The Defense Secretary: Leon Panetta

Leon Panetta has both balanced the budget and eliminated Osama bin Laden. Now as secretary of defense, he's fighting multiple wars, pursuing al Qaeda, and trying to keep Iran from building an atom bomb.

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Pelley: What is it?

Panetta: If they proceed and we get intelligence that they're proceeding with developing a nuclear weapon then we will take whatever steps are necessary to stop it.

Pelley: Including military steps?

Panetta: There are no options that are off the table.

We were surprised to hear how far he thinks Iran has come.

Panetta: The consensus is that, if they decided to do it, it would probably take them about a year to be able to produce a bomb and then possibly another one to two years in order to put it on a deliverable vehicle of some sort in order to deliver that weapon.

Of course, Panetta knows more than he tells. Maybe he knows who's bombing Iranian scientists, why Iran's missile facility mysteriously blew up or how a computer virus wrecked Iran's uranium enrichment plant. Judging from the U.S. spy drone that fell in Iran, America and its allies are waging war without sending thousands of troops.

The doomsday plane is laden with secret gear, we can't show you most of it. It's so heavy the Air Force refueled it twice in the night sky over the Atlantic. It turns out the lightest thing on board was the heart of the man with a world of worry.

Pelley: How do you launch the nuclear response from this airplane? You pick up this phone?

Panetta: Don't touch anything Scott. (laugh)

Leon Panetta is rarely far from an eyelid collapsing, ground shaking, belly laugh. It's involuntary and to people around him its reassuring that, with lives at stake, he stays in touch with his humanity and where he came from.

Leon Panetta lives on the farm where he grew up. He and his brother planted these walnut trees, 65 years ago, with their father, and the Panetta's stick to their roots in northern California. He and his wife Sylvia raised three boys here; one of whom served in Afghanistan. Panetta's parents had arrived here from Italy without a word of English.

Pelley: Did you pick the walnuts?

Panetta: Used to pick 'em all the time. My dad used to have a pole and hook, and shake every one of these branches, and hit the walnuts. And my brother and I used to be underneath collecting the walnuts, putting 'em in sacks. And, you know, my dad often said I was well-trained to go to Washington because I'd been dodging these nuts all my life.

His mother wanted a pianist. But Panetta orchestrated a run for Congress and, for 16 years, represented his home district. He became President Clinton's budget director and worked with Congress to balance the federal budget for the only time in the last 42 years.

Pelley: A lot of people were surprised when your name came up for director of Central Intelligence.

Panetta: I was kind of surprised, as well. I spent most of my life working on budget issues and thought that you know, that would more likely be an area that they might want me. But the president said, "I need somebody who can restore the credibility of the CIA." And for me, that represented a challenge.

The first challenge, ordered by the president, was to rethink the search for Osama bin Laden. There hadn't been a good lead since the U.S. lost him in 2001 in the mountains of Tora Bora, Afghanistan. Within a year and a half of Panetta taking over as director of Central Intelligence, the U.S. tracked al Qaeda couriers to a house in a town callled Abbottabad, deep inside Pakistan. Panetta sent satellites, drones, officers and spies to watch it for eight months, but they were never sure that bin Laden was there.