HP's Hurd: Dunn Out As Board Chair - InformationWeek

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HP's Hurd: Dunn Out As Board Chair

In his first public remarks about the HP leak investigation scandal, CEO Mark Hurd acknowledged that the company and its investigators engaged in pretexting, obtained and used Social Security numbers, and engaged in other questionable behavior.

The deepening HP leak investigation has claimed as its first victim, chairman of the board Patricia Dunn, and for the first time, linked company president and CEO Mark Hurd to the scandal.

While Dunn, who resigned from the board effective immediately, has been criticized for her knowledge of, and participation in, what appears to be in some cases, illicit intelligence schemes, Hurd had been staying safely out of the fray.

Speaking at the company's first press conference relating to the scandal since news of HP's media leak investigation broke, Hurd said he will take on Dunn's duties as board chairman, and publicly acknowledged his role in at least part of the investigation. (Hurd's statement is posted on the HP