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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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June 6th, 2013
06:34 PM ET

Global elite gather for Bilderberg conference

The notion of “secret societies” often conjures up images of groups of rich old men sitting around a ridiculously long table, all trying to top each other with their best diabolical laugh.

It makes for a fun cartoon, but in reality such societies and secretive meetings do exist.

One is going on right now behind closed doors in the English countryside.

The Bilderberg Group is a meeting of most-influential people in Europe and North America - Wall Street investors, business moguls, politicians, and royalty. They are coming together and keeping the media and everyone else out.

The conference that began on Thursday in the Hertfordshire County is all off the record, which has fired up conspiracy theorists for years.

Security was tight at The Grove Hotel, where 140 members of the global elite arrived.

The guest list includes the head of the International Monetary Fund, former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, the heads of Amazon.com, Google, and BP Oil, former CIA Director David Petraeus - and what's a top-secret cabal of puppet masters without Henry Kissinger?

Organizers are tight lipped about discussions, saying only that topics will range from the economy, to jobs, to U.S. foreign policy, what the organizers call, "megatrends and the major issues facing the world."

Organizers also said it is all private so participants "can take time to listen, reflect and gather insights."

Protestors from around the globe have descended on the venue – objecting to the secret nature of the meetings, which have been going on behind closed doors among European and American elites since 1954.

"It's just a gathering of people who are concerned that our elected politicians who promised transparency are meeting in secret with heads of top banks, pharmaceutical companies, weapons companies, you name it, European royalty are in there sort of thing. It's just incredible that they can sort of say one thing and do the other," said protester and blogger Daniel Kirby.

Many believe this is just another group of people who secretly run the world, including noted author, provocateur, and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones from Info Wars.

"Why do we have to leave? It's like we're all serfs. It's back to feudalism!" Jones protested in a video on YouTube.

He is broadcasting live from the conference this week.

Some pretty nutty conspiracy theories about the group abound - like they are hiding the cure for cancer, for example. Conspiracy theorists aside, there is reason for others to be wary, as these masters of the universe confab away from cameras.

The conference wraps up on Sunday.

Organizers say there will be no resolutions, no votes, and no policy statements.

I think it's very naive to think all of these people are going to turn up for a meeting unless it has some kind of effect," said Gerard Batten, member of the European Parliament for London.

"I'm sure that they are actually reaching decisions about which way public policy should be going in the countries that are being represented and of course in the European Union," said Batten.

Viewers will have to wait and see if any of the attendees choose to speak about what happened at the conference.

CNN's Jake Tapper's invitation appears to have been lost in the mail, an oversight "The Lead" hopes will be corrected next year.

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