Thursday, July 9, 2009

UK Guardian Reports That Murdoch's Newspapers Have Thousands Of Illegal Wiretaps On Public Figures.

The UK Guardian is reporting that employees of Rupert Murdoch's newspaper NewsWorld have illegally tapped thousands of private telephones of public officials, sports figures, and others, in England, and have paid hush-money to try to cover up their crimes.

A smaller version of this story originally surfaced several years ago when it was discovered that some NewsWorld associates had hacked into phones of some staff of the Royal Family. At the time, several investigations were conducted but concluded that these were "Lone Hackers," that they had acted without the knowledge of anyone higher up at NewsWorld. NewsWorld denied any involvement. That was a lie.

In addition to illegally wiretapping the phones of public officials, the employees of Murdoch's news corporation were also hacking phones of sports figures and heads of sports organizations. A little gambling action on the side, perhaps? Talk about inside information -- knowing the state of mind of key players, or even details of strategy, could lead to a fortune in sports gambling. Or, of course, knowing what politicians intend to do could give someone the ability to make billions in advance by using insider information not available to others. Let's hope England digs a little deeper this time and gets not just a list of who was bugged, but also delves into the question of the purpose of the secret wiretaps. It was more likely done for financial gain, than just for gossip.

"Murdoch papers paid £1m to gag phone-hacking victims."

"Rupert Murdoch's News Group News­papers has paid out more than £1m to settle legal cases that threatened to reveal evidence of his journalists' repeated involvement in the use of criminal methods to get stories."

"The payments secured secrecy over out-of-court settlements in three cases that threatened to expose evidence of Murdoch journalists using private investigators who illegally hacked into the mobile phone messages of numerous public figures to gain unlawful access to personal data, including tax records, social security files, bank statements and itemised phone bills.

Cabinet ministers, actors and sports stars were all targets of the private investigators."

[The newly-discovered evidence] "may open the door to hundreds more legal actions by victims of News Group, the Murdoch company that publishes the News of the World and the Sun, as well as provoking police inquiries into reporters who were involved and the senior executives responsible for them. The evidence also poses difficult questions for"

• "Conservative leader David Cameron's director of communications, Andy Coulson, who was deputy editor and then editor of the News of the World when, the suppressed evidence shows, journalists for whom he was responsible were engaging in hundreds of apparently illegal acts.

• "Murdoch executives who, albeit in good faith, misled a parliamentary select committee, the Press Complaints Commission and the public."

• "The Metropolitan police, which did not alert all those whose phones were targeted, and the Crown Prosecution Service, which did not pursue all possible charges against News Group personnel."

• "The Press Complaints Commission, which claimed to have conducted an investigation, but failed to uncover any evidence of illegal activity."

"The suppressed legal cases are linked to the jailing in January 2007 of a News of the World reporter, Clive Goodman, for hacking into the mobile phones of three royal staff, an offence under the Regulation of Powers Act. At the time, News International said it knew of no other journalist who was involved in hacking phones and that Goodman had acted without their knowledge."

"But one senior source at the Met told the Guardian that during the Goodman inquiry, officers found evidence of News Group staff using private investigators who hacked into "thousands" of mobile phones. Another source with direct knowledge of the police findings put the figure at "two or three thousand" mobiles. They suggest that from all three parties and cabinet ministers, including former deputy prime minister John Prescott and former culture secretary Tessa Jowell, were among the targets."

".... "Several famous figures in football are among those whose messages were intercepted."

"The paperwork from the Information Commission revealed the names of 31 journalists working for the News of the World and the Sun, together with the details of government agencies, banks, phone companies and others who were conned into handing over confidential information."

[When sued in one case and presented with evidence of these crimes] "News International ... started offering huge cash payments to settle the case out of court, and finally paid out £700,000 in legal costs and damages on the condition that [the person who sued] signed a gagging clause to prevent him speaking about the case. The payment is believed to have included more than £400,000 in damages. News Group then persuaded the court to seal the file on Taylor's case to prevent all public access, even though it contained prima facie evidence of criminal activity."

