Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev, dismissed comments from former Central Intelligence Agency Chief Michael Hayden calling Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., “emotional” regarding a panel report on CIA interrogation.
“This woman has been an outstanding leader of that Intelligence Committee,” Reid said in response to the comments on the Senate floor. “She has been fearless, she has been thorough and fair. And for this man to say that because she criticizes tactics led by Gen. Hayden that was torture she’s being too emotional. I don’t think so. Does this sound like a person or a party that respects women? I don’t think so.”
Reid’s comments were prompted by Hayden’s interview on Fox News Sunday when the issue of a classified committee report on CIA interrogation was discussed. According to stories on its content, the report says that more prisoners were abused than previously known and that the enhanced interrogation produced little intelligence of significance.
When asked about the report Hayden cited a Washington Post article that, according to Hayden, said “Senator Feinstein wanted a report so scathing that it would ensure that an un-American brutal program of detention interrogation would never again be considered or permitted.”
“Now, that sentence, that motivation for the report…may show deep emotional feeling on part of the senator,” Hayden said. “But I don’t think it leads you to an objective report.”
He also said that information gleaned for interrogations may have helped ultimately find Osama Bin Laden.
Former CIA “Director Panetta when asked by the Congress to comment on did the interrogation program help with getting us to Abbottabad said very clearly that that information was part of the information, part of the intelligence stream that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden at Abbottabad,” Hayden added. “Director Panetta went on to say, and we’ll never know whether or not we may have gotten that information through another way. But did he not deny that information from this program helped pinpoint bin Laden.”
The Intelligence Committee last week voted 11 to 3 to declassify portions of the report. The White House has directed the CIA to review the report and a spokesman has said that President Obama supports its release.
Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., a member of the Intelligence Committee, also had strong words for Hayden.
“Former CIA Director Hayden’s baseless smear of Chairman Feinstein is beyond the pale,” Udall said in a release. “I highly doubt he would call a male chairman too ‘emotional’ and to do so with Chairman Feinstein is unacceptable.”
He went on to defend the committee’s report, calling it deliberative and exhaustive.
“Let’s declassify the Senate Intelligence Committee’s study, set the record straight once and for all, and have a long overdue public debate about the CIA’s torture program and how to ensure that it never happens again,” Udall said.
A senior administration official said Monday that the White House wants the report declassified as soon as possible but would not put a timetable on that.