Panetta: Debt Deal Trigger Puts America in Danger

$1T in Pentagon cuts 'completely unacceptable'

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 4, 2011 4:22 AM CDT

(Newser) – The Pentagon can't tighten its belt any further without putting America in danger, Leon Panetta warns. The defense secretary says major cuts beyond the $350 billion outlined in the debt ceiling deal are "completely unacceptable" and could do "real damage " to national security, the New York Times reports. The deal contains a "trigger mechanism" that will automatically cut $600 billion from the Pentagon's budget over the next decade if Congress can't agree on $1.5 trillion in cuts by November.

"If that happens, it could trigger a round of dangerous across-the-board defense cuts that would do real damage to our security, our troops and their families, and our ability to protect the nation," Panetta said in a message to Defense Department personnel. He warned that this was unacceptable "because we live in a world where terrorist networks threaten us daily, rogue nations seek to develop dangerous weapons, and rising powers watch to see if America will lose its edge."

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta waves as he leaves Baghdad last month.
US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta waves as he leaves Baghdad last month.   (AP Photo/Paul J. Richards, Pool)
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We've got to take care of our people. We've got to fund the fights that we're in. - Admiral Mike Mullen,
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

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