Hay Bright challenges Snowe vote, contradictory comments on Hayden
May 24, 2006
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jean Hay Bright Thursday criticized Sen. Olympia Snowe's support of Gen. Michael Hayden's confirmation as the new CIA director, calling it "another example of the Senator Snowe's tendency to say one thing but do another."

Snowe, who is on the Senate Intelligence Committee, voted with her fellow Republicans and several Democrats Wednesday to move Hayden's nomination to the Senate floor for a confirmation vote.

In published reports, however, Snowe denied that her vote to confirm Gen. Hayden constituted an endorsement of the secret wiretapping of American citizens that were conducted while he was in charge of the National Security Agency.

An Associated Press report quoted Sen. Snowe as saying after the vote: "Many questions still remain concerning NSA programs conducted during Gen. Hayden's tenure, and my decision to support his confirmation is not a vote of confidence in the propriety or efficacy of these programs."

"If Olympia Snowe lacked confidence in the legality or effectiveness of the secret wiretapping of American citizens by the NSA under Gen. Hayden's watch, she should have voted against his confirmation," Hay Bright said. "Instead, in the tradition of George Bush, she votes one way, then issues a verbal 'signing statement,' telling us that her official vote doesn't mean what it, in fact, does mean."

Hay Bright pointed to the contrast of Snowe's statement with that of Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., one of three committee members to vote against Hayden's confirmation.

"Our country needs a CIA director who is committed to fighting terrorism aggressively without breaking the law or infringing on the rights of Americans," Feingold said. "Gen. Hayden's role in implementing and publicly defending the warrant-less surveillance program does not give me confidence that he is capable of fulfilling this important responsibility."

Hay Bright also pointed out that Snowe's purported concern over the "propriety or efficacy" of the wiretaps is itself contradicted by the DeWine/Snowe bill working its way through the Senate. That bill would make those warrant-less wiretaps legal retroactively, in effect pardoning the President for violating the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) law. In addition it would set up a Congressional oversight committee with no power to subpoena, regulate, or control the scope of that program.

Editorials in both the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times have criticized Snowe by name for her authorship of that bill.