Say what? Key quotes from HP's congressional hearing

A sampling of some of the best zingers--ranging from acerbic barbs to passing the buck--to come from HP testimony.

CNET News staff
4 min read
A congressional hearing regarding Hewlett-Packard's investigation into information leaks to the press saw plenty of noteworthy one-liners and admonishments from U.S. representatives. Here is a sampling of some of the highlights to come from the proceedings.

• HP's investigation was "a plumber operation that would make Richard Nixon blush."--Rep. John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat

• "If Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard were alive today, they'd be appalled. They'd be embarrassed."--HP's CEO and president, Mark Hurd

Mark Hurd
Credit: HP
Mark Hurd

• "Is all of this really the HP way?...I'm not even talking about the legality issues so much as kind of the sleaze factor here. And I'm just wondering if none of this really came through to you over the period."--Rep. Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat, to former HP Chairman Patricia Dunn (Watch video)

• "Not my finest hour, Mr. Chairman."--Mark Hurd, after repeatedly stating he had not read a key report that detailed the methods used in the leak probe.

• "I would not want somebody, without my permission, to have my cell phone bill."--Mark Hurd

• "If it is not illegal, then it is leaving HP in a position of (sic) that could damage our reputation or worse...I am requesting that we cease this phone number gathering method immediately and discount any of its information."--HP security official Vince Nye in a Feb. 7 e-mail read at the hearing


In an exchange between Dunn and Joe Barton, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee:

Barton: "If I called you up, Ms. Dunn, and said I'd like your phone records for the last six months, would you give me that?"

Dunn: "If I understood why you wanted it...in your position, I would give you my phone records," eliciting laughter from the crowd.

Barton: "Well, praise the Lord," Barton said. "I wouldn't give you mine."

Dunn: "I hope that doesn't mean you have something to hide."


In an exchange between Dunn and Rep. Greg Walden, an Oregon Republican:

Greg Walden
Greg Walden

Dunn: In response to Walden, who repeatedly asked how she thought HP was getting the phone records, "My understanding was these records were publicly available...I understood that you could call up and get phone records" because she thought it was a common investigative technique.

Walden expressed skepticism and asked Dunn if she really believed that.

Dunn: "I thought a year ago, I thought six months ago, that indeed you could," she said.

Walden: "You're serious?"

Walden: "I'm not being funny here. You honestly believed it was that simple?"


In an exchange between Dunn and Rep. Jan Schakowsky:

Jan Schakowsky
Jan Schakowsky

Dunn: "I believe that these methods may in fact be quite common, not just at Hewlett-Packard, but at companies around the country. Every company has a security department. Every company of consequence has people who do detective-type work in order to ferret out the sources of nefarious activities...I've heard about, in the audit committee of Hewlett-Packard, how there are people in the investigations team who actually pose as customers, or pose as suppliers, or pose..."

Schakowsky: "As clerical workers in newsrooms, too."

Dunn: "That I had never heard...But my point is simply...companies do a lot of this kind of work to protect the interest of their shareholders, but maybe we're all just coming to be aware of how common it is." (Watch video)


• "If I knew then what I know now, I would have done things very differently." However, she said, "I do not accept personal responsibility for what happened."--Patricia Dunn

Patricia Dunn
Credit: HP
Patricia Dunn

• "I did hear the word tracer...I understand it was a way of confirming the receipt of the e-mail."--Patricia Dunn

• "The name 'Kona' will never mean the same thing to me again."--Patricia Dunn, after explaining that she came up with "Kona" as the moniker for the secret probe while vacationing in the village on Hawaii's Big Island.

• "Where was somebody to say this just wasn't right?"--Rep. Walden (Watch video)

• "Those people who served on the board initiated almost everything that you've seen in the last three weeks...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."--James Brosnahan, Patricia Dunn's attorney

• Neither Keyworth, nor anyone else spied on by HP, "ever deserved to have their records purloined."--Reginald Brown, George Keyworth's attorney

• "I respectfully decline to answer based on the rights and protections guaranteed to me by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States."--Former HP general counsel Ann Baskins (Watch video)

• "Mr. Chairman, on the advice of my counsel, I am asserting my rights under the U.S. Constitution to not testify here today."--Kevin Hunsaker, former HP senior counsel (Watch video)

• "Mr. Chairman and other committee members, I understand the Constitution of the United States gives me the right not to be forced to be a witness against myself and due to other ongoing investigations, I must assert that constitutional right, and I respectfully decline to answer the committee's questions today."--Anthony Gentilucci, former HP security head (Watch video)