– Leon Panetta said on his first visit to Iraq as Defense Secretary that Iraqi security forces need to do more to curtail attacks on U.S. troops there and that the U.S. will not “walk away” from the challenge of Iran’s stepped-up arming of Iraqi insurgents who are attacking American soldiers. Meanwhile, another U.S. soldier was killed in southern Iraq on Sunday.
– Iraqi leaders are finding it increasingly unlikely that a decision on a continued U.S. military presence beyond 2011 will be decided before the end of the year scheduled withdrawal according to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s media advisor.
– A secret Democratic Senate budget resolution, drafted by Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) includes cuts to the Pentagon’s budget totaling over $800 billion over ten years, dramatically surpassing the cuts proposed by both the House and the White House.
– President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser John Brennen met with embattled Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Salah and told him he needs to “fulfill expeditiously” his promise to resign.
– A new report from the Government Accountability Office has found that “a four-year-old Pentagon effort to improve psychological health services across the military is spending tens of millions…without providing a clear picture of how the money is used.”
– The French defense minister urged Libyan rebels to open up talks with embattled dictator Muammar Qaddafi despite protestations from the rebels and the U.S. that Qaddafi must leave power before negotiations.
– The Washington Post reports that “a series of U.S. and international sanctions imposed over the past year have slowly undermined Iran’s ability to conduct trade by targeting the country’s access to international banking, insurers and transportation companies.”