HP's Dunn says others supervised probe

In written testimony, former chairman drops names of CEO Mark Hurd, general counsel Ann Baskins and CFO Bob Wayman.

Ina Fried
Ina Fried Former Staff writer, CNET News
During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley.
3 min read
Former Hewlett-Packard Chairman Patricia Dunn said in congressional testimony released Wednesday that she relied on executives at the company to advise her on the leak probe and did not consider herself the project's "supervisor."

In written testimony (click for PDF) made public the day before a congressional subcommittee hearing on the matter, Dunn said she approached HP Chief Financial Officer Bob Wayman in February or March of 2005 and asked for assistance in figuring out who had leaked confidential board information.

Dunn said that Wayman, who was HP's interim CEO at the time, pointed her to Kevin Huska, who she said was "introduced as having responsibility for Global Security at HP." Huska was listed by HP in a report on Friday as among those involved with the first phase of the leak probe investigation, though HP has declined to say what his role with the company is or was.

HP defended Wayman in a statement on Wednesday.

"To the best of our knowledge Bob Wayman had no involvement whatsoever in this leak investigation," an HP representative said. "Any assumption about Bob Wayman's involvement made by Ms. Dunn was nothing more than that--an assumption."

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is holding hearings on the HP leak probe on Thursday as part of a broader inquiry into the practice of pretexting, or using false means to obtain personal records. HP has said that more than a dozen people had their phone records improperly targeted, including current and former board members, nine journalists, two employees and an unspecified number of outsiders.

Dunn said she was informed in late spring 2005 that phone records were being accessed, but she was led by outside investigator Ron DeLia to believe the methods were proper. "The clear impression I had from Mr. DeLia was that such records could be obtained from publicly available sources in a legal and appropriate manner."

She also maintains she was not the one overseeing the probe.

"When the work that eventually was termed 'Project Kona' got under way, I did not at any point consider myself its 'supervisor,' Dunn said. She said she assumed Huska or someone else was supervising the outside investigators. The initial phase of the investigation concluded in August, Dunn said. "By some time in August 2005, I was informed that the investigation had come to a stopping point," she said.

A second phase of the investigation, Dunn said, was begun in late January 2006, after the publication of a Jan. 23 CNET News.com story that included details from a board meeting earlier in the month near Palm Springs, Calif. However, HP has also said that outside investigators physically surveilled a January board meeting and sources say that was the only such meeting in January. HP has declined to say why such surveillance took place if the old investigation had concluded and the new one only started after the Jan. 23 article.

For her part, Dunn said in her testimony, "I do not recall a point where anyone informed me that Project Kona was ended, but I do recall knowing at some point that it had failed to produce results."

As for Kona 2, Dunn said she suggested to HP general counsel Ann Baskins that the company consider using a different firm, Kroll Associates, whom Dunn said she knew to have a good reputation. Dunn said Baskins instead recommended turning the investigation over to Kevin Hunsaker. Hunsaker is described by HP as having overseen the second phase of the investigation; he left the company effective Tuesday, HP said.

Among the other revelations in her written testimony, Dunn said that CEO Mark Hurd's involvement was greater in the second phase of the investigation than it had been in the first part of the probe. "By the time Kona 2 was in full swing, Mr. Hurd was more aware than in Kona 1 of its activities." Dunn said that Hurd attended "perhaps two or three meetings." Although she said neither she nor Hurd designed or implemented the investigative techniques, she said both "were made aware of a 'sting' operation" designed to see whether a News.com reporter was in contact with former HP director George Keyworth.

In his statement (click for PDF) to Congress, Hurd apologized for the probe, which he said "became a rogue investigation."

"It's an age-old story," he said. "The ends came to justify the means."

Hurd also pledged that those affected would "soon" get an accounting of what had happened to them.

"I pledge that I will dig harder and deeper and I will get to the bottom of this," he said, echoing a pledge he made at a press conference on Friday.