Vice Presidents Face Off: Dick Cheney and Joe Biden Go on the Offensive

Cheney and Biden don't agree on much, except on how wrong the other one is.

ByABC News via logo
February 15, 2010, 7:27 AM

Feb. 15, 2010— -- The war of words between Dick Cheney and the Obama administration escalated as the White House dispatched Vice President Joe Biden to counter criticism by the former vice president.

Biden and former vice president Cheney don't agree on much, except on how wrong each believes the other one is when it comes to running the country. The two squared off in Sunday morning talk shows, with Biden making an appearance on both CBS and NBC in response to Cheney's exclusive ABC "This Week" interview.

The two leaders clashed on a host of issues, including the likelihood of another terrorist attack on U.S. soil on the scale of 9/11.

Cheney on "This Week" took a stab at the Obama administration's handling of the war on terror and its national security policies.

"It's the mind-set that concerns me," Cheney said of President Obama's handling of national security, including the decision to try 9/11 suspects in civilian courts rather than military tribunals.

Biden, who once called Cheney the most dangerous vice president in history, said the United States is unlikely to face another 9/11 type of attack.

"I always underestimate the way Dick Cheney approaches things," Biden said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "The reason it's unlikely is because we have been relentless, absolutely relentless in isolating al Qaeda, central al Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, al Qaeda coming out of the Afghan-Pakistan region."

Cheney called that notion "dead wrong."

"I think, in fact, the situation with respect to al Qaeda to say that, you know, that was a big attack we had on 9/11, but it's not likely again, I just think that's dead wrong," the former VP said on "This Week. "I think the biggest strategic threat the United States faces today is the possibility of another 9/11 with a nuclear weapon or a biological agent of some kind, and I think al Qaeda is out there even as we meet trying to figure out how to do that."

He said that kind of attitude makes America vulnerable.

"You don't want the vice president of the United States running around saying, 'Oh, it's not likely to happen,'" he said.

Cheney strongly defended waterboarding, the enhanced interrogation technique assailed by Obama and what many consider to be torture.

"I was a big supporter of waterboarding. I was a big supporter of the enhanced interrogation techniques," he said.

Cheney added that he opposed the current administration's move to do away with it.

"That's Dick Cheney. Thank God the last administration didn't listen to him at the end," Biden countered. "I think his fight seems to be with the last administration. We did exactly what President Bush did. We got the similar result. We are protecting America. And I don't know, it seems like Dick Cheney can't take yes for an answer."

Waterboarding is a controversial interrogation technique that was used by CIA officials on terror suspects. Its proponents, including Cheney, say waterboarding helped yield valuable information. Opponents, including Obama, said it's a form of torture. Waterboarding was phased out during the end of the Bush administration, but Obama officially banned it at the onset of his administration.