The chairman of a powerful Senate committee said Tuesday he fears the phone-hacking scandal engulfing Britain may have crossed the Atlantic into the United States and urged federal law-enforcement agencies to launch an investigation.
Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.), whose Commerce Committee oversees telecommunications and media issues that affect Rupert Murdoch’s empire, left open the possibility that his panel would also investigate, but he wants federal agencies such as the FBI to take the lead.
"The reported hacking by News Corporation newspapers against a range of individuals—including children—is offensive and a serious breach of journalistic ethics,” Rockefeller said in a statement. “This raises serious questions about whether the company has broken U.S. law, and I encourage the appropriate agencies to investigate to ensure that Americans have not had their privacy violated. I am concerned that the admitted phone hacking in London by the News Corp. may have extended to 9/11 victims or other Americans. If they did, the consequences will be severe."
Senior law-enforcement officials have told The Daily Beast that the FBI is unaware of any information that warrants a federal inquiry.
If that changes, or if Rockefeller’s committee begins its own probe, it would leave Murdoch fighting a two-front war as British investigations examine the allegations that led him to close the News of the World tabloid on Sunday.