Do no harm — unless you’re a “behavioral scientist”

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The New York Times today reports that military doctors at Guantánamo have been schooling interrogators in how to best to mess with detainees’ bodies and minds, including “providing advice on how to increase stress levels and exploit fears.” Now, call me a stickler, but this seems just a bit at odds with the old Hippocratic Oath, no? Retorts the Pentagon: Only if you pedantically insist on viewing the doctors as, you know, doctors.

Bryan Whitman, a senior Pentagon spokesman, declined to address the specifics in the accounts. But he suggested that the doctors advising interrogators were not covered by ethics strictures because they were not treating patients but rather were acting as behavioral scientists.

He said that while some health care personnel are responsible for “humane treatment of detainees,” some medical professionals “may have other roles,” like serving as behavioral scientists assessing the character of interrogation subjects.

Behavioral scientist, heal thyself.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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