UPDATE – 3:35 PM Now have video interviews with Shahzad Akbar and Pakistan parliamentary member Amina Buttar that will go up some time over next day or two.

UPDATE – 12:23 PM Hina Shamsi of ACLU mentions how drone us is now part of bipartisan consensus. The US, she said, is destabilizing the international legal framework and creating a “new normal.” She outlined Freedom of Information Act lawsuits filed to pry information on the covert drone program from the hands of the US government.

Maria LaHood of the CCR talked about bringing a case on behalf of Anwar al-Awlaki’s father, Nasser al-Awlaki, to have Anwar removed from a JSOC kill list and a terrorist list. Some oddities: lawyers must get permission from the US government to legally challenge the inclusion of a person on a terror list. And, as she outlined what happened to three US citizens – Anwar, his son and Samir Khan – she closed by noting the judge’s decision on Anwar’s case because he said a judicial review would be needed to authorize spying on US citizens abroad but not for an executive order to kill a US citizen.

David Glazier, who served as US Navy surface warfare officer, compared issues surrounding drones to issues surrounding torture. He noted that CIA drone operators should be prosecuted and could be prosecuted. They are unknown. But, those authorizing their use are not. They are public officials who should be pressured like Bush officials, who authorized torture, have been pressured.

He also added that Gitmo detainees are going to trial as “unprivileged belligerents” for committing war crimes while CIA drone operators are not authorized to engage in hostilities yet are immune to prosecution.

UPDATE – 11:46 AM Panel on legality and transparency of drone use and targeted killings beginning with Hina Shamsi of ACLU, Maria LaHood of CCR and David Glazier.

UPDATE – 11:20 AM “Ethical and Political Issues of Drone Use and Targeted Killings” panel wrapping up. Sheila Caprico of Middle East Report highlighted how putting drone operations in Yemen in context of AQAP muddies what is happening. She said, “We are dropping explosives, remote-controlled, where we’ve admitted we don’t have intelligence.” And now, suspicious behavior/inciteful speech in & of itself now enough for a drone attack on any “suspect”/”militant”/civilian.

Madi Hatter, an independent journalist, heavily criticized the human rights community. While noting the value of a push for transparency and accountability, she said human rights advocates should not think this will be enough to stop the killings. She also asked, “Is it really okay to demand that these people live under conditions of terror so Americans can feel more safe?” The line between militant/civilian is a faulty line, she said.

UPDATE – 10:30 AM Shazad Akbar spoke in the opening session, showing photos of victims of drone strikes and telling stories of children who have been killed.

Original Post

A well-known peace group, CODEPINK, the legal advocacy organizations, Reprieve and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and others are gathering now in Washington, DC, for the first international summit on drones. The summit brings together lawyers, journalists, activists, human rights advocates and robotics technology experts, who will all be speaking about several issues that stem from the development, evolution and proliferation of drone technology.

The summit, taking place at Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church, will explore: ethical and political issues of drone use and targeted killings, legality and transparency of drone use and targeted killings, victims, compensation and accountability, domestic drones, surveillance and privacy concerns and an international convention on drone use will be discussed. Nation journalist Jeremy Scahill will speak during the closing session. In the opening session, Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK, Clive Stafford Smith, the director of Reprieve and Shahzad Akbar, a Pakistani lawyer who sued the US on behalf of drone strike victims, will speak.

I am at the Drone Summit. I will be posting short updates here throughout the day from the Summit. I also have my video camera with me and will be recording various speeches to be posted here at The Dissenter in the coming days. Follow @kgosztola for updates from the summit.

This is the lineup of speakers scheduled for the summit.

Here is a livestream you can watch: