Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Why An Investigation Into Hacking By News Corporation Employees In The U.S. Matters

The NY Post used one teacher who forged jury duty notes to take time off with pay as a reason for why New York State must pass stringent teacher evaluations based upon test scores and value-added measurements:

New York City teachers don’t need meaningful proficiency re-evaluations?

Meet Mona Lisa Tello, an about-to-be-former 13-year bilingual-science teacher at the High School of Graphic Communication Arts in Hells Kitchen who was busted this week on three felony counts of forgery.

It seems that Tello faked a jury-duty letter to get paid time off from work.

But the real problem isn’t just that Tello — who, like all teachers, gets multiple mini-vacations every year, plus three months off in the summer — tried to steal even more paid time off.

It’s that such a stunningly stupid, barely literate woman was teaching in the first place.

Certainly it was easy to prove her letter was forged: It was riddled with spelling mistakes.


Tello received tenure in 2003, meaning that for nearly a decade, her students — in a bilingual program, yet — were being educated by someone who seemingly can’t write coherently herself.

How many other Mona Lisa Tellos are in the school system — maybe not so greedy, but scarcely able to spell their own names?

United Federation of Teachers President Mike Mulgrew doesn’t want you to know.

And that’s why he and his union are fighting real teacher evaluation.

It’s just that simple.

Using this logic of the Post editors, if one tenured teacher has forged notes with spelling errors in them, then ALL New York City teachers must be suspect for being crooked, greedy, and barely literate or proficient at their jobs too.

This is interesting logic, because the New York Post is owned by Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation, a conglomerate currently undergoing an intense investigation into criminal practices in Great Britain involving phone hacking, computer hacking, tampering of evidence in a criminal case, bribery, extortion and criminal conspiracy and cover-up.

The case has seen 17 current or former News Corporation employees arrested for various crimes, including the former chief executive of News International, Rebekah Brooks,
on phone hacking and bribery charges.

A former executive chairman of News International and the former editor of the Wall Street Journal, Les Hinton, has resigned from his post as chief executive of Dow Jones as fall-out from the scandal. Hinton has been Rupert Murdoch's right hand man for many years.

Hinton has not been arrested in the case yet, though the official inquiry into the scandal has been targeting Hinton for actions taken once the extent of the phone hacking was known by News International brass.

Also, former News of the World editor and communications director to British Prime Minister David Cameron, Andy Coulson, has been arrested on allegations of corruption and conspiring to intercept communications.

Coulson is currently suing News International to get them to continue paying his legal expenses in the case.

News International had been paying the legal expenses of former employees in the case until concern was raised that this constituted a potential cover-up strategy.

The latest arrest came last week when Brooks' former personal assistant, Cheryl Carter, was taken into custody on suspicion of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Carter is expected to give evidence that police are looking to use against her former bosses:

LONDON — Scotland Yard’s arrest of a former personal assistant to Rebekah Brooks, a former chief executive of the British newspaper arm of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, appears to reflect the investigators’ intensifying focus on the possibility of a cover-up by executives, editors and others of the extent of illegal phone hacking and other criminal wrongdoing at the The News of the World, which is now defunct.


Ms. Carter’s arrest drew attention for several reasons, including a Scotland Yard statement that said that she had been questioned on suspicion of trying to pervert the course of justice, a line of inquiry that has not been specified in police statements on most of the other arrests in Operation Weeting.

In addition, Ms. Carter appeared to have had a close personal and professional relationship with Ms. Brooks, the most senior executive in the Murdoch hierarchy to have been arrested in the affair. Former News of the World employees who spoke on condition of anonymity said Ms. Carter had worked as a personal assistant to Ms. Brooks for 19 years, starting when Ms. Brooks was deputy editor of The Sun, another Murdoch-owned tabloid in London, and continuing as Ms. Brooks became editor of the The News of the World, editor of The Sun, and later chief executive of News International, overseeing all of the Murdoch titles in Britain.

James Murdoch, Rupert's son, is on the hot seat as well for statements made before a Parliamentary committee about payouts to phone hacking victims that former News International employees say were lies.

So let's sum it all up - we have Rupert Murdoch's son James, Rupert's former right hand man Les Hinton, his former "imposter daughter" Rebekah Brooks, and at least 16 other current or former News Corporation employees involved in criminal activities that would put the Gambino Crime Family to shame and the investigation into hacking and the cover-up is still in its early stages.

What more will they learn in Britain about the criminal activities of News Corporation?

What more will we learn about the criminal activities of News Corporation here in America?

There was a published (but unsubstantiated) report back in the summer that News Corporation employees hacked into the phones of 9/11 victims and their families here in the U.S.

The DOJ opened an official inquiry into the allegation last summer.

We have learned precious little about that inquiry from the Obama administration, though the New York Times reported on January 2, 2012 that family members of 9/11 victims had good reason to believe someone was hacking into their phones and answering machines:

Shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, relatives of some of the victims began suspecting that someone was eavesdropping on their telephones.

