OY. Here we go again. Abu Ghraib, Haditha, and this:

Five U.S. Army soldiers are being investigated for allegedly raping a young woman, then killing her and three members of her family in Iraq, a U.S. military official said Friday.

The soldiers also allegedly burned the body of the woman they are accused of assaulting in the March incident, the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case....

a U.S. official close to the investigation said at least one of the soldiers, all assigned to the 502nd Infantry Regiment, has admitted his role and been arrested. Two soldiers from the same regiment were slain this month when they were kidnapped at a checkpoint near Youssifiyah.

The official told the AP the accused soldiers were from the same platoon as the two slain soldiers. The military has said one and possibly both of the slain soldiers were tortured and beheaded.

The official said the mutilation of the slain soldiers stirred feelings of guilt and led at least one of them to reveal the rape-slaying on June 22....

Senior officers were aware of the family's death but believed it was due to sectarian violence, common in the religiously mixed town, he said.

The killings appeared to have been a ''crime of opportunity,'' the official said. The soldiers had not been attacked by insurgents but had noticed the woman on previous patrols.

Every incident like this is more powerful than the millions of dollars spent by the State Department on public diplomacy. It also makes you wonder how much stuff like this goes on in Iraq that no one ever hears about it because no one confesses. There is a broad historical literature about how occupations are inherently corrupting over time, to both the occupier and the occupied, and while rapes by U.S. military personnel do occasionally occur in other nations where U.S. troops are stationed, the extensive and appalling cover-up here would not have been possible without the kind of massive power differential between U.S. troops and the local population that occupation creates.

--Garance Franke-Ruta