Jason Moon suffers from persistent insomnia as he wrestles with memories of his time in Iraq.
“We were given a direct order that if any children or civilians got in front of the vehicles in our convoy, we were not to stop, we were not to slow down, we were to keep driving,” says the former US National Guard and Army Reserve member.
“In the event an insurgent attacked us from behind human shields, we were supposed to count. If there were 30 or less civilians we were allowed to fire into the area. If there were over 30, we were supposed to take fire and send it up the chain of command.
“These were the rules of engagement. I don’t know about you, but if you are getting shot at from a crowd of people, how fast are you going to count, and how accurately?”
Moon took part in Winter Soldier, a public testimony organised in the US earlier this month by Iraq Veterans Against the War.
It takes its name from the Winter Soldier testimony by Vietnam veterans in 1971, which played a part in turning public opinion against that war.
When I was reporting from Iraq for eight months on and off between November 2003 and February 2005, Iraqis told me of atrocities US soldiers were committing.
The accounts now from soldiers themselves confirm an awful picture.
“An Iraqi was once selling soda out of a motorcycle to soldiers in a waiting convoy,” says Moon. “In the sidecar was his seven to eight year old child.
“When the man refused to go away, the military police on patrol put him to the ground with a gun to his head and started stripping his vehicle and searching it.
“They then took the child, picked it up into the air, and threw it full force onto the ground. I didn’t see the child get up.”
Moon brought back a video that shows his sergeant declaring, “The difference between an insurgent and an Iraqi civilian is whether they are dead or alive.”
He explained the sergeant’s thinking: “If you kill a civilian he becomes an insurgent – because you retroactively make that person a threat.”