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News Wrap: Panetta Warns More Budget Cuts Will Compromise U.S. Security

August 4, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT

HARI SREENIVASAN: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned today the nation’s security will be at risk if more spending cuts are made to the budget.

The debt ceiling deal passed by Congress earlier this week requires $350 billion in military spending cuts over the next 10 years, and it leaves room for another $500 billion in cuts if a special bipartisan congressional committee can’t come up with another solution in time.

In his first news conference as defense secretary, Panetta said that was a doomsday mechanism.

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LEON PANETTA: If it happened — and, God willing, that would be not the case — but if it did happen, it would result in a further round of very dangerous cuts across the board, defense cuts that I believe would do real damage to our security, our troops and their families, and our military’s ability to protect the nation.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Panetta cited a packed list of military missions, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, supporting NATO operations in Libya, and disaster assistance in Haiti and Japan.

The death toll in Syria’s crackdown on anti-government protesters climbed higher today. Activists reported more than 100 people were killed in the past 24 hours in Hama, the city at the heart of the latest assault.

We have a report narrated by Harry Smith of Independent Television News.

HARRY SMITH: Despite days of military operations by Syrian forces, these pictures suggest that the people of Hama are as rebellious as ever.

Reports which accompanied these postings on the Internet say people have been shot dead during demonstrations in Hama and other cities, including the capital, Damascus. In these pictures apparently showing the attack on Hama, gunfire can clearly be heard. Bullets striking the buildings can clearly be seen, but there’s no way of telling where the gunfire is coming from.

More pictures are emerging of tanks on the streets of Hama, firing into the heart of the city. Smoke can be seen billowing from streets nearby, and these scenes, a massive march at a funeral in a suburb of Damascus. What they’re chanting is, “The people want to topple the regime.”

HARI SREENIVASAN: The U.S. announced expanded sanctions against Syria today. The Treasury Department froze the U.S. assets of a family friend of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and banned Americans from doing business with his companies.

NATO officials announced the death of two service members in Afghanistan today. One was killed by a man wearing an Afghan police uniform, and another NATO soldier died after an insurgent attack in the east.

Rain from Tropical Storm Emily drenched the Caribbean today, but weakened to a low pressure trough as it moved toward the U.S. Heavy rains started falling in the Dominican Republic in the middle of the night. By morning, many roads were flooded and surf was high. The storm weakened over neighboring Haiti, but still dumped large amounts of rain.

Back in the U.S., the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration increased its hurricane outlook for the season, predicting seven to 10 hurricanes.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.