Whistleblowers to speak at drone symposium

Talks held strategically in USAF backyard.


If you'll be in Vegas at the end of the month, and if you have an interest in the increasing use by the U.S. military of semi-autonomous aerial weapons--drones--stop by UNLV Law for an illuminating chat.

The U.S. drone war program will be the subject of discussion at the forthcoming "Inside Drone Warfare: Perspectives of Whistleblowers, Families of Drone Victims and Their Lawyers" symposium, which will be held Wednesday, March 30, at 6 pm.

The whistleblowers in question are Christopher Aaron, a former counter-terrorism officer for the Central Intelligence Agency's drone program, and the prestigiously named Cian Westmoreland, former drone program communications technician, 606 Air Control Squadron and the 73rd Expeditionary Control Squadron of the U.S. Air Force.

Additional speakers include human rights attorney Jesselyn Radack, Director of the Whistleblower & Resource Protection Progam (WHISPeR), and Shelby Sullivan-Bennis, counter-terrorism case worker for the human rights law firm Reprieve.org

For those keeping track at home, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates that nearly 4,000 have been killed in U.S. drone strikes, perhaps a quarter of them innocent civilians. It's an eery echo to a common sentiment in developed nations that robots will bring about society's collapse. By reducing the consequences and potential U.S. casualties involved in armed intervention, drones have made ordering air strikes more palatable for political leaders.

According to critics, that's a travesty.

"We are holding this symposium near Creech AFB because we would like members of the drone program there to attend the symposium," says Nick Mottern, of KnowDrones.com, who, with retired Army Colonel Ann Wright, is an organizer of the symposium. He said that the Air Force was invited to have a representative appear on the symposium panel but that no response has been received.

Creech AFB, located about 65 miles from Las Vegas, is believed to be the largest drone control center inside the United States.

The symposium is being organized by Veterans for Peace and Knowdrones.com.