Updated 5:51 p.m.
Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) accused former CIA director Michael Hayden Monday of a sexist attack on Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and her oversight of an investigation into the CIA's interrogation policies.
Hayden suggested Sunday that Feinstein might have compromised the objectivity of a report on CIA interrogation techniques because she personally wants to change them. He suggested Feinstein feels too strongly about the issue on an "emotional" level.
In response, Udall said Monday that "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."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has also weighed in, noting Hayden served in a Republican administration.
"This woman has been an outstanding leader of that Intelligence Committee," Reid said. "She has been fearless, she has been thorough and fair. And for this man to say that because she criticizes tactics led by General 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?”
Feinstein declined Monday to say whether she believed Hayden's comments were sexist.
"I have one word: Nonsense," she said. "I have no doubt that there are very powerful people who don't want this report out. But what was said is just absolute nonsense."
When asked again about Hayden's comments she said: "I said what I said. Absolute nonsense."
Udall in his statement added that the Intelligence Committee's years-long investigation into the interrogation program "is based on an exhaustive and years-long review of millions of internal CIA and other records. The fact that former Director Hayden questions the objectivity of the committee's study at the same time that he freely admits that he hasn't read it demonstrates particular gall, in my view. 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."
Last week the intelligence panel voted to declassify an executive summary of the roughly 6,000-page committee investigation. Release of the summary will come after it has been reviewed by the White House and the CIA.
Udall has been a forceful advocate for releasing the committee's report and a vocal critic of the CIA's use of enhanced interrogation techniques. And he was the first to reveal last December that the CIA conducted an internal review of the interrogation program, a revelation that apparently angered top agency officials.
(Aaron Blake contributed to this post.)