McCain demands Panetta retract comments about Cheney

CIA Director Leon Panetta should immediately retract comments he made to the New Yorker magazine suggesting former Vice President Cheney is wishing for another terrorist attack on the U.S., Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) demanded Monday.

"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," the former Republican presidential candidate said during an appearance on Fox News. "It's unfair, and I think that Mr. Panetta should retract, and retract immediately."

Panetta suggested Cheney would like to see America attacked again to vindicate his beliefs that the Obama administration has made the country less safe.

"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," Panetta told the New Yorker in a piece published this week. "I think that's dangerous politics."

McCain said the remarks crossed a line, and said Panetta "knows better" than to level such a charge against Cheney.

The Arizona Republican also took a shot at Panetta's leadership as CIA director before moving onto the next topic in the interview.

"By the way, I hear morale is not at an all-time high over at the CIA under Mr. Panetta's leadership," McCain said.

Update, 12:11 p.m.: Media Matters Action emailed to pass along their "fact check" blog reacting to McCain's comments. MMA points out that a McCain adviser had speculated that a terrorist attack would help the Republican's presidential campaign, and that McCain had said that a video message by Osama bin Laden would be a boon to then-President Bush.