Leading US Democrats have sharply criticised a former CIA chief for suggesting that a Senate panel's disputed torture report was motivated by the "emotional feeling" of the senator who chairs the committee, not by a desire for objectivity.
The Senate intelligence committee's report examines the CIA's detention and interrogation programme after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
In an appearance on Fox News over the weekend, Michael Hayden, who was then-president George W. Bush's CIA director from 2006 to 2009, questioned the motivations of committee chairman Senator Dianne Feinstein.
Hayden said the motivation behind the still-classified, 6,300-page investigation "may show deep emotional feeling on the part of the senator, but I don't think it leads you to an objective report".
On Monday, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid called Hayden's comments condescending and claimed they were representative of a broader Republican hostility towards women.
"Does this sound like a person or party that respects women?" Reid said. Of Feinstein, he said: "She has been fearless. She has been thorough and fair ... She's being too emotional? I don't think so."
Senator Mark Udall, a Democrat who serves with Feinstein on the intelligence committee, called the reference to her emotions a "baseless smear" that Hayden wouldn't make against a man.
The report was produced exclusively by Democratic staff. It concludes, among other things, that the introduction of water-boarding and other "enhanced interrogation techniques" provided no key evidence in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, according to congressional aides and outside experts familiar with the document.
The report is also said to accuse the agency of misleading Bush and Congress about the successes of the programme. The CIA disputes many of the findings.
Feinstein and other committee members voted 11-3 last week to declassify about 500 pages of the report. The CIA is reviewing those sections.