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Biden Swings Back at Cheney for War on Terror Criticism

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WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration has been stronger than the Bush administration in fighting terrorism, Vice President Biden said Sunday, suggesting former Vice President Dick Cheney, one of President Obama's chief critics, is either "misinformed or misinforming."

In an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," Biden said he thinks Cheney doesn't listen to the facts and is trying to rewrite history.

"I don't think the former vice president, Dick Cheney, listens. The president of the United States said in the State of the Union we're at war with Al Qaeda," Biden said. 

Biden said the Obama administration has eliminated 12 of the top 20 Al Qaeda leaders, has "taken out 100 of their associates, we have sent them underground ... they are on the run."

Calling Cheney "factually, substantively wrong," Biden said it's simply not true that the president is not prosecuting the war in Al Qaeda with a vigor never before seen.

"I don't know where Dick Cheney has been. Look, it's one thing again to criticize. It's another thing to sort of rewrite history. What is he talking about?" Biden said. 

Cheney said that the Obama administration is failing to treat the battle against terrorism as war. He told ABC's "This Week" that he is glad for what the administration is doing in Afghanistan but he disagrees with those in the Obama Cabinet who "still insist on thinking of terrorist attacks on the United States as criminal acts rather than acts of war, that's a huge distinction."

Cheney said he also disapproved of President Obama's initial response to the actions by Christmas bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

"It was closer to being an act of war than an act of an isolated criminal," Cheney said. "What the administration was slow to do was to come to the realization that this is an act of war."

But Biden said Cheney's criticism rings false. He added that two of three detainees tried in military courts were set free under the Bush administration, while more than 300 tried in federal courts are now in prison. 

"He is not entitled to his own facts," Biden said.

White House National Security Adviser Jim Jones refused to get into it over Cheney's criticism, telling CNN that national security isn't a partisan issue. He added that it depends on what information Cheney has. 

"If it's informed, that's one thing," he said. 

As for the war in Iraq, Biden said it hasn't been worth its "horrible price."

He said the war was mishandled from the outset and that the U.S. took its eye off the ball. As a result, the U.S. was left in a more dangerous position in Afghanistan, where Al Qaeda hatched the Sept 11 attacks, he said.

The war also has cost the United States support from other nations, he said, but he predicted Iraq will have successful parliamentary elections next month and the U.S. is likely to bring home some 90,000 combat troops by the end of the summer.

More than 4,370 U.S. military personnel have died in Iraq since former President George W. Bush ordered the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been wounded or killed.

But Cheney said, "I believe very deeply in the proposition that what we did in Iraq was the right thing to do . It ws hard to do, it took a long time to do.

"We're going to have a democracy in Iraq. We do today ... This is has been an enormous achievement for peace and stability in the Middle East and security for the United States. Joe Biden doesn't believe that," Cheney said.

Cheney said that if the Obama administration now wants to take credit for the success of Iraq, after opposing the surge, campaigning against it during the 2008 presidential race and finishing up a timetable set forth during the Bush administration, then "it ought to go with a healthy dose of 'Thank You, George Bush' up front."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.