Martha Raddatz Interviewed Leon Panetta -
Algeria - Panetta wouldn't speak to the motivation of kidnappers. "All I do know is that when you're dealing with affiliates of Al Qaeda- that they're terrorists and they will do terrorist acts. And that's what they've done here."
He added, "they have total disregard for- innocent men and women and children. And it's reflected in what they just did here in Algeria."
His comments came prior to reports that the Algerian Army had launched a military strike targeting the hostage takers that resulted in an undetermined number of fatalities among both hostages and hostage takers.
Panetta described information coming from Algeria as "pretty sketchy".
Syria - Panetta expressed the belief that Syria has not used chemical weapons against their citizens "as we would imagine chemical weapons being used in that kind of battle." He added, "we have not seen intelligence that they have deliberately used this against their own people."
In Thursday's interview Panetta provided the first confirmation that the Syrians had mixed chemical ingredients into shells or bombs that could be used against the Syrian people.
"Our biggest concern was the intelligence we received. That they were in fact putting together these ingredients into shells that could then be deployed against their own people. And that's when the president spoke out about it, expressed our concern and made very clear that that's a red line for us."
Read more from Luis Martinez - http://abcn.ws/Vagw18
Watch more on World News and on 'On the Radar', Martha's new digital ABC News/ Yahoo! News show. Debuts Friday morning.
Paul Ryan: GOP Mulling Short-Term Debt Limit Hike - As House Republicans gather at a private retreat in Williamsburg, Va., to plot a course to address the next string of fiscal deadlines facing Congress this spring, Rep. Paul Ryan, the former Republican nominee for vice president, told reporters today that conservatives could agree to a short-term increase to the debt limit. http://abcn.ws/W9mkme (John Parkinson)
Birthday Bangs for Michelle Obama - It's not hard news, but it's been getting a lot of attention - http://abcn.ws/13IcJcz (Mary Bruce)
Obama's Campaign Organization Turns to Gun Control - President Obama said Wednesday that his plan to curb gun violence would not come to fruition "unless the American people demand it." And today, he began mobilizing his still-active presidential campaign apparatus to do just that. http://abcn.ws/10hd9GY (Devin Dwyer)
"Who the hell needs armor-piercing bullets except you guys in battle?" - Panetta Defends Obama's Gun Control Package - Defense Secretary Leon Panetta fired off a strong defense of gun control legislation Thursday, in front of a decidedly skeptical audience. http://abcn.ws/Wa6itf
Will Obama's Gun Proposals 'Work'? - George Stephanopoulos takes viewer questions - http://abcn.ws/SR9gGo
From ABC / UNIVISION - Corporate America for Immigration Reform? From Emily DeRuy - Business leaders want to see broad immigration reform this year, and they pledged on Thursday to put serious money behind that effort. Carlos Gutierrez, a former commerce secretary under President George W. Bush, said that he's continuing to grow a Republican super PAC, which was first announced in November, designed to urge members of Congress to support immigration reform.
"We're going to do something we haven't done in the past," he said at a news conference. "We're going to put money behind the problem."
Gutierrez said the group is "getting paperwork together" right now, and that the goal of the super PAC will be to raise money to support immigration reform in critical districts. Per official rules, the super PAC won't be able to endorse specific people. http://abcn.ws/XeQpjP
Email Subject Line of the Day - URGENT: SATELLITE COORDINATES FOR POOL VIDEO OF SEN. NELSON PYTHON HUNT
Hilda Solis' Swan Song? Mine Safety http://abcn.ws/10i6JHA (McGuire)
Lincoln Bible Holds 'Electricity' of 2 Presidents - When President Obama is sworn in for a second term on Monday, he will use two historic bibles - one belonging to Martin Luther King Jr. and the other used by only one other president - Abraham Lincoln . http://abcn.ws/WjuKrW (Arlette Saenz)
Meet Two of Obama's Inaugural Citizen Co-Chairs - The Presidential Inaugural Committee has named eight Americans to serve as citizen co-chairs for the 2013 Inauguration. ABC News spoke with two of them: auto-industry worker Kenyetta Jones and LGBT military rights advocate David Hall. http://abcn.ws/13IpROQ (Sarah Parnass)
John Roberts and Barack Obama: 2 Ment, 4 Oaths of Office? - By next Monday afternoon, President Barack Obama and Chief Justice John Roberts will have recited the presidential oath of office together four times. http://abcn.ws/USP4PX (Ariane De Vogue)