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Democrats on Monday seized on former CIA Director Michael Hayden's characterization of Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein as "emotional,” saying the comments were sexist and an unfair attack on the senator.
"Former CIA Director Hayden's baseless smear of Chairman Feinstein is beyond the pale. I highly doubt he would call a male chairman too 'emotional' and to do so with Chairman Feinstein is unacceptable," Sen. Mark Udall said in a statement.
Hayden suggested on Sunday that Feinstein may have orchestrated a “scathing” Senate Intelligence Committee report critical of the CIA because of her personal opposition to the agency’s interrogation techniques.
“The motivation for the report may show deep emotional feeling on the part of (Sen. Dianne Feinstein), but I don’t think it leads you to an objective report,” Hayden said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Hayden acknowledged he had not seen the report, only that it had been “widely leaked.”
"This woman has been an outstanding leader of that Intelligence Committee. She has been fearless. She has been thorough and fair,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday. “And for this man to say that because she criticizes tactics led by Gen. Hayden that was torture, she is being too emotional?"
The report, which examines CIA interrogation techniques under President George W. Bush, focuses on incidents that took place before Hayden took over the CIA in 2006.
Feinstein said the report was “objective” and “based on fact.”
Last week the intelligence committee voted 11-3 to declassify key portions of the report.
NBC's Andrew Rafferty contributed to this report.