Former vice president Dick Cheney defended counterterrorism surveillance programs Sunday, but not the Obama administration that now supervises them.
Discussing surveillance of phone and Internet records, Cheney told Fox News Sunday that the spying programs have "saved lives and keep us free from other attacks."
Cheney also said President Obama has a hard time defending the programs because of questions surrounding the Internal Revenue Service and the Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya.
"He's got no credibility," Cheney said.
Obama and aides have also defended the surveillance programs operated by the National Security Agency, saying they include safeguards to protect civil liberties -- safeguards they say were not in place when Cheney and the George W. Bush administration supervised them.
"I came in with a healthy skepticism about these programs," Obama said earlier this month. "My team evaluated them. We scrubbed them thoroughly. We actually expanded some of the oversight, increased some of safeguards. But my assessment and my team's assessment was that they help us prevent terrorist attacks."
White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, speaking on CBS' Face The Nation, said Obama has made "fundamental changes" in these programs to balance national security and privacy. "We changed many things about how we oversee those programs," McDonough said, though he did not provide specifics.
In his Fox News interview, Cheney also criticized Edward Snowden, who has said he disclosed information about the NSA programs to the Guardian and Washington Post newspapers. Snowden is believed to be in hiding in Hong Kong.
"I think he's a traitor," Cheney said, and could be a spy for the Chinese. "I think he has committed crimes."
Not unlike Obama, Cheney said these programs require secrecy so that potential terrorists don't know what U.S. investigators are up to.
"Sooner or later, there's going to be another attack," Cheney said, one that could include biological agents or even a nuclear devices.
Over on CBS, McDonough would not comment on Snowden, noting he is the subject of a Justice Department investigation. But, citing Cheney's comments, McDonough did question the "hyperbole" surrounding the case.
David Jackson, USA TODAY