Dick Cheney’s Logical Fallacy

A long time ago, I learned that one should not begin a letter–and I suppose now an email, blog, tweet, etc., with an excuse. Nonetheless, I will mention this now and expand on it in a subsequent post; there have been a lot of issues going on, not the least of  which is being ill and in the hospital a few days. This is my excuse for an irregular  and infrequent posting schedule  for  some time now. Anyway, on to the topic of the day. The former vice-president continues to extol the  virtues of the Bush administration policies post 9/11, crediting them with preventing another terror attack. Most recently he reaffirmed this on Face the Nation last Sunday. Never one to let the facts get in the way of strongly held personal beliefs (like his “boss?” George W. Bush), Cheney offered an exemplary example of post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore because of this), a common logical fallacy. Admittedly a little less silly than the joke about the guy snapping his fingers to keep the tigers away (“but there aren’t any tigers around here,” says the onlooker who asks why he is doing this. “Ah you see how well it works then, eh?” the snapper replies).Closing Guantanamo? It will make us less secure. Stopping torture? Less secure. And so goes Cheney’s opinions. The Bush policies collectively, many of which the Obama administration  have reversed, prevented another attack after 9/11. How do we know that? Because none occurred, so it must have been the policies–post hoc ergo propter hoc. Sorry Dick, that just won’t do. Torture worked he insists. Release the records that will prove it he demands of the Obama administration. The trouble is, even if it worked some of the time, how can we be sure it worked when it needed to work? Because we never had another attack of course. On the other hand, Ibn al-Sheik al-Libi, who recently died in a Libyan prison, was a detainee that gave false information in 2001-2002, that Iraq had provided training in chemical and biological weapons to al-Qaeda operatives. This formed one of the rationales for invading Iraq. [see Washington Post article, Tuesday, May 12, 2009] Was he tortured? Allegedly.