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

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

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