– Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has warned recently that more military spending cuts would be “devastating” to the military. But when the nation faced record debts in the 1990s, then-Congressman Panetta sang a different tune. “I think the most dangerous threat to our national security right now is debt, very heavy debt, that we confront in this country,” he told military leaders in 1992. “I don’t question anything you’re saying in terms of the role that this country ought to perform. My problem is how the hell are we going to pay for it?”
– The Central Intelligence Agency tightened its rules on the use of drones, giving in to U.S. military and State Department demands that drone strikes be more selective after U.S. officials complained drone strikes were damaging relations with Pakistan.
– The Obama administration has backed away from its threats to sanction the Iranian central bank — Bank Markazi — in response to the alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., having decided that such harsh sanctions could disrupt oil markets and hurt American and world economies.
– Syrian security forces fired live ammunition to disperse thousands of protesters who had gathered to test the regime’s commitment to an Arab League peace plan that required a cessation of violence against protesters.
– Maj. Gen. Peter Fuller, a deputy commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, said his local counterparts in the Afghan army are “isolated from reality” because they don’t understand the U.S.’s economic woes and therefore “don’t understand the sacrifices that America is making to provide for their security.”
– A U.S. soldier died on a combat mission in northern Iraq, becoming the 4,484th service member to lose his life in less-violent but still deadly war. The U.S. withdrawal by the end of the year could face increased attacks, some officials said.
– Deputy commanding general U.S. forces in Iraq Major General Thomas Spoehr said the “vast majority” of American troops remaining will be out by mid-December.
– Fiery anti-American cleric Muqtada al Sadr said in an interview that the U.S. was not fully leaving Iraq because of the large diplomatic presence that will be left behind. “The American occupation will stay in Iraq under different names,” he said. He also denounced the U.S. regional military build-up as occupying “other Islamic countries.”