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Pentagon Report to Highlight Successes, Challenges in Iraq

Donald Rumsfeld, right gestures during news conference with Vice Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Peter Pace
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says a report on Iraq his department will publish Thursday will present what he considers positive developments in the country in recent months, but will also include the challenges that lie ahead.

Secretary Rumsfeld says the report will list a number of achievements in Iraq, including an increase in public support for the government and an increase in the number of new businesses being registered. He also says the report will say that terrorists have not derailed the political process, which calls for a constitutional referendum in October and elections for a legislative assembly in December.

But Secretary Rumsfeld says the report will also acknowledge that insurgents in Iraq continue to be a major challenge for the Iraqi government and the U.S.-led coalition.

"Though they've suffered numerous setbacks, terrorists in Iraq remain effective, adaptable and intent on carrying out attacks against Iraqi civilians and Iraqi officials," he said.

At a news conference Wednesday, Secretary Rumsfeld was challenged on why he referred to the insurgency as "effective."

"The word 'effective' leaped out of my mouth, I suppose, because of the lethality of some of the attacks," he said. "So, the lethality is there. Is it 'effective' in terms of what they're trying to achieve? No. They're angering people in that country because they realize that it's mindless carnage."

Secretary Rumsfeld said it is not difficult for insurgents to find enough support among some Iraqis to carry out attacks on civilians. But he said it is becoming increasingly clear to most Iraqis that the insurgents' goal is to create chaos, and possibly civil war, and to prevent the country from establishing a democracy.

"I think it'd be a mistake to suggest that this insurgency has the support of the people or that it's a movement that's popular," he added. "I mean, there's no Ho Chi Minh. There's no Mao Zedong. This is a foreigner, a Jordanian, who's in there organizing these attacks."

Mr. Rumsfeld also predicted that this week's murder of two Sunni members of the committee that is drafting Iraq's constitution will increase the Iraqi people's commitment to defeating the insurgency.

Secretary Rumsfeld also urged the committee drafting the constitution to provide for the involvement of Iraqi women in all aspects of society in what he called "a reasonable way." The document is due to be completed on August 15.