Waterboarding was used in interrogations before President Barack Obama banned it in 2009. It is useful when criminals or enemies would not give the valuable information during interrogations. They usually would be treated like this: their arms and legs will be held still on a hard-wooden board. Their faces will be covered with a towel, then someone would pour a basket of water their face, the water come through that towel which makes them impossible to breathe.
It sounds like a torture, but according to Legal Justification for Waterboarding on the waterboarding website, it records that “waterboarding’ is not an act ‘specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering’ because: Drowning cannot be described as ‘physical pain’ and therefore does not cause ‘pain and suffering.’ However, if waterboarding is not torture, is that any normal person can stand that? A British-American writer Christopher Hitchens go to experience the waterboarding by himself and shows people it is torture, and he thinks it might not be a proper way to do the interrogations. In his article “Believe Me, It’s Torture,” Hitchens uses rhetorical critique tools like pathos, ethos, and logos to get his readers to believe that waterboarding is torture, and I believe his work successfully makes readers agree waterboarding is a way of torture.
In his article, Hitchens attempts to use ethos, which is his credibility, to reveal just why we should believe his argument. He elaborates that he has fears and phobias, which he later explains might cause him to be more affected by the method more than some other members of the Special Forces. He writes, “(I am 59.) ….15,000 cigarettes I had inhaled every year for the last several decades…If I don’t have at least two pillows I wake up with acid reflux and mild sleep apnea, so even a merely supine position makes me uneasy…I do have a fear of drowning that comes from a bad childhood moment…” This weakens his argument because he is trying to convey a message that waterboarding is torture but how can he say it is torture if he has all these fears? Not everyone has to share his specific worries. Also, members of the Special Forces are not usually of his age which might cause them to be able to handle more pain and suffering than he can. Hence, to them, it may not seem as much of torture as it is to Hitchens. Hitchens may have just suffered more thanks to his past array of experiences over his longer life. Thus, this proof of his credibility is weak from the start of his argument.
Aside from ethos, Hitchens also uses his pathos which is his appeal to emotion. He tries finding some common ground of emotion to make his audience move through his experience vicariously to agree with his side of the debate. He tries speaking to the audiences’ feelings by explaining what exactly he was feeling. This causes his audience to place themselves in his shoes and speculate how they might have felt in his situation. After the first time he was waterboarded he states,“An interval was ordered, and then I felt the mask come down again. Steeling myself to remember what it had been like last time, and to learn from the previous panic attack, I fought down the first, and some of the second, wave of nausea and terror but soon found that I was an abject prisoner of my gag reflex.” This place his reader in his exact mind. He conveys what he was thinking at the time which is emotionally appealing to us humans because when we make decisions, we often consider them emotionally as well as logically. The appeal to pathos is his most robust rhetorical device for his specific point. He mostly succeeds in connecting with his readers.
The final rhetorical device Hitchens utilizes is logos, which is providing concrete facts. He uses logos to describe the background of what waterboarding is used for which moves his audience to begin to consider the purpose of waterboarding itself. He mostly utilizes logos at the beginning of his article. He states, “It was inflicted, and endure, by those members of the Special Forces who underwent the advanced form of training known as sere . In these practices, brave men and women were introduced to the sorts of barbarism that they might expect to meet at the hands of a lawless foe who disregarded the Geneva Conventions. But it was something that Americans were being trained to resist, not inflict.” This fact is useful to his argument because it provides the information about why waterboarding exists. It’s also useful because he explains the purpose of waterboarding is to resist it not to inflict it. Americans must learn to inflict it which means that they could be using it for other purposes. It strengthens his argument because he proves there is only a need to resist it not to perfect it.
In conclusion, Hitchens does use all three rhetorical devices but mostly only needs to focus on one. He uses logic well as to provide necessary background, but he does not utilize much ethos which could strengthen his credibility instead of weakening it. Ethos could cause him to seem more believable if used more properly. Also, Pathos was utilized well. If he had focused more on his Pathos then he could have reached out to his audience on a more emotional, psychological level showing the effects of it more. Over all though his argument is strong, but his rhetorical devices could have been used better to strengthen his side of the debate.