The U.S. Justice Department is preparing subpoenas for preliminary investigations around the bribery and phone hacking scandal that has ridden News Corp. over the last few weeks, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The subpoenas still require approval from the department’s top leadership, and would require News Corp. management to divulge the information it has regarding all of the controversial scandals that the company has been called on in recent times.

The U.S. investigation seems to center around the voicemail hacking of victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The Justice Department says it is also looking into allegations that News of the World staff bribed British police — it seems there is a tangle of jurisdictions in this case that, to my legally untrained eye, would appear to complicate the process.

It’ll be fun to watch and see whether the scrutiny unleashed upon News Corp. leads to more of this corrupt empire being broken up, as has already happened to News of the World. That said, here’s hoping that governments don’t jump on this as an opportunity to constrict the press; everything News Corp. did wrong is already illegal and is not a matter of press freedoms, but when Chairman Gillard of the People’s Republic of Australia wants to ask Murdoch “hard questions” I get a little scared.