CIA Director Leon Panetta has disavowed his statement suggesting former Vice President Dick Cheney wants a terrorist attack against the United States.
"The director does not believe the former vice president wants an attack," CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said in a statement to CNN.
"He did not say that. He was simply expressing his profound disagreement with the assertion that President Obama's security policies have made our country less safe. Nor did he question anyone's motives."
The controversy erupted after The New Yorker this week published an interview with Panetta in which he said Cheney's recent criticism of Obama’s national security policy illustrates that the ex-vice president "smells some blood in the water on the national security issue."
Panetta said in the magazine, "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."
Cheney responded Monday by saying "I hope my old friend Leon was misquoted. The important thing is whether or not the Obama administration will continue the policies that have kept us safe for the last eight years."
Vice President Joe Biden disagreed with Panetta's comments Sunday, telling NBC "I don't question (Cheney's) motive."
Cheney’s criticism may be influencing Obama’s policy.
For example, the president now opposes the release of photographs showing alleged abuse by U.S. soldiers of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s a reversal of Obama’s initial position.
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