Full Transcript: Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta Sits Down With Martha Raddatz

VIDEO: Secretary of Defense speaks with ABC News Martha Raddatz.

MARTHA RADDATZ: Thanks for joining us, Mr. Secretary, and talking to us today. I -- I want to start with Algeria. And some of the statements you've made make it look like you are -- the U.S. is weighing options on what to do with that hostage situation.

SECRETARY PANETTA: Well, there's no question that -- when this kind of terrorist act takes place -- and it involves -- hostages -- some of whom -- are American -- that's a serious matter. And -- United States -- takes that -- very seriously -- when -- our citizens -- are put in jeopardy -- by terrorists. So for that reason -- w -- we're looking at the situation -- very closely to determine exactly what happened, exactly -- what the situation is there on the ground. And -- then -- you can be assured that -- we're looking at -- all of the necessary steps -- that -- that we need to take in order to deal with that situation.

MARTHA RADDATZ: And what kind of things are you looking at?

SECRETARY PANETTA: Well, I -- you know, I -- I'm not gonna go into particulars here. But -- obviously we're gonna -- look at -- at what the situation is -- how best to address it -- how can we -- bring our -- our military assets to bear in order to deal with it and h -- and also basically talk with the other countries that are involved here. There are a number of other countries that are in the same situation with these individuals. How can we -- how can we address that as -- that situation together?

MARTHA RADDATZ: What is the latest you know about what's going on there right now, where the hostages are, the -- the Algerians have surrounded the place, what the hostage takers are doing or saying?

SECRETARY PANETTA: Yeah, I mean, I -- you know, frankly -- the information's pretty sketchy. We don't -- you know -- this is -- an area that's -- in a pretty remote area of Algeria. And -- we know it involves a BP installation -- and the people that work there. But -- beyond that -- you know, just how many hostages are being held, where they're being held -- you know, the individuals -- that are involved here, I mean, that -- that's the kind of -- information we're hoping to get more of so that we can better assess just exactly what is the situation on the ground and therefore what do we -- what do we need to do in order to address it.

MARTHA RADDATZ: And you said possibly as many as 100 hostages?

SECRETARY PANETTA: Well, there -- there were -- I think about 100 people that were involved -- in the -- the facility there. How many of them are actually being held hostage we just don't know.

MARTHA RADDATZ: And perhaps seven, eight Americans?

SECRETARY PANETTA: That -- the first estimates -- indicate that -- somewhere in that vicinity might be -- you know, those that are being held. But again I just want to -- want to make clear that -- the information we're getting is very sketchy. And -- right now we just really don't know -- how many are being held.

MARTHA RADDATZ: But -- but do you believe they're being held by Al Qaeda affiliated militants?

SECRETARY PANETTA: I don't think there's any question that -- based on what we do know that this was -- a terrorist act and -- that the terrorists -- have affiliation with Al Qaeda.

MARTAH RADDATZ: And do you believe this has something to do with Mali and the action -- the French led action that's taking place in Mali?

Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...