Will the Obama Administration Prosecute Murdoch?

The transgressions of Rupert Murdoch's now-defunct News of the World make its parent company, News Corporation, fair game for U.S. prosecution, writes Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast.

How so, you ask?

Well, because News Corp. is an American company, based in New York, and therefore subject to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which allows for the prosecution of U.S. companies for participating in the corruption of foreign governments. If it's proven that News of the World paid bribes to members of the Metropolitan Police Authority, News Corp. is vulnerable.

It would, Tomasky admits, make for a novel application of the law, but nonetheless well within its scope. But the law is generally enforced not by crusading district attorneys, but by the top figures in the Justice Department. Civil suits may be brought under the aegis of another federal agency, the Securities and Exchange Commission.

So, given the temperament of the current chief executive, an opportunity to sanction News Corp. for its egregious behavior will likely be lost. Writes Tomasky:

Would Barack Obama and Holder would be willing to take the inevitable heat for an arguably unusual application of the law? I think we know enough about Obama at this point to conclude that this is something he’d never do, unless new information inflamed U.S. public opinion (if, say, we learned that the News of the World hacked Americans’ phones), and maybe not even then.

AlterNet / By Adele M. Stan

Posted at July 21, 2011, 9:27am

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