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

Hurd to Dunn: The plan is eggggcellent. Mwhahaha ...

Posted by Richard Koman - September 21, 2006

By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher

HP CEO and soon-to-be chairman Mark Hurd was in the loop and approved spying operations on Cnet reporter Dawn Kawamoto, as well as five HP directors, the Washington Post and New York Times are reporting today. Both papers obtained internal emails showing that Hurd and Patricia Dunn jointly approved spying ops. While there's no direct email from Hurd, emails to and from Dunn show that the plan only went through with Hurd's approval.

The Times story shows that Hurd, as well as Patricia Dunn, OK'd spying on HP directors. Robert Sherbin, HP's director of communications, a key henchman in the project, emailed Dunn on Jan. 20 that "there's been another leak around the board." The same day he emailed Jim Fairbaugh, chief of global security, that "Mark believes the names worth looking at are (Richard) Hackborn, (Lawrence) Babbio, (Lucille) Salhany, (George) Keyworth and (Tom) Perkins."


Clearly, then, Dunn talked to Hurd and passed the message back to Sherbin. But that's nothing. Just when you thought your jaw couldn't drop any further on this story, today's Post report will knock your socks off.

The story details HP's attempts to infect Cnet reporter Dawn Kawamoto's computer with software that would track who she sends a planted email to. Dunn and Hurd enthusiastically approved the plan, according to emails obtained by the Post. Here's the timeline:

Jan. 26 - Kawamoto is sent an email from a fake HP employee named "Jabob," saying he wanted to pass her information about a fictional handheld device.

Jan. 28 - Lawyer Kevin Hunsaker, who was in charge of the investigation, and Anthony Gentilucci, global investigations manager, discuss Jacob's personality and the tone the email will take. They hatch a plan to establish Jacob's bona fides before springing the spyware on her.

Feb. 2 - Hunsaker briefs Dunn by PowerPoint presentation, including the email to Kawamoto.

Feb. 5 - Dunn emails Hunsaker: "This sounds promising. I will be in contact with Mark and come back to you with an indication of joint approval as soon as we connect."

Feb. 8 - Ronald DeLia, the outside contractor working with private investigators suggests bugging calls between Keyworth and Kawamoto.

Feb. 9 - Dunn emails Hunsaker and general counsel Ann O. Baskins: "I spoke with Mark and he is on board with the plan to use the info on new handheld. ... He also agrees that we should consider doing something with" a tip on a supposed HP data farm.

Feb. 16 - Kawamoto emails "Jacob" that she would be on vacation the next week. DeLia forwards her email, showing that her calls were actively tracked: "She has made numerous calls to a hotel in Disneyland."

Feb. 22 - Hunsaker emails Dunn and Baskins with a slide of the handheld device sent to Kawamoto. Dunn replies: "Kevin, I think this is very clever. As a matter of course anything that is going to potentially be seen outside HP should have Mark's approval as well."

Feb. 23 - Hunsaker emails Dunn. "FYI, I spoke to Mark a few minutes ago, and he is fine with both the concept and the content."

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