"I hope my old friend Leon was misquoted," Cheney said in a statement released to CBS News. "The important thing is whether the Obama administration will continue the policies that have kept us safe for the last eight years."
Panetta is quoted in the story saying he thinks Cheney "smells some blood in the water on the national-security issue." He suggests Cheney's criticisms of President Obama reflect "gallows" and "dangerous" politics.
The former vice president has been among the harshest critics of Mr. Obama's policies, particularly on harsh interrogations of terrorism suspects and the closure of the Guantanimo Bay prison facility, and has suggested that the administration's decisions are making "the American people less safe."
Asked about Panetta's comments at the White House briefing today, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said he is "not going to get into motivations."
"The president's concern is keeping the American people safe," he said. "We've had policy disagreements, but I think what is true for anybody is doing what's -- doing what we need to to keep the American people safe and secure. That's what the President is working on every day."
Asked on "Meet The Press" about the comment yesterday, Vice President Joe Biden said he believes "Dick Cheney's judgment about how to secure America is faulty."
"I think our judgment is correct," Biden added.
Arizona Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, is calling on Panetta to immediately retract the comments, as The Hill reports.
"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 told Fox News. "It's unfair, and I think that Mr. Panetta should retract, and retract immediately."
McCain also took a shot at the CIA director, saying, "I hear morale is not at an all-time high over at the CIA under Mr. Panetta's leadership."