US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld argued today that the guerrillas fighting US-led foreign forces and the American-backed government in Iraq do not deserve to be called an "insurgency."
Asked at a Pentagon news conference why he did not think the word insurgency applied to enemy forces in Iraq, Rumsfeld said he had "an epiphany."
"I've thought about it. And, over the weekend, I thought to myself, you know, that gives them a greater legitimacy than they seem to merit," Mr Rumsfeld said.
Mr Rumsfeld instead referred to the guerrillas in Iraq as "the terrorists" and "the enemies of the government."
US military statements also have referred to insurgents as "anti-Iraqi forces."
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines an insurgent as "a person who revolts against civil authority or an established government."
It is not the first time Mr Rumsfeld has quibbled with words describing the enemy in Iraq.
In June 2003, for example, Mr Rumsfeld said the conflict was not a "guerrilla war," only to have his top commander in the region two weeks later call it "a classical guerrilla-type campaign."
"I think that you can have a legitimate insurgency in a country that has popular support and has a cohesiveness and has a legitimate gripe. These people don't have a legitimate gripe," Mr Rumsfeld said.
"They've got a peaceful way to change that government - through the constitution, through the elections. These people aren't trying to promote something other than disorder and to take over that country and turn it into a caliphate and then spread it around the world."