Former CIA, NSA Boss Says Senator Feinstein Is Too Emotional To Judge CIA Torture Fairly

from the shameful dept

We've written about former NSA and CIA boss Michael Hayden plenty of times around here, and the guy is practically a caricature of what you'd expect him to be. He defends the intelligence community at all costs, and is quick with baseless insults to anyone who disagrees with him, and also (laughably) seems ill-prepared to be a fortune teller. We've also written about California Senator, and head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, many times as well -- often watching her make similarly ridiculous claims in defense of the intelligence committee. However, as we've seen over the last few months, the one place where she seems to draw the line is with the CIA and its torture program. Feinstein, normally a staunch defender of the intelligence community, has been battling the CIA over the release of the $40 million, 6,300 page report that shows that the CIA's torture program (which she still refuses to call "torture") went way beyond what was authorized, produced no useful intelligence and resulted in the CIA lying to Congress about the program.

Since the two are normally in lock-step on various issues, it's interesting to see what happens when they differ. On Fox News over the weekend, Chris Wallace asked Hayden about the report, and Hayden pretty explicitly tossed out the ridiculous misogynistic argument that Feinstein was, effectively, too emotional to judge whether the report should be released. While he didn't make that claim exactly, he came about as close as possible to saying it without saying it:

WALLACE: But the report says that more prisoners were abused than we had previously known and that the enhanced interrogation produced little intelligence of significance.

HAYDEN: Yes. I read an article by David Ignatius earlier this week. And he said --

WALLACE: He's a columnist for The Washington Post.

HAYDEN: Right. He said that 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, Chris, may show deep emotional feeling on part of the senator. But I don't think it leads you to an objective report.

WALLACE: I mean, 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: What I'm saying is -- first of all, Chris, you're asking me about a report. I have no idea of its content. No one responsible for that report has spoken a word of this to me, to George Tenet, to Porter Goss, to anyone else that is involved in these events. But it's very hard for me to make a judgment.

Of course, as Amy Davidson at the New Yorker notes, while the Ignatius report does suggest this as potential motivation for Feinstein, it's actually taking a Feinstein quote completely out of context. Rather than it being the motivating factor in creating the report, it was actually Feinstein's response to reading the completed report and arguing that its key findings should be made public. That is, rather than being emotionally motivated to create the report (as Hayden falsely claims), Feinstein realized that the report was so damning that it needed to be made public to stop future CIA torture and abuse.

And, really, can anyone explain what's wrong with suggesting that preventing an "un-American, brutal" torture program from happening again would be a beneficial result? Is Hayden honestly arguing that the US should continue with un-American torture efforts?

Either way, the choice of words by Hayden is deliberate and obnoxious. He's suggesting that a female Senator might be too emotionally driven and fragile to understand the "realities" of war, where people like him -- people who apparently sold out their morals long ago -- make important decisions like when and how to violate the Geneva conventions, torture people and to then lie to Congress about it. Call me crazy, but when it comes to stopping a "brutal" and "un-American" program of torturing people in violation of international law, a little emotion might be a good thing.

Filed Under: cia, dianne feinstein, emotions, michael hayden, senate, senate report, torture, torture report


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  1. icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 7 Apr 2014 @ 9:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sexist!

    That's hilarious! It's right up there with accusing people who point out racist-sounding statements as being racist themselves. Keep it up.

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