The inquiry was prompted in part by a letter from Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York, to Robert S. Mueller III, the F.B.I. director, in which he asked that the bureau immediately open an investigation of News Corporation, citing media reports that journalists working for its subsidiary, The News of the World, tried to obtain the phone records of 9/11 victims through bribery and unauthorized wiretapping, the people said.That follows similar calls from Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) among others.
The decision to open a case in New York stemmed from the mushrooming hacking scandal that has wracked Britain for days, ever since The News of the World admitted that it had illegally intercepted the voice mail of Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old girl abducted and murdered in 2002. It also follows a decision by the News Corporation chairman, Rupert Murdoch, to withdraw from the biggest media takeover bid in British history.
The investigation was expected to be handled jointly by two F.B.I. squads in the bureau’s New York office, one that investigates cybercrimes and another that focuses on public corruption and white collar crimes, one of the people said. They all spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case.
The British Daily Mail had alleged that the News of the World attempted to access the voice mails of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks or other Americans but thus far the Guardian has been unable to verify that report. With the FBI entering into the fray, this matter is going to come to a head.
If the FBI finds that one of News Corporation's outfits engaged in this kind of action, the gig will be up for the company and puts everyone associated with those media outlets in jeopardy - particularly editors and reporters who used that information or knew or had reason to know how such information was obtained, or condoned those kinds of activities.