I remember as a young kid asking my lovely English grandma – “granny, what was the most scary thing about the war?”

…and she answered immediately and unequivocably – “the Doodlebugs, darling…the Doodlebugs.”

– “oh, what are those?”

“V2 rockets, love. I was back in London with your mum and aunties and grandpa was still at sea. Mister Hitler fired them over the Channel and they’d come down when they ran out of fuel…they’d explode and were very powerful. Absolutely dreadful.”

– “very, very bad, then?”

“Well, yes, you’d hear noise in the sky…and then if it became suddenly silent….that meant the rocket had run out of fuel…the silence was very, very frightening.”

– “oh.”

This reaction came from a modest, strong and resilient woman who had survived an unexploded bomb descending through her sitting room, raised four kids and endured the pain of separation – her husband, my grandpa, on Arctic patrol, dodging U-boats, as best he could.

I was reflecting on this recently when I came across the following….

A new  joint report, Living Under Drones (2012), is by Stanford University’s International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic, and New York University School of Law’s Global Justice Clinic. The 165-page study looks at key aspects of the CIA’s drone programme – its legal basis, how strikes are reported, their strategic implications – and how civilians are affected:

Men, women and children are subjected to almost constant trauma – including fear of attack, severe anxiety, powerlessness, insomnia and high levels of stress – says a nine month investigation into CIA drone strikes in Pakistan by two top US university law schools. More than 130 ‘victims, witnesses and experts’ were interviewed in Pakistan for the study.

The new study heavily challenges US government claims that few civilians have died in CIA drone strikes, saying that there is ‘significant evidence’ to the contrary. As the report notes in its executive summary: ‘In the United States, the dominant narrative about the use of drones in Pakistan is of a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the US safer by enabling “targeted killing” of terrorists, with minimal downsides or collateral impacts. This narrative is false.’