The U.S. Department of Justice has hired one of its former antitrust chiefs to help determine whether to file an antitrust challenge to the proposed search advertising deal between Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc., according to a story in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal.

The DOJ hired Sanford Litvack, former vice chairman of the Walt Disney Co. and antitrust chair at the DOJ under President Jimmy Carter, to examine evidence gathered by DOJ attorneys in recent weeks, the paper said. The agreement would have Yahoo running advertising from Google alongside its search results, the paper said.

The article noted that government lawyers have been interviewing witnesses and issuing subpoenas for documents that could support a potential challenge to the deal. Litvack has been charged with examining the evidence and building a case if its decided to mount an antitrust challenge, the WSJ said.

Litvack resigned last week from Hogan & Hartson LLP, where he was a partner in the Los Angeles and New York offices, according to the story.

In a statement sent to Computerworld today, Yahoo said that the DOJ has notified the company that it is seeking advice from an outside consultant, "but that we should read nothing into that fact."