“Even the most courageous among us only rarely has the courage for that which he really knows.”
F. Nietzsche, “The Twilight of the Idols”
Logicians, scientists and philosophers often refer to the logical fallacies of inference from false negative (failing to recognize evidence that is available, hence failing to draw the correct conclusion) and inference from false positive (invalidly drawing a conclusion from imagined evidence, that which simply does not exist). If nothing else, the happily departed GW Bush administration gave us great examples of each of these fallacies, the first admissible as a misstep or mistake in reasoning; the second more a case of deceptive tactic of persuasion, than a simple misstep in reasoning.
False Negatives: The GW Bush administrations completely ignoring all the signs of an impending attack on the U.S. by Al Qaeda between Jan 20, 2001 and September 10, 2001
[Investigated and reported by the 9/11 Bi-Partisan Commission, an investigation opposed by GW Bush and hindered at every turn by the administration’s lack of cooperation. ]
False Positives: All the false ‘evidence’ touted by the GW Bush administration for claiming that
a) there was a connection between the Saddam Hussein Iraqi government and the al Qaeda terrorists who attacked on 9/11 and their leader, Osama bin Laden; and
b) Iraq possessed WMDs and posed a serious military threat to the United States.
[The “false positives” fallacy was part of a well-coordinated, highly deceptive campaign to persuade Congress and the American People that an invasion of Iraq was required.]
But, of course, all of this deception by the Bush administration is history now; and we should move on to current challenges and problems instead of dredging up the past. GW Bush is gone. Forget about him! Right?
Vincent Bugliosi does not agree. He reminded me of these shameful acts (call them fallacies if you like) by the GW Bush administration, and reminded me also about the shameful capitulation by Congress, the news media, and citizens in general. He reminded me of the extent to which we became “sheep-like” in our readiness to be misled by propaganda and lies generated by Bush, Cheney, Rice and the rest of that gang.
Bugliosi reminded me of all this is his 2008 publication: The Prosecution of GW Bush for Murder .
Many of you, of course, will be put off by the title (One cannot possibly imagine that our former PODUS might be a murderer?) and will imagine that Bugliosi is a little nutty, an extreme partisan who has published a sensationalist book not worth considering. If that’s your view, you would be dead wrong. By all accounts Bugliosi is neither nutty nor an extreme partisan. He is an excellent attorney, once one of America’s best prosecutors, possessing a logical, rational mind and the courage to say what others should have been saying. But more importantly, Bugliosi is a citizen who still believes in the ideals and promise of America, and who is morally outraged by what GW Bush and company pulled off and apparently will get away with.
Bugliosi offers well developed arguments for each of his conclusions and provides a wealth of evidence in support of those conclusions, reminding us of all that happened (9/11 attacks, the war on terrorism, the 9/11 Commission to investigate the attacks, and Bush’s adventure into Iraq) during the eight years that Bush was in power. The book inserts photographs showing the death, suffering, and destruction resulting from our invasion of Iraq — juxtaposed with photos of our fearless leader, laughing and clowning around, completely unmindful of the consequences of his immoral policies. As he said once, in reply to a reporter’s question, he and Laura had spent a most enjoyable year (the same year of untold death and destruction in Iraq, and the unjust burden and deprivation for our combat personnel and their families).
I almost wish they had chosen an alternative title for the book, as the one his publisher chose comes across as too sensationalist, probably discouraging serious readers. His book deserves a wide readership.
Bugliosi has issued a challenge to our moral conscience, to our commitment to the principle in our laws (nobody is above the law), and to our respect for those who died, who sacrificed, — as a result of Bush’s invasion of Iraq. What answer do we have for not responding? I can only think of the utilitarian answer: more harm than good would result to the nation from going after Bush, Cheney and Rice.
What would it do to the collective psyche of the approximately 50% of voters who elected that team – Bush & Cheney – to lead the nation in 2000 and 2004? What would it say about our election process if those people elected to the White House were later indicted and convicted (hopefully) of murder? As the old cliché puts it, What would it do the fabric of the nation?
Others would point out that there are many more pressing problems to deal with; that going after Bush and Cheney would be disruptive, both politically and socially; and might even frustrate the new administration’s efforts to deal with the gargantuan crises left over by Bush-Cheney.
On the other hand, the nation’s integrity – moral and legal integrity — is at issue. The principle that no person is above the law is at issue. The victims of Bush’s immoral, disastrous war policy cry out for justice and honesty on our part.
Very few are clean in this matter. An overwhelming majority of people, the Congress, the news media, and our valued institutions (religions, educational, legal, philosophical) were persuaded by the official propaganda and went along with Bush-Cheney-Rice-Rumsfeld. We became war mongers! Bush-Cheney acted in our name, the citizens of the USA. Now we (collective agents) are obligated to set things right. GW Bush, Cheney, C. Rice must be brought to justice. They lied, deceived, and abused their power —- and managed to persuade Congress, the news media, and the American people to support their military invasion of a country that was no threat to the U.S. They took advantage of the 9/11 attacks, fear of more terrorist attacks, and peoples’ fear of being branded soft on terrorism.
Our valued institutions — religious, legal, philosophical, educational — failed when all this was happening.
Very few religious or political leaders came out in opposition to the war enthusiasts. Where were our sociologists and philosophers? Very few voiced opposition, and that which was heard was mostly muted and ignored. Our news media, both print and electronic, who are supposed to be “watchdogs” against abuse of power by our officials, failed miserably. Instead of critical analysis and evaluation of policy, they became the “cheering section” for Bush-Cheney.
Does the Bugliosi book suffer because it is merely dredging up old issues, which should best be left alone?
No! The issue of national integrity is not old. The issues of justice and examination of war crime are not old. The need to recognize and compensate the victims of the misguided war policy is not old. The need to examine and re-examine the events that led to our national disaster is not old.