Rupert Murdoch and the 9/11 Victims

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Everyone needs to slow down with these allegations that Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World hacked into the phones of 9/11 victims.

On Wednesday, New York Republican Pete King sent a letter to FBI chief Robert Mueller “to urge that the FBI immediately commence an investigation of News Corporation pertaining to recent media reports” of the alleged hacking. On Tuesday, West Virginia Democrat Jay Rockefeller called on “the appropriate agencies to investigate to ensure that Americans have not had their privacy violated”. Other elected officials are piling on by the minute and the Center for American Progress is too.

What, exactly, is the basis for all this outrage? The entire 9/11 hacking story comes from one piece in Monday’s Daily Mirror. Says the Mirror:

A former New York cop made the 9/11 hacking claim. He alleged he was contacted by News of the World journalists who said they would pay him to retrieve the private phone records of the dead….

A source said: “This investigator is used by a lot of journalists in America and he recently told me that he was asked to hack into the 9/11 victims’ private phone data. He said that the journalists asked him to access records showing the calls that had been made to and from the mobile phones belonging to the victims and their ­relatives.

“His presumption was that they wanted the information so they could hack into the ­relevant voicemails, just like it has been shown they have done in the UK. The PI said he had to turn the job down. He knew how insensitive such research would be, and how bad it would look.”

OK, let’s go over this. The Hon. Peter King wants the FBI immediately to investigate the fact that an unidentified private investigator supposedly told an unidentified source who in turn supposedly told a reporter for the Daily Mirror that the private investigator was once asked by a News Of The World reporter to get call records of 9/11 victims and that the private investigator didn’t do it but he presumed that the News Of The World wanted those records so that they could hack into their voicemail.

Yeah, Director Mueller, get right on that. I’m not saying we won’t eventually find out that some reporter paid by NewsCorp has done something unethical on this side of the Atlantic at some point in the past; maybe it will even involve 9/11 somehow. What I am saying is that as it stands the 9/11 hacking story is thinly sourced, to put it mildly.

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