Rumsfeld: Iraq's Terrorists Not Worthy of 'Insurgent' Label
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 2005 "Insurgents" just seems like too positive a word to describe terrorists in Iraq and implies a level of legitimacy they don't have and don't deserve, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told Pentagon reporters Nov. 29.
The secretary mused during a Pentagon news briefing about terms that might be more appropriate: "terrorists" and "enemies of the government" among them.
"We frequently call them insurgents, (but) I'm a little reluctant to, for some reason," Rumsfeld said. "They don't have broad support in that country. ... They're against a legitimate government. ... There are also growing divisions among the enemies of the government."
Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, slipped later during the briefing and used the "i" word. "I have to use the word 'insurgent,' because I can't think of a better word right now," he said with a smile.
"Enemies of the legitimate Iraq government," Rumsfeld responded, drawing laughter from reporters. "How's that?"
Jesting aside, both Rumsfeld and Pace affirmed that the enemy threat in Iraq is no laughing matter.
But Rumsfeld said he believes divisions are popping up within the terrorists groups in Iraq and that they're continuing to lose popular support. He predicted that Iraq's upcoming Dec. 15 elections will take more wind out of the terrorists' sails.
"When the Iraqi people have their own constitution, that they wrote, that they voted for, and then they elect people under that constitution, it becomes increasingly clear that anyone going around killing the Iraqi people (is) fighting against a legitimate government," the secretary said.
"They are against a legitimate constitution, (and) they will be against people who have been legitimately elected under the Iraqi constitution," he said.
Once Iraq's new democratic government stands up, "any contention that there's some sort of an occupation taking place or that coalition forces are there at anything other than the invitation of the government and the United Nations becomes a weaker argument," Rumsfeld said.
Success in fighting terrorism is critical to U.S. security, he said.
"Let's be clear," Rumsfeld emphasized. "U.S. forces are in Iraq to help the Iraqis fight the terrorists there, so we don't have to fight them here in the United States."