In the last several years, whenever a group or person in Iraq has issued a statement, there is often a phrase I’ve heard on TV and radio, and read in newspaper articles, in magazines and online news sites that accompanies it. Sometimes it comes from reporters and other times from officials.

This claim has yet to be independently verified.

Who is it exactly who verifies terrorist claims in Iraq? A person, persons, a group or groups? How ‘independent’ is this verification? What method or methods are used to verify these claims? Are they graphological? Do they trace I.P. addresses? Do they evaluate the language that is used? Do they use sources to track who is saying what? Are different methods used in different situations?

We’ve all heard this phrase but has it ever been explained? I think it hasn’t. It almost reads as a caveat, as if to say, “We’re treating a rumor like news but by phrasing it like this it’s somehow less like InTouch.” When you hear it, it has the feel of authority. “Don’t worry, someone somewhere somehow will make sure this is true.” But who exactly? And where, when and how will they do so? So far as I can tell? No one, nowhere, never and not.