"Former Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil described the story last night as 'one of the most significant media stories of modern times'. 'It suggests that rather than being a one-off journalist or rogue private investigator, it was systemic throughout the News of the World, and to a lesser extent the Sun,' he said. Particularly in the News of the World, this was a newsroom out of control." To which I would add: Well, yes. Rupert Murdoch's empire is a "newsroom" out of control. They lie, deceive, defraud, cover-up, conspire, promote fascism and hatred and racism and sexism and everything which is intended to destroy our democracy.

And now it turns out they wiretap sports figures and politicians, breaking the law, covering up their illegal activities, paying hush money to people to silence them, getting courts to "seal" files to keep the truth from the public. How about if our corrupt politicians get off their lazy asses and investigate this guy, break up his "Empire Of Evil," then deport him.

Was Murdoch illegally wiretapping Democrats, then turning that over to Bush-Cheney? We know Bush-Cheney was illegally wiretapping whoever they wanted, presumably for political purposes, and they got away with it because Congress refuses to hold them accountable, passed a special law to prohibit lawsuits against the telephone/utility companies which would have allowed discovery of the names of every person who was illegally wiretapped. Congress has acted to cover up this crime, prevent the public from finding out the truth, protect Bush-Cheney above all else. But why?

We know that Murdoch's Whorehouse at Fox was on the phone every morning with the propaganda wing of the white house dictating to them what story, what lies they should spread that day. Were they acting together -- Murdoch in the private sphere, Bush-Cheney using the offices of the government -- to get illegal wiretaps on every single Democrat in the country?

The most obvious benefit from wiretapping politicians and sports figures is the ability to use secret information for personal gain. If the politicians say they will vote for a new weapon, for example, buy stock in the weapon-maker's company before the public is told that the new weapon will be funded by the government. And of course knowing the inside details of sports players' physical and mental condition before games is an enormous boost in trying to figure out which team to bet on. Is it likely the Murdoch paper and its people risked being thrown in prison just to get some silly gossip about who was sleeping with whom? I'd look for money.

Should we expect an investigation, hearings, perhaps prosecutions in our country about whether Murdoch has been illegally wiretapping our Democratic politicians? How about the baseball players, football, basketball?

Our politicians, so many on the payroll of Murdoch, will probably do nothing, pretend this has nothing to do with us. Under the No Change administration of Obama, the public is entitled to know nothing, everything must be covered-up, information is even more secret and classified than it was under Bush-Cheney, and the looting of our country, and the wars of aggression, must continue unabated. So I would expect nothing.

Don't expect media coverage of this in the U.S. After all, Murdoch owns most of the media in the U.S., and he won't cover it. And "Our" Democratic Congress refuses to enforce the laws to bust up Murdoch's monopoly control of the media, order him to divest himself from this massive ownership of the media which makes our public more stupid and mean every day.

How many U.S. politicians were wiretapped in their home, office, cell phones, by Murdoch and by the criminal wiretapping program run by the Bush-Cheney administration. Is it likely Murdoch would do it in England but not in the U.S.?

Why is it AG Eric Holder refused to admit to Senator Feingold that the warrentless wiretapping program run by Bush-Cheney was illegal? Is it because too many Democrats are being blackmailed by information obtained by the right-wing by illegal wiretaps? Is this how the right-wing continues to control our country? Are they blackmailing every single Democrat in national government? Is that why the Democrats refused to prosecute the financial criminals from Wall Street, refuse to prosecute the Bush-Cheney insiders for international war crimes?

Or is this just wistful thinking? Is everything so desperate that I prefer to think "our" Democrats are victims of a heinous crime involving blackmail, rather than just seeing them as corrupt sleazy sell-outs?

UPDATE: London police announce they have completed their thorough investigation (in 7 hours time, total, surely a record) and concluded no further investigation is warranted. It must be nice to be rich. Keep those pesky old police from interfering with your campaign to destroy the world.

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