Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld says anybody demanding deadlines for progress in Iraq should "just back off," because it is too difficult to predict when Iraqis will be able to take control of their country.
During a Pentagon news conference Thursday, an often-combative Rumsfeld said that while benchmarks for security, political and economic progress are valuable, "it's difficult. We're looking out into the future. No one can predict the future with absolute certainty."
He said the goals have no specific deadlines or consequences if they are not met by specific dates.