The relatives of 9/11 victims who believe an investigator working for Rupert Murdoch's News International accessed their phones in the days following the 2001 terrorist attacks are getting really frustrated that the F.B.I. won't tell them whether their numbers are on a list Scotland Yard seized from that investigator. They have a point, but from The New York Times' report on the issue, it sounds like Scotland Yard might not have much to tell them. The families' question is a pretty basic one -- their lawyer, Jodi Flowers, called it a "simple threshold question" -- but all the victims' families have heard from the F.B.I. was a note from public corruption unit chief Vida G. Bottom saying: "The F.B.I. has undertaken a preliminary review to assess the veracity of those allegations."
Justice Department officials told New York Times reporter Don Van Natta that "they did not expect much to come of the investigation," and Van Natta, who has written extensively on the hacking case, wrote that the suspicious clicks, cross-talk, and home answering machine playback reported by the victims' families "do not fit the pattern of the confirmed hacking cases, in which cellphone messages were illegally accessed in pursuit of tabloid stories." Still, the families do tell some pretty creepy sounding stories, which if connected to the News International hacking case could elevate it to an even more serious international scandal that would cost Murdoch many more millions in settlements than he's already paid out. Of course, the News Corporation's (and News International's) potential to make billions over the next three years thanks to new Simpsons syndication deals would cover any losses it took by paying phone hacking victims.