First off a couple of fun videos to remind us all what happened in the last two weeks - the second thanks to Kenbee's diary
Where We are Now
Things have quietened down a bit on the Murdoch News International scandal after yesterday's recall of Parliament, and a prolonged debate; there are still many unanswered questions over here - as Ericlewis0 diaried so well yesterday- but partly for the sake of the rest of my life, and also so the home base of Rupert and James and Newscorp is prioritised on this site - I'm not going to chronicle that: but instead focus on a breaking Guardian Story: US senator invokes website-hacking trial in call for Murdoch inquiry
The story involves a trial from 2 years ago:
The 2009 trial of Floorgraphics versus News Corp was invoked on Wednesday by Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey senator who has called for an official inquiry into News Corporation behaviour in the US. He has written to the attorney general Eric Holder, asking him to take into account evidence thrown up during the trial that News America had engaged in computer hacking and to incorporate it as part of the ongoing justice department and FBI investigation into News Corporation practices.
The Floorgraphics case, also recalled this week by the New York Times, is being seen as revealing the lengths to which Murdoch's American companies are capable of going in attempting to neutralise competition. When the startup decided to stand firm in the face of News America's alleged threat to destroy them, the Rebh brothers claim they experienced at first hand the empire's competitive instinct at its most intense.
Lautenberg Highlights Additional News Corp. Hacking Allegation in the U.S. as DOJ Review Begins
Lautenberg Flagged News Corp. Hacking Allegations with Federal Authorities in 2005
Lautenberg Press Office, 202-224-3224
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
WASHINGTON—As the Justice Department reviews claims that News Corp. hacked into the phone records or voicemails of American 9/11 victims, U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) today wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller to highlight a 2005 hacking allegation in the United States that was made against a News Corp. marketing company called News America Marketing.
Lautenberg originally wrote a letter in 2005 bringing this case to the attention of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales after a small New Jersey marketing company called FLOORgraphics alleged that News America Marketing engaged in illegal computer espionage by breaking into password protected computer systems and obtaining confidential information.
“As the Department of Justice and FBI examine the recent hacking allegations involving News Corp. and its subsidiaries more closely, I wanted to make sure that you were fully aware of the case of FLOORgraphics and News America, as it may be relevant to your current investigation,” Lautenberg wrote.
A copy of today’s letter can be found here and the text is copied below.
July 20, 2011
The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20530
Director Robert S. Mueller, III
Federal Bureau of Investigation
J. Edgar Hoover Building
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW,
Washington, DC 20535
Dear Attorney General Holder and Director Mueller:
I understand from reports that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has begun a preliminary review into allegations that News Corporation (News Corp.) may have sought to illegally access phone records or hack into the voicemails of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack.
In connection with the FBI’s review of News Corp.’s conduct, I wanted to bring to your attention the attached letter that I wrote to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in June 2005 regarding another incident involving News Corp. and allegations of illegal conduct. Specifically, FLOORgraphics, Inc. (FLOORgraphics), a corporate constituent of mine based in Princeton, New Jersey, provided in-store advertising on behalf of manufacturers of major food, health, and household items selling products in grocery stores throughout the country. One of FLOORgraphics’s competitors in this business was News America Marketing (News America), which is owned by News Corp.
At the time of my letter in 2005, I was informed by FLOORgraphics that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service initiated an investigation into allegations that News America illegally gained access to FLOORgraphics’s password-protected computer system and obtained FLOORgraphics’s confidential data. In response to my letter, the Department of Justice informed me that, as a matter of policy, it was not in a position to confirm or deny the existence of an investigation into News America’s conduct, but that the Department of Justice took all allegations of criminal conduct very seriously.
As the Department of Justice and FBI examine the recent hacking allegations involving News Corp. and its subsidiaries more closely, I wanted to make sure that you were fully aware of the case of FLOORgraphics and News America, as it may be relevant to your current investigation. Please do not hesitate to contact me for any further information my office may be able to provide about FLOORgraphics’s allegations, as appropriate.
Thank you for your attention to this matter and I look forward to your timely reply.
News Corp paid out to settle two more linked lawsuits alleging other illegal business practices alongside the computer hacking claims.
Total payments were over $500m.
News America Marketing might be a low-profile arm of Murdoch's corporation, but it is likely that these massive payments were discussed at board level.
As with all the activities of Newscorp subsidiaries, nefarious practices are likely to be rife. Rupert Murdoch, though avowing competitive free market rhetoric, has always behaved like a monopolist, uncompetitive, gaming legislation through the threat of withdrawing editorial support from his many media outlets (Fox New, New York Post and the Wall Street Journal for example).
Murdoch has been effectively neutralised in the UK. Whatever the criminal or legislative outcomes of the many police and parliamentary inquiries launched in the last two weeks, he is now toxic to most politicians, and his bid to take over BSkyB (and have a monopoly of our broadcasting as well as newspapers) now looks dead in the water. Murdoch ruled not through respect or love, but fear. And after his stumbling appearance before the select committee on Wednesday, we know the truth: the fear has gone. His power is evaporating.
I'm off to Bosnia next week and probably won't be able to keep up on all the stories - but there are many stellar bloggers here who can keep up the heat on the DOJ/FBI investigations, and push harder on the SEC angle on News Corps activity. So follow Ceebs, Ericwis0, AnnetteK, Jimstaro, Newscorpse, The Anomaly, Kenbee, Empower Ink etc. (Sorry if I've missed anyone).
Things to look for.
1/ Any confirmation of a coverup or bribing of police officers by James or Rupert Murdoch could make them liable to arrest under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
2. There's a probability that Murdoch's British papers hacked the phones of people in the US (see the Jude Law testimony). These could include 9/11 victims.
3. As we know, Fox New's Brain Room has been alleged to use the same 'dark arts' of illegal intercepts, computer and phone hacking. Has Roger Ailes Hacked American Phones for Fox News?
Former Fox News executive Dan Cooper has claimed that a special bunker, requiring security clearance for access was created at the company's headquarters to conduct “counterintelligence” including snooping on phone records:
All the newspapers in the 140 paper network have shared in the editorial process and the contagion of criminal content of the toxic tabloids could spread.
4. There's a wealth of information about News America:
I have to thank fellow Kossack Dweb8231 for some great investigative work here as he/she has dug deeper into lawsuits against News America, their bullying tactics, and the nightmare for a whistleblower when dealing with their non-disclosure agreements.
If anything happens over the weekend relevant to the US, I'll diary or update. In the week that follows, good luck in a transatlantic fightback against this global monopolistic enterprise.