Former CIA Director Michael Hayden charged Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein with getting too “emotional” over the Senate’s report on Bush-era enhanced interrogation techniques, compromising the objectivity of the investigation as a result.
Pointing to Feinstein’s reasoning that the report should be made public to “ensure that an un-American, brutal program of detention and interrogation will never again be considered or permitted,” Hayden, who led the CIA and NSA under former President George W. Bush, told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace, “Now that sentence that the motivation for the report may show deep emotional feeling on the part of the Senator. But I don’t think it leads you to an objective report.”
Wallace countered, “Forgive me because you and I both know Senator Feinstein. I have the highest regard for her. You’re saying you think she was emotional in these conclusions?”
Hayden – who didn’t use the word to describe any of the men on the Senate committee – said only that the leaked portions of the report don’t tell the full story.
Feinstein responded in a statement Sunday, saying her committee’s report is “objective, based on fact, thoroughly footnoted, and I am certain it will stand on its own merits.”
She pointed to the committee’s 11-3 vote to declassify parts of the report as a bipartisan agreement to let the public “see the facts and reach their own conclusions about the program.”
“The only direction I gave staff was to let the facts speak for themselves,” Feinstein said.
The use of the word “emotional” to describe women in power can be a lightening rod for criticism. When the law firm commissioned by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie released its report on his administration’s decision to close lanes along the George Washington Bridge last September, analysts seized on the brief’s description of former Christie Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly as “emotional” and the depiction of her as a woman scorned after a personal relationship with her predecessor, Bill Stepien, ended. Neither Kelly nor Stepien was interviewed for the report.
“Name it. Change it,” a project by the Women’s Media Group, has written about the inherent sexism and misogyny in using the word “emotional” to describe women in politics.
“An emotional speech is commendable. An emotional woman is not,” the organization wrote in 2012. “Labeling [New Mexico Governor Susana] Martinez ‘emotional’ suggests her inherent weakness got in the way of the job she was there to do.”
The CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee have been going head-to-head over the report, which the Senate says will show that the CIA misled the American public and government officials over the effectiveness of enhanced interrogation techniques, or torture, during the Bush administration. The Intelligence Committee charged the CIA with spying on staffers during the investigation, while the CIA says the Senate accessed classified documents without authorization.