Congress Hears HP Testimony on Spying
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
The examination of Hewlett-Packard remains fully charged. The company faces investigations from prosecutors and from lawmakers. Congress is examining the company's spying scandal.
Lawmakers want to know why HP used practices including pretexting to find out who was leaking boardroom secrets. NPR's Kathleen Schalch reports.
KATHLEEN SCHALCH: Lawmakers like Kentucky Republican Edward Whitfield were already alarmed about pretexting.
Representative EDWARD WHITFIELD (Republican, Kentucky): To be clear, pre-texting means using fraud, deceit, and impersonation to acquire someone's personal records without his or her consent.
SCHALCH: Whitfield chairs the House subcommittee on oversight investigations, which has been looking into pretexting for the past eight months. Members demanded to know why HP allowed it to happen.
Patricia Dunn, who just resigned as chairwoman of HP's board, said she wasn't to blame.
Ms. PATRICIA DUNN (Former Chairman, Hewlett-Packard): I have no recollection of a conversation that included anything about the misrepresentation of identity to obtain phone records.
SCHALCH: Dunn said she didn't find out about it until June. Whitfield scolded her and others for turning a blind eye.
Rep. WHITFIELD: So it would appear that Hewlett-Packard relied upon a document prepared by a law clerk hired by the private investigator, saying that pretexting was legal.
SCHALCH: And, lawmakers pointed out, some company officials had long suspected that it wasn't.
Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey questioned company investigator Fred Adler.
Representative ED MARKEY (Democrat, Massachusetts): So you believed it was illegal, then, as well, in January?
Mr. FRED ADLER (Company Investigator, Hewlett-Packard): In January, yes sir. I did.
SCHALCH: Many others, who could've shed light on the investigation, refused to testify, invoking their constitutional right against self-incrimination.
HP's CEO and new chairman of the board, Mark Hurd, promised to keep digging.
Mr. MARK HURD (CEO, Hewlett-Packard): And I will get to the bottom of this. I pledge that HP will take whatever steps necessary to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.
SCHALCH: But members of the committee don't want to take chances. They want legislation making it crystal clear that pretexting is a crime.
Kathleen Schalch, NPR News, Washington.
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