What Murdoch gave us all; hacking 9/11 victims

If true, this would be yet another example of the culture created by Rupert Murdoch. His legacy is some fine journalism and a whole heap of trash and bigotry. The International Herald Tribune reports:

Shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, relatives of some of the victims began suspecting that someone was eavesdropping on their telephones.

Some heard mysterious clicking sounds on their home and mobile phones. The fiancée of one man who died at the World Trade Center remembers listening to snippets of someone else’s conversation on her line. A husband of another victim recalls hearing somebody remotely accessing his home answering machine, which still held the final, reassuring message left by his wife shortly before the crash of Flight 93. Others say they are baffled as to how details about their loved ones appeared in British tabloids within days of the attacks.

Ten years later, their long-held suspicions aroused by The News of the World… phone-hacking scandal… in London, dozens of relatives of victims contacted the Justice Department. On Aug. 24, eight of them met with Attorney General… Eric H. Holder Jr.… and asked him to determine whether their privacy had been violated. As a first step, they asked him to see whether Scotland Yard had a record of their names or phone numbers among the material seized from a private investigator who hacked cellphone messages for the tabloid.

Four months later, they are still waiting to hear back and are frustrated by the Justice Department’s silence.

“It’s not that hard to find out — it’s quite a simple thing, really, isn’t it?” said Patricia Bingley, a British citizen whose son, Kevin Dennis, a 43-year-old trader at Cantor Fitzgerald, worked on the 101st floor of the World Trade Center’s north tower.

Ms. Bingley said she was stunned to see, in the Sept. 18, 2001, issue of The Sun, a photograph of her son reading a bedtime story to his two sons, which she did not give to the paper. The story also contained details about her son that she said no one from her family had provided to The Sun. “It never made sense to me,” she said, adding that she suspects hacking or worse by the paper. “I’d like very much for the government to tell us whether this happened or not. Celebrities seem to have no trouble finding out.”

In July, as revelations about widespread phone hacking by the tabloid were spilling out, another British newspaper, The Daily Mirror, reported that a private investigator said that News of the World reporters had offered to pay him to retrieve phone records of Sept. 11 victims. After the report, which was not confirmed by other news organizations, the Justice Department opened an investigation. To date, no evidence has emerged publicly that Sept. 11 victims were hacking targets.

Jodi Westbrook Flowers, a lawyer at a South Carolina firm that represents more than 6,700 relatives of Sept. 11 victims, said she and her colleagues had scoured the British tabloids and found scores of details about the victims. Relatives were not certain how the tabloids found out so much so quickly after the attacks.

One of the relatives, whom she declined to identify, said that five days after Sept. 11, The Sun published the words from a voice mail message left on his cellphone by his son, who was aboard one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center. (British authorities are also investigating whether hacking occurred at The Sun, which, like The News of the World, is owned by News Corporation.)

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