Holder to meet with 9/11 families

Aug 24, 2011 Issues: -

Politico – by Jennifer Epstein

Attorney General Eric Holder is set to meet Wednesday afternoon with the families of several victims of the Sept. 11 attacks to update them on his investigation into whether their relatives’ phones were hacked by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

Holder said earlier this month he is taking the families’ concerns “seriously” as the FBI probes allegations that Murdoch’s employees tried to collect information from victims’ phone accounts, as they did from British royals, politicians, celebrities and murder victims.

As the News of the World hacking scandal erupted last month — forcing Murdoch to close that paper and entangling the media titan and some of his top executives — a rival paper reported that the tabloid had asked a New York private investigator to collect information from phone accounts belonging to victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks. Though the investigator said he had refused the job, victims’ families are nonetheless concerned that another investigator or News Corp. employee didn’t.

Norman Siegel, a lawyer representing victims’ families, told Fox News Wednesday that the phone hacking claim is “merely an allegation at this point. We hope it’s not true.”

Siegel also said the families will ask Holder to investigate the possibility of computer hacking at the closed-door meeting as well, Fox News reported.

Siegel said relatives will provide old phone numbers and other data to the Department of Justice at the meeting, and he added that he expects the government to contact cell phone carriers to assist with the investigation.

The lawyer told FOX that there is one 9/11 family member who is particularly concerned about the possibility that “certain personal information about their son that potentially only could have been ascertained through some hacking” was published.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), who called for an investigation after phone hacking allegations emerged, told POLITICO in a statement, “I am confident that the FBI will do what has to be done.”

Siegel said in July that his “clients are troubled about the allegation of potential hacking, and they are particularly upset that there now exists an allegation that a newspaper would seek to illegally obtain information about their loved ones.”

Holder accepted the meeting with Siegel’s clients because he “certainly want[s] to hear what they have to say with regard to their concerns and, to the extent that I can share information with them, I will,” he said.

The FBI has said that its investigation is still ongoing.

Retired New York firefighter Jim Riches, whose firefighter son died at the World Trade Center, said in July that he planned to be at the meeting because “we want to find out if anyone’s phones were hacked, the progress of the investigation and what they intend to do if they find somebody accountable.”