WASHINGTON – Dick Cheney said he hoped CIA Director Leon Panetta didn't mean to tell The New Yorker magazine that the former vice president secretly hoped terrorists would attack the U.S.
"I hope my old friend Leon was misquoted," Cheney wrote in a statement to FOX News. "The important thing is whether the Obama administration will continue the policies that have kept us safe for the past eight years."
Panetta told The New Yorker for an article in its June 22 issue that Cheney "smells some blood in the water" on the issue of national security and the Obama administration's approach to terrorism almost suggests "he's wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point."
Cheney has said in several interviews that he thinks Obama is making the U.S. less safe. He has been critical of Obama for ordering the closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, halting enhanced interrogations of suspected terrorists and reversing other Bush administration initiatives he says helped to prevent attacks on the U.S.
Last month the former vice president offered a withering critique of Obama's policies and a defense of the Bush administration on the same day that Obama made a major speech about national security.
Panetta said of Cheney's remarks: "It's almost, a little bit, gallows politics. When you read behind it, it's almost as if he's wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point. I think that's dangerous politics."
Asked if he agreed with Panetta, Vice President Joe Biden told NBC's "Meet the Press" that he wouldn't question the motive behind Cheney's criticism.
"I think Dick Cheney's judgment about how to secure America is faulty," Biden said. "I think our judgment is correct."
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Former Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain told Fox News on Monday that Panetta should retract his statement.
"I disagreed with the Cheney policy on interrogation techniques, but never did it cross my mind that Dick Cheney would ever want an attack on the United States of America," McCain said.