Fresh From The CIA, Panetta Lands In Afghanistan

Jul 9, 2011

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is in Afghanistan Saturday, his first visit to that country since assuming the position. Panetta's view of the war in Afghanistan may be colored by his experience as director of the CIA and the successful raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

Panetta takes the reins at the Pentagon riding high. He oversaw the CIA and is credited for helping the agency track down bin Laden. On the flight to Kabul, Panetta told reporters that he believes al-Qaida and its affiliates are on their heels.

"I was convinced in my prior capacity, and I am convinced in this capacity, that we are in reach of strategically defeating al-Qaida," Panetta said.

In the wake of the bin Laden raid, he said, the U.S. has identified between 10 and 20 key al-Qaida leaders in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

Defense officials have said the number of al-Qaida in Afghanistan is down to less than a hundred.

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