Congressmen call for News Corp. hacking investigation

A stack of last edition of News of the World is placed at a newspaper vendor in central London, Sunday, July 10, 2011. Britain's best-selling Sunday tabloid signed off with a simple front page message, "THANK YOU & GOODBYE", leaving the media establishment here reeling from the expanding phone-hacking scandal that brought down the muckraking newspaper after 168 years.
AP Photo/Sang Tan
In this photo illustration, various front pages of London newspapers report on the closing of the national tabloid newspaper 'News of The World' on July 8, 2011 in London, England.
Photo Illustration by Stewart Stanley/Getty Images

A handful of lawmakers today joined calls for investigations into whether Rupert Murdoch's media conglomerate News Corporation violated U.S. law by allegedly obtaining phone records illegally.

Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer and Jay Rockefeller sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro, asking them to investigate News Corp., which is incorporated in the U.S. Sen. Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg sent a separate letter to Holder and Schapiro with the same request.

Republican Rep. Peter King, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, sent a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller demanding an investigation.

"The reported allegations against News Corporation are very serious, indicate a pattern of illegal activity, and involve thousands of potential victims," Boxer and Rockefeller wrote. "It is important to ensure that no United States laws were broken and no United States citizens were victimized."

Reports allege that News Corp. employees may have illegally accessed the phone records of 9/11 victims. Police in the U.K. are already investigating allegations that employees at News of the World -- the now-closed newspaper that belonged to a News Corp. subsidiary -- bribed London police officers for information, including private telephone information. The U.K. charges, the senators said, may violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits corrupt payments intended to influence any act or decision of a foreign official.

"The limited information already reported in this case raises serious questions about the legality of the conduct of News Corporation and its subsidiaries under the FCPA," Lautenberg wrote. "Further investigation may reveal that current reports only scratch the surface of the problem at News Corporation."

Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, said earlier that "the consequences will be severe" if any 9/11 victims or other Americans were hacked.

King expressed similar sentiments in his letter.

"The 9/11 families have suffered egregiously, but unfortunately they remain vulnerable against such unjustifiable parasitic strains," he wrote. "We can spare no effort or expense in continuing our support for them."