9/11 Phone Hacking Still Not Substantiated

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Photo: Jason DeCrow/AP2007

During last summer's avalanche of News Corp. phone-hacking allegations, a former New York City cop claimed he was approached by Rupert Murdoch's News of the World tabloid and asked to access the phones of September 11 victims and their families. Relatives of those who died in the attacks, long suspicious that their phones had been compromised in the wake of the tragedy, asked Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate, primarily by comparing their names and numbers to evidence held by Scotland Yard. That was in August, but today, they still have no answers.

"It's not that hard to find out — it's quite a simple thing, really, isn't it?" said one woman, who claims details about her dead son ended up in the Murdoch tabloid The Sun. "It never made sense to me," she said. "I'd like very much for the government to tell us whether this happened or not. Celebrities seem to have no trouble finding out."

Although no evidence has shown any phone hacking in the United States, more than six families of 9/11 victims tell the New York Times that something fishy was going on with their phones.

Jack Grandcolas, whose wife, Lauren Grandcolas, was aboard Flight 93, which crashed in Shanksville, Pa., said that one night several months after her death, his home telephone rang and he listened as the answering machine played previously recorded messages, apparently through a password-enabled command. “It was as if the phone had been accessed by someone,” he said.

Others described clicking noises and chattering voices. "If there was no hacking, it is wildly coincidental that so many people describe similar experiences," said a lawyer for some 9/11 victims' relatives, who is frustrated by the government's progress on the hacking case. "We asked a simple threshold question, and we basically received a nonanswer," she said.

Two anonymous Justice Department officials told the Times that they do not expect evidence to prove the 9/11 hackings, but an official spokeswoman says, "It's an ongoing investigation."