Defending the indefensible: Obama’s rhetoric in the aftermath of the torture report

Hatzisavvidou, Sophia (2015) Defending the indefensible: Obama’s rhetoric in the aftermath of the torture report. Global Discourse, 5 (4). pp. 602-615. ISSN 2326-9995

[thumbnail of Accepted manuscript] Microsoft Word (Accepted manuscript) - Accepted Version
Download (156kB)


This article offers an analysis of Obama’s response to the publication of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) torture report. Using rhetoric as its mode of inquiry, the article demonstrates how Obama employed epideictic discourse to define and redefine national ethos, to reconstruct and restore acts and actors and to avoid deliberation about further investigation and prosecution. The article discusses the political implications of epideictic rhetoric, the genre of speech considered the least pertinent to political life, and proposes that epideictic rhetoric can be an effective tool for political actors. Obama, the article argues, by using epideictic rhetoric shifted topic from a political issue, the accountability of members of the executive branch and the CIA, to an ethical issue, ‘who Americans are’. Despite avoiding political rhetoric, Obama’s epideictic affirmed torture as policy choice and left the possibility open for the use of similar practices in the future.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: rhetoric,obama,torture,epideictic,ethos,amplification,cia,discourse,sdg 16 - peace, justice and strong institutions ,/dk/atira/pure/sustainabledevelopmentgoals/peace_justice_and_strong_institutions
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies
Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2016 00:47
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2022 01:31
DOI: 10.1080/23269995.2015.1053198

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item