The ordeal of the families of 9/11 victims never seems to end.
The virus of phone hacking, exposed in the investigation in London of Rupert Murdoch's newspapers, may have spread to the United States. Attorney General Eric Holder has scheduled a meeting with 9/11 family members to discuss whether or not this has happened.
A London tabloid, based on unnamed sources, reports that a former New York police officer says he was asked by journalists working for the Murdoch newspaper, News of the World, to retrieve phone records of Sept.11 victims in America. Allegedly, the investigator turned down the proposal.
News Corporation, the parent company of the now defunct News of the World, says: “We have not seen any evidence to suggest there was any hacking of 9/11 victims, nor has anybody corroborated what are clearly very serious allegations.” The corporation insisted it was nothing but “anonymous speculation, which has since mushroomed in the broader media with no substantiation.”
Norman Siegel says that Attorney General Holder has agreed to meet with 20 family members on August 24. He told me: “We’ll listen to what Mr. Holder has to say and make recommendations to the Justice Department for possible actions the government could take to investigate the story.”
Jim Riches, who lost his son, Jim, a Fire Department captain, in the north tower of the World Trade Center, told me the London report was “very troubling.” He added: “I hope we’ll get to the bottom of it at this meeting. If our phones have been hacked, it’s a violation of privacy and common decency. The survivors have had to cope with heartsickness and physical illness. I’ve had trouble breathing.”
Riches, a 30-year veteran of the department, retired as a deputy chief. Three surviving sons are fire fighters.
Did the sleazy phone hacking operation in London spread to New York? We have no definitive proof so far but the case of this Fire Department family suggests an apt metaphor: where there’s smoke there could be fire.