Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. has promised 9/11 families a preliminary criminal investigation into a report of possible phone hacking involving the Rupert Murdoch media empire.
After a meeting at the Justice Department that lasted more than an hour Wednesday, the family members and their lawyer said they were pleased that Holder made the commitment for a preliminary probe into whether the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks or their families were the targets of phone hacking by journalists at News of the World, Murdoch's now-defunct London tabloid.
The lawyer for the families, Norman Siegel, told reporters that the attorney general had used the words "very disturbing" to describe the possibility that phones of 9/11 victims and their family members might have been hacked.
The suggestion that Sept. 11 victim families in the U.S. were subject to phone hacking rests on a single, thinly sourced news story in the Daily Mirror, a London tabloid rival to Murdoch's Sun.
According to a story based on unnamed sources, a former New York police officer who became a private investigator said he rejected requests by journalists from News of the World to retrieve private phone records of Sept. 11 victims. News Corp., the New York-based parent company of Murdoch's media empire, has called the report "anonymous speculation" with "no substantiation."
Associated Press, August 24, 2011, 4:23 p.m.