'This Week' Transcript: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta

They are now trying to charge $5,000 per truck. We already give them – the U.S. taxpayer already gives the Pakistanis billions of dollars a year. And now they're trying to charge $5,000 per truck. How high are you willing to go in this negotiation? Are you willing to pay more than $1,000 a truck?

PANETTA: We're going to pay a fair price. We're not going to -

TAPPER: What's that, a few hundred dollars per truck?

PANETTA: We're going to pay a fair price. They're negotiating what that price ought to be. You know, clearly we don't (inaudible) we're not about to get gouged in the price. We want a fair price.

TAPPER: Let's move to Yemen right now. We saw this past week a suicide bombing that killed 100 soldiers. The Al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen has attempted at least twice to bring down a U.S. plane. You've said Al Qaeda in Yemen poses the greatest threat to the United States. But you've also said you will not send American troops into the country.

If this is the biggest threat to the U.S., why would we not try to play a bigger role?

PANETTA: Well, our whole effort there is aimed at going after those terrorists who threaten to attack our country.

We've been successful. We've gone after a number of key targets there. We'll continue to do that.

TAPPER: But I think, I think the question is whether or not the smaller counterterrorism is - approach to this is enough. What we're seeing in Yemen seems to be a possible nightmare scenario of a terrorist state. Let me just show you a map.


TAPPER: Our Martha Raddatz was there earlier this week, helped us put together this map. The portion shaded in red are territory in which Al Qaeda has a strong and significant presence. As you can see, that's most of the country, and they're starting to hold those territories. I know I'm not telling you anything you don't know, but can we really fight them without boots on the ground there?

PANETTA: The answer is yes, because very frankly, what we're targeting, the operations we're conducting, require the kind of capabilities that don't necessarily involve boots on the ground, but require the kind of capabilities that target those that we're after who are threats to the United States.

That's what this mission is about.

TAPPER: President Obama recently said that -- recently told John Brennan, his counterterrorism adviser at the White House that he wanted a little bit more transparency when it comes to drones, which are the - is one of the approaches that you're alluding to in Yemen.

And "The Times of London" reported last week that the civilian casualties in Yemen as a result of drone strikes have, quote, "emboldened Al Qaeda."

Is there not a serious risk that this approach to counterterrorism, because of its imprecision, because of its civilian casualties, is creating more enemy than it is killing?

PANETTA: First and foremost, I think this is one of the most precise weapons that we have in our arsenal. Number two, what is our responsibility here? Our responsibility is to defend and protect the United States of America.

And using the operations that we have, using the systems that we have, using the weapons that we have, is absolutely essential to our ability to defend Americans. That's what counts, and that's what we're doing.

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