News of the World: Is David Cameron on the Chopping Block, And Is Scandal Moving to US?

 The heads are rolling over the News of the World phone hacking scandal, and the disgraced are coming from increasingly high places. Yesterday, Rupert Murdoch's former third-in-command, Rebekah Brooks, was arrested by Scotland Yard in connection with the hacking. Today, Metropolitan police assistant commissioner John Yates—Britain's top counter-terrorism official—became the second officer at Scotland Yard to resign over the incidents, following his boss, police commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson. The Guardian:

His decision to quit came as the Metropolitan Police Authority's professional standards cases subcommittee held a meeting to consider a slew of complaints against him.

The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said the resignations of Yates and Stephenson were "regrettable but right". He said: "Whatever mistakes have been made at any level in the police service, now is the time to clear them up."

A statement is expected from Yates at the end of the day.

All of this begs the question: how far up will this scandal reach, and could David Cameron get the axe? The British Prime Minister has come under fire for hiring now-arrested former News of the World editor Andy Coulson as his director of communications—a move that Labour Party Leader (and guiding light of the hacking investigations) has said "hamstrung" Cameron "by his own decisions." TheGuardian, again:

Miliband and other members of the shadow cabinet are not openly calling for Cameron's resignation. But they are coming close, because they have been suggesting that it was unfair for Sir Paul Stephenson to have to resign over the Met's decision to hire a former NoW executive when Cameron also hired a former NoW executive. Here is how Miliband put it in his speech:

"It is of great concern, however, that the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police was unable to discuss vital issues with the Prime Minister because he felt that David Cameron was himself compromised on this issue because of Andy Coulson.

"It is also striking that Sir Paul Stephenson ha s taken responsibility and resigned over the employment of Mr Coulson's deputy, while the Prime Minister hasn't even apologised for hiring Mr Coulson.

"We need leadership to get to the truth of what happened.

"But David Cameron is hamstrung by his own decisions and his unwillingness to face up to them."

Today Parliament is meeting about the issues and tomorrow, Brooks and both Rupert and James Murdoch will give their testimony—which Keith Olbermann will cover in real time on Current TV. But before that: will the scandal officially reach the states? 

The Telegraph says yes, after reporting a story that actor Jude Law and his assistant were hacked while they were staying in New York, making News of the World vulnerable to American wiretapping laws. Even if the phones were hacked from the UK, they were working on US phone networks. The Telegraph:

The announcement of an FBI inquiry into the 9/11 hacking claims followed the intervention of a number of US politicians.

As well as facing a number of civil cases, News Corp could also be prosecuted under the 1977 Foreign Corrupt Practices Act which makes it illegal for US firms to bribe overseas officials. This follows allegations that executives authorised the payment of police officers for information.

A spokesman for News International said: "We have seen no evidence to link phone hacking with the families of the 9/11 victims."


 Follow the Guardian's liveblog of the news as it unfolds here.


AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at July 18, 2011, 4:29am

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