A rather provocative statement. New Defense Secretary Panetta: We have al Qaeda 'on the run' - CNN.com Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- The United States "is within reach of strategically defeating al Qaeda," newly appointed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Saturday. "I think we have them on the run. I think now is the moment, now is the moment following what happened with bin Laden to put maximum pressure on them because I do believe that if we continue this effect that we really can cripple al Qaeda as a threat to this country," Panetta said. He made these assertions to reporters on Saturday before he landed in Afghanistan, where he met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Gen. David Petraeus, currently head of the NATO International Security Assistance Force and U.S. forces in Afghanistan.