Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday promised 9/11 families a preliminary criminal investigation into a report of possible phone hacking involving the Rupert Murdoch media empire.
Following a meeting at the Justice Department that lasted over an hour, the family members and their lawyer said they were pleased that the attorney general made the commitment for a preliminary probe into whether the Sept. 11 victims or their families were the targets of phone hacking by journalists at Murdoch's now-shuttered News of the World.
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 United States might have been subject to phone hacking rests on a single, thinly sourced news story in the Daily Mirror, a London tabloid rival to Murdoch's The Sun.
According to a London tabloid's story based on unnamed sources, a former New York police officer who became a private investigator said he rejected requests by journalists from Murdoch's News of the World to retrieve private phone records of Sept. 11 victims.
The U.S.-based parent company for Murdoch's News Corp. has called the report "anonymous speculation" with "no substantiation."