September 28, 2006 7:53 AM PDT
Dunn grilled by Congress
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"I think she's basically saying she's not culpable here, and she accepts no responsibilty for what occurred," retorted Rep. Cliff Stearns, a Florida Republican, adding: "Wouldn't it at this point occur to you that you might want to resign because of all these problems?"
"I have done so, sir," Dunn said. As Stearns acknowledged his slip-up, she quipped: "I can do so again if you would like me to," drawing a few chuckles from the audience.
Late in the questioning of Dunn, she said she was aware not only that HP planned to send a fake e-mail, but that investigators were planning to send some sort of tracking mechanism that would allow it to see who opened the attachment. "I did hear the word tracer," Dunn said. "I understand it was a way of confirming the receipt of the e-mail."
Under questioning, outside lawyer Sonsini said that when he received a report in April on the investigation, he focused on the results of the probe and not the tactics, even though the report mentioned reviewing third-party phone records and the e-mail sting. "It certainly seemed to me to be somewhat over-the-top," Sonsini said. However, he said he was not in charge of the investigation. "Who was in charge was the HP internal legal department. Rightly or wrongly, that's what happened."
HP security worker Adler said, under questioning, that he was the one who came up with the idea to include a software-based tracking device in the e-mail to Kawamoto. "That was my idea," Adler said. "At the time I understood it to be a legally permissible way to obtain information, and I still believe it to be." Adler said it is a tactic still sanctioned by HP and one they have used in past investigations.
Adler said he knows of HP using the tracing technology a dozen or two dozen times, including instances when the company was working with law enforcement.
HP has admitted to accessing the phone records of more than a dozen people, including current and former board members, nine journalists, two employees and an unspecified number of other people. In addition to Thursday's congressional hearings, there are federal and state criminal probes under way, as well as an inquiry from the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The tenor of the hearing in the House of Representatives was set early on as politicians took the company to task for not opposing questionable investigative techniques.
"Where was somebody to say this just wasn't right?" asked Rep. Walden. Walden said that he understands the importance of making sure confidential information stays confidential, but said HP's methods were "horribly outrageous...There's no excuse for it. There just isn't."
In his opening remarks, Rep. John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat, called HP's investigation "a plumber operation that would make Richard Nixon blush."
After concluding her testimony for the day, Dunn posed for group photos with supporters, and her attorney issued a warning to former HP board members Tom Perkins and George Keyworth.
"Those people who served on the board initiated almost everything that you've seen in the last three weeks," said James Brosnahan, Dunn's lawyer. "I am surprised that two former members of the board of HP would step out into the public arena and utter things that have no factual support. This is not the place to deal with it, but I assure you we are going to deal with them and their lawyers." Brosnahan didn't elaborate about what he meant.
The attorney for George Keyworth, the former HP board director who HP has alleged leaked important company information to the press, lashed out at claims made by Dunn during the hearing.
Reginald Brown, of Washington law firm WilmerHale, wrote in a statement to the media on Thursday that HP's leak hunt was both "childish and chilling" and denied some of the allegations Dunn leveled at Keyworth and his involvement with previous leaks.
"Despite the unsupported claims made by Ms. Dunn today," Brown said, "Dr. Keyworth was also not the source of the divisive leaks he and other HP board members rightly decried in the past."
Keyworth, who resigned from the board earlier this month, has maintained that he was permitted by HP to speak to the media on behalf of the company. [News.com has not identified the source for its Jan. 23 story.]
Brown said that none of the information Keyworth passed along was damaging to the company, and noted that Keyworth, nor anyone else spied on by HP, "ever deserved to have their records purloined."
CNET News.com's Greg Sandoval and Anne Broache contributed to this report from Washington, D.C.
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