Some heard mysterious clicking sounds on their home and mobile phones. The fiancĂ©e of one man who died at the World Trade Center remembers listening to snippets of someone else’s conversation on her line. A husband of another victim recalls hearing somebody remotely accessing his home answering machine, which still held the final, reassuring message left by his wife shortly before the crash of Flight 93. Others say they are baffled as to how details about their loved ones appeared in British tabloids within days of the attacks.

Relatives of 9/11 victims have heard nothing since meeting with Attorney General Holder in August. They wonder if the Obama administration isn't slow-walking this investigation for reasons unknown to them.

I wonder about that too.

What we do know is that many family members of 9/11 victims saw details about their families and loved ones in Murdoch's papers that were so personal and so private, they did not know how Murdoch's reporters could have learned them so quickly after the attacks or indeed, learned them at all.

Here is one example:

Patricia Bingley, a British citizen whose son, Kevin Dennis, a 43-year-old trader at Cantor Fitzgerald, worked on the 101st floor of the World Trade Center’s north tower, said she was stunned to see, in the Sept. 18, 2001, issue of The Sun, a photograph of her son reading a bedtime story to his two sons, which she did not give to the paper.

The story also contained details about her son that she said no one from her family had provided to The Sun. “It never made sense to me,” she said, adding that she suspects hacking or worse by the paper. “I’d like very much for the government to tell us whether this happened or not. Celebrities seem to have no trouble finding out.”

There were others:

Jodi Westbrook Flowers, a lawyer at a South Carolina firm that represents more than 6,700 relatives of Sept. 11 victims, said she and her colleagues had scoured the British tabloids and found scores of details about the victims. Relatives were not certain how the tabloids found out so much so quickly after the attacks.

One of the relatives, whom she declined to identify, said that five days after Sept. 11, The Sun published the words from a voice mail message left on his cellphone by his son, who was aboard one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center. (British authorities are also investigating whether hacking occurred at The Sun, which, like The News of the World, is owned by News Corporation.)

In late September, Ms. Flowers, of the Motley Rice law firm, sent Mr. Holder phone numbers of two dozen relatives of victims and asked that Scotland Yard run them through the 12,000 pages of documents seized from the home of Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator responsible for most of the hacking by the now-shuttered News of the World. She said at least 100 of her clients, in both the United States and Britain, now want similar information.


Ms. Flowers added, “If there was no hacking, it is wildly coincidental that so many people describe similar experiences.”

We know that Rupert Murdoch's newspapers in Britain were a bastion of criminal activity and corruption, that Murdoch's editors used their newspapers to punish politicians and other officials who didn't do what News Corporation wanted, that they tried to buy police off the case and were first successful at that until the The Guardian report that News International employees had hacked into the phone of a murdered 13 year old girl finally forced the police to re-open an inquiry into the scandal.

We also know that Murdoch moved many of his British employees over to his U.S. papers, most famously his right hand man (and the man who is now a target of the official inquiry into the case) Les Hinton.

It is reasonable to assume that if News International employees in England engaged in criminal activity with impunity overseas, they wouldn't change those habits once they got here in the U.S. and took up work at the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal or other News Corporation media outlets.

It is reasonable to assume, too, that if many of the family members of 9/11 victims who wound up in stories in Murdoch's newspapers have questions about just how Murdoch's reporters got their details, that it's likely Murodch's people were engaging in criminal activity like hacking over here too.

And so, using the New York Post's own rationale for stringent teacher evaluations based upon the case of one teacher who forged jury notes to get out of work with pay, I say it is now time that we have an official investigation into ALL News Corporation employees here in the U.S. for the same kinds of criminal activities their News International comrades overseas have engaged in - phone hacking, computer hacking, bribery, extortion, criminal conspiracy and tampering with evidence.

This is especially so in the case of 9/11 victims' families.

It has been alleged by me that the Obama people are slow-walking this investigation so as not to unduly anger Rupert Murdoch before the 2012 Presidential Election, kind of a quid pro quo between Obama and Murdoch.

You don't go too hard on us, we won't look too hard into the hacking thing.

Given that Murdoch often made such quid pro quo deals with the police and politicians in Britain, it is quite plausible this kind of deal has been made here.

So I don't expect the Obama DOJ to go too hard in this case or actually come up with anything unless they're forced to because of evidence found overseas by the British.

Nonetheless, given the preponderance of evidence against Murdoch's company in Britain, given the reasonable concerns that 9/11 victims' families have that they were hacked after the attacks, given how often Murdoch moved his media personnel from Britain to America, it is logical to assume that if Murdoch's people engaged in criminal activity with impunity over in Britain, they tried it here as well.

This is why a phone hacking investigation - a real one, not slow-walked by the Obama DOJ looking to sit on it until after the November election - must be done on ALL News Corporation employees at the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal, FOX News and other FOX outlets.

If the Post editors truly believe that one teacher guilty of forgery means ALL teachers are suspect, then surely they must believe that 17 arrested News Corporation employees, dozens more under investigation, and three members of the Murdoch brain trust including Murdoch's son, his former right hand man and his former "imposter daughter" either arrested or under investigation for criminal activity in the phone hacking scandal means ALL News Corporation employees, including themselves, are suspect as well.

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