Former Vice President Dick Cheney is accusing the Obama administration of a protracted "cover-up" over its response to last year's terrorist attacks in Benghazi, and says "they lied" about what happened during the attacks to protect "the false image of competence that was the basis" of President Obama's re-election campaign.
Cheney, the controversial political figure who faced plenty criticism of his own during his tenure in the White House, called the Benghazi attack "one of the worst incidents, frankly, that I can recall in my career."
"Well they lied," Cheney accused during an interview on Fox News Monday. "They tried to cover it up by constructing a false story, claiming there was confusion about what had happened in the Benghazi compound. There was no confusion."
Mr. Obama on Monday dismissed the accusation that his administration had propagated some sort of effort to mislead the American public, noting that it would have been "odd" to then release information calling the September 11 attacks in Benghazi terrorist-driven.
"If this was some effort on our part to try to downplay what had happened... that would be a pretty odd thing that three days later ended up putting out all the information that now serves as the basis for everybody recognizing this was a terrorist attack," Mr. Obama said. "Who executes some sort of cover-up or effort to tamp things down for three days? The whole thing defies logic."
"There's no there, there," he added.
Cheney argued, in contrast, that the president was trying to protect his re-election prospects and shield himself from criticism over a general lack of U.S. readiness to deal with terrorism.
"If they'd told the truth about Benghazi, that it was a terrorist attack by an al Qaeda-affiliated group, it would have destroyed the false image of competence that was the basis of his campaign for re-election," he said. "The administration either had no forces ready to respond to an attack, which should have been anticipated on the anniversary of 9/11, or they refused to deploy them when our people asked for help," Cheney said.