Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

HP emails show Dunn & Baskins intimately involved

Posted by Richard Koman - September 20, 2006

By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher

The Wall Street Journal has internal HP emails that show that chairman Pattie Dunn and general counsel Ann Baskins were intimately involved in the leak-plugging investigations - known internally as KONA and KONA II - and that they may well have known that pretexting was involved. The emails also detail some of the HP personnel involved in the probe.

On Aug. 6, 2005, HP's manager of global investigations, Tony Gentilucci (who contracted with Security Outsourcing Services' Ron DeLia, who hired the firms who did the actual pretexting) sent an email to Dunn, Baskins, Jim Fairbaugh and DeLia.

In the memo, Mr. Gentilucci updated Ms. Dunn and the others on several facets of the probe, including "intelligence gathering" on "interested parties" through "internal and external sources."

Mr. Gentilucci's memo described an intensive investigation in 2005, code-named Project KONA, in which H-P's security officials cultivated confidential "informants" to develop leads on which directors may have met with which journalists.

The memo says that Gentilucci intends to follow up on some leads provided by VP of media relations Robert Sherbin, including a sighting of George Keyworth, who was in fact the leaker, meeting with a Journal reporter in a San Francisco hotel a year prior.

In another section of the 2005 memo labeled "Update," Mr. Gentilucci wrote that a "tentative management briefing" on the investigation was scheduled for Aug. 31. It is unclear if this meeting took place. If it did, it raises the question of who else in H-P's management, including CEO Mark Hurd, knew about the extent of the leak probe in summer 2005. H-P has said Mr. Hurd was given a summary of the leak investigation's results in March of this year, but didn't focus on the evidence for those conclusions.

The key question for law enforcement officials is what did they know, and when did they know it. An email from HP security official Fred Adler to Kevin Hunsaker, an ethics attorney at HP and apparently the one guy at the center of the KONA operations, offers an internal opinion that HP couldn't get cellphone or text-messaging records legally "unless we either pay the bill or get consent."

Apparently Hunsaker wanted to get copies of Perkins' text messages because he rarely used his cellphone. He asked Adler if HP could "lawfully get text-message content, or is it the same as the cellphone records?" This question suggests that Adler had already answered that obtaining cellphone records would be illegal.

So in January, Hunsaker knew that obtaining cellphone records was likely illegal. Hunsaker reports to Baskins. Both Baskins and Dunn had been very much in the loop in the earlier investigation. Now in April, just before confronting Keyworth, Hunsaker sends an email to Gentilucci and DeLia, saying at Baskins' request he wants to "confirm the legality" of the operation.

Mr. Hunsaker's email described how personal phone records had been gathered through outside parties, noting that he was the only H-P employee who saw the fully compiled records. His email said H-P provided the names and phone numbers of the people it was targeting to Mr. DeLia, and he passed on the information to a "third party" and "they make the pretext calls." He said his own legal research, as well as that of an outside attorney, confirmed that pretexting was legal.

Outside attorney? Would that be Joe Kiernan, DeLia's attorney? The Times' reported over the weekend that Baskins relied on Kiernan for legal opinion about the legality of the operation. Now with all of the legal expertise at HP's disposal, including Wilson Sonsini, there's only one reason to have your henchman ask his spy for legal advice. Not an authentic interest in the correct answer but CYA.

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