I was taken aback by your account of my testimony at a Labor and Human Resources Committee hearing on genetic discrimination and medical privacy issues in your Nov. 10 Outliers column ("D.C. confidential," p. 128).
Specifically, you criticized me for announcing the name of my constituent when you quoted my written testimony as saying that my constituent "asked (me) to keep her identity confidential in order to protect her daughters." The statement you quoted did not appear in either my written statement, which is public record, or my verbal statement. My constituent, who is an outspoken breast cancer advocate, gave me explicit permission in advance to use her name and story at the hearing.
It is extremely disappointing that you fictionalized my testimony and demeaned my constituent's personal experience in order to serve your own ends. To paraphrase the item's concluding line, maybe any journalist who criticizes written testimony should read the testimony first.
Sen. Olympia J. Snowe
Editor's note: We did not quote the senator's written testimony on this point. We quoted -- as we said -- a written version of the story. That came in a press release issued by the senator's own office on the day of the hearing. The following sentences appear in the news release: "I want to have the BRCA test (for breast cancer) done but because of the insurance risk for my daughters I don't dare," the woman wrote in a letter to Snowe. She asked Snowe to keep her identity confidential in order to protect her daughters.
The press release does not name the woman, and it goes on to refer to the "constituent's case." If the senator's constituent wanted her name used, the message apparently did not reach the senator's press staff.