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."