The original intention of the Bilderberger group was to further understanding between Western Europe and North America through informal meetings between influential individuals. Each year, a "steering committee" devises a selected invitation list with a maximum of 100 names. The location of their annual meeting is not secret, and the agenda and list of participants are openly available to the public, but the meetings themeselves are shrouded in secrecy. Security is managed by military intelligence. Attendees talk, lobby., and try to magnify their political clout on both sides of the Atlantic but pledge absolute secrecy on what has been discussed. The idea is to enable people to speak freely without need to carefully consider how each word might be interpreted by the mass media. On the other hand, this secrecy has also made conspiracy theorists claim that the meetings have a sinister purpose.
Depending on the ideological prism applied, the Bilderberg club may be considered:
Some of the Western world's leading financiers and foreign policy strategists attend Bilderberg. Rumsfeld is an active Bilderberger. So is General Peter Sutherland from Ireland, a former European Union commissioner and chairman of Goldman Sachs and of BP. Rumsfeld and Sutherland served together in 2000 on the board of the Swedish/Swiss energy company ABB.