Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday strongly defended the recently exposed U.S. surveillance programs, which he helped craft in the aftermath of 9/11, but sharply criticized President Obama for his handling of a range of issues from the Syrian civil war to the Benghazi terror attacks.

Cheney, a Republican vice president from 2001 to 2009 under the Bush administration, told “Fox News Sunday” the National Security Agency-led programs have to remain confidential to keep the information from enemies and that he and other U.S. intelligence officials were concerned about a nuclear attack.

“It was 19 guys with box cutters and airplane tickets,” but the next time it could have been a “nuclear attack,” the 72-year-old Cheney said.