By JORDAN ROBERTSON
AP Business Writer
October 2, 2006
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - A Hewlett-Packard Co. security expert instructed
an investigator to make "make absolutely sure" he deleted private phone
records of non-HP employees obtained in the company's ill-fated effort
to root out the source of boardroom leaks, a series of internal e-mails
Fred Adler, a former FBI agent working in HP's IT security
investigations department, vowed in the Feb. 9 e-mail to investigator
Arthur Molineaux that he would also delete records that were not the
property of the computer and printer maker, according to congressional
documents provided Monday to the Associated Press and other news
"As for the non-HP owned records you obtained and sent to me in an
unsolicited, good faith attempt, please make absolutely sure you delete
them as you stated you would," wrote Adler, who has previously been
praised with another member of the security detail for sounding the
alarms that HP's tactics might land it in legal trouble. "I will do the
An HP spokesman reached late Monday night declined to comment on the
The e-mail was included in hundreds of pages of documents provided to
the media by the congressional panel investigating HP's possibly
criminal probe that has prompted the departure of three board members
and three top employees.
To unmask the person who leaked private boardroom discussions to the
media, HP investigators and third-party detectives combed through
detailed phone logs of directors, journalists and former and current HP
employees, and rummaged through trash, trailed targets when they went
out of town.
Federal and state authorities are investigating whether HP insiders or
contractors violated the law by obtaining the phone records through a
shady practice known as "pretexting," in which the investigators
impersonated their targets to trick the phone companies into coughing up
In other revelations from the congressional documents, a private
investigator hired by HP apparently contracted with a former reporter to
develop a strategy for duping journalist Dawn Kawamoto of CNET's
News.com into revealing her secret company source who divulged details
of private boardroom discussions.
Kawamoto wrote a story based on an anonymous source, later identified as
then-board member George Keyworth II, that detailed a private board
retreat at a posh resort and prompted HP to renew a previously
unsuccessful probe into boardroom leaks.
In an e-mail dated Feb. 6, Ronald DeLia of Security Outsourcing
Solutions wrote to the HP team spearheading the probe, including
then-ethics chief Kevin Hunsaker, Adler and others, that a former
reporter named "Diane" suggested to him several strategies for tricking
One recommended tactic to build trust was to send Kawamoto a tip with a
piece of unannounced news set to break in the following days.
However, the investigators, who were planning to plant tracking software
on the e-mail attachment to identify anyone it was forwarded to, were
instructed to send the document at least 2 days before it is made public
instead of just one, because "information obtained 2 days prior to its
release has more of an 'insider feel,'" DeLia wrote.
"The reporter has to feel comfortable or have a sense the source is
someone who has accurate information and is in a position to know," he
Also, HP investigators apparently coordinated with the company's media
relations department to bait that e-mail with a juicy bit of unannounced
real news in an attempt to "gain some major credibility" with Kawamoto,
according to one e-mail from Hunsaker.
The investigators tried to lure the reporter with a piece of upcoming
news concerning the appointment of a new leader for HP's handheld
business unit, a plan that was cleared by then-Chairwoman Patricia Dunn,
then-General Counsel Ann Baskins and Chief Executive Mark Hurd.
In e-mails between HP security team members on Feb. 8 and 9, the
investigators detail plans for Bob Sherbin, HP's head of public
relations, to send the press release to Hunsaker at least two days
before the public announcement.
The security squad would then install the tracer technology and send the
message to Kawamoto.
Reached late Monday, Sherbin said he didn't know about the tracer
technology and believed the press release would be used properly.
"I was acting under instruction from senior management, and I had every
reason to believe that the material would be used properly," Sherbin
But the investigators first needed approval from Dunn and Hurd, which
came in a Feb. 9 e-mail from Dunn to Hunsaker and Baskins: "I spoke with
Mark and he is on board with the plan to use the info on new handheld
leader," Dunn wrote.
Hurd later testified that he approved the plan but said he didn't recall
authorizing the use of the tracer technology, which is not generally
The rigged e-mail was launched later that day, and one member of the
security detail, Anthony Gentilucci had trouble containing his
"This is like waiting for the Apollo 13 spacecraft to emerge from the
dark side of the moon," said Gentilucci, who has since resigned from HP.
The company said later that the tracer trick was unsuccessful, possibly
because the software failed or Kawamoto didn't open the attachment.
Four days later, on Feb. 13, HP officially announced the news contained
in the message that it was making its handheld business a separate unit
within its Personal Systems Group division, and that former Sun
Microsystems executive Dave Rothschild would lead the unit.
Copyright 2006, The Anchorage Daily News
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