 participants who are chosen for their experience, their knowledge, and their standing,” according to one memo. “About two-thirds come from Europe and the balance from North America. About one-third is from government and politics, and two-thirds from finance, industry, labor, education, and communications. Participants are invited to attend Bilderberg in a private, not an official, capacity.” (emphasis Alexander’s)

The emphasis on this last sentence is especially peculiar given that two of the memos, which both include the emphasized passage and are addressed to the under secretary of defense for intelligence, specifically request approval for Alexander’s attendance “in an official capacity.” It is hard to know what to make of these documents, as the rest of the paragraph after “official capacity” is redacted, as are other parts of the memos.

Indeed, of the 19 pages released in response to the FOIA request, four are essentially whited-out in their entirety, and others are heavily redacted. Lest one think the mention of Alexander’s attendance in his “official capacity” was a typo, however, another document in the collection provides compelling evidence otherwise. A “request and travel authorization/expense report” included in the recently released documents shows that Alexander billed costs of his 2011 trip to Switzerland for Bilderberg as work expenses, including a $904 charge for his hotel in St. Moritz.

While it is unclear what, if any clarification, the redacted sections of the memos and other documents offer on the matter of Alexander’s private and/or public role in the clandestine world of Bilderberg, the blurring of lines between governmental and private power is hardly something new to the conferences.

“In order to not be accused of starting an unofficial political ‘mafia’, we decided from the outset not to consider ourselves a policy-making body but to have as our principle aim the smoothing over of difficulties and tendencies among countries and the finding of a common approach in the various fields – political, cultural, economic, and social,” an early Bilderberger wrote, reflecting on the meetings. “Moreover, we do not contemplate taking any direct action. We draw the attention of existing organizations to the points in question; what those organizations do remains their own responsibility. For this side of our work, however, we have always had the tacit approval of the Governments of the countries to which the participants belong.”

 

 

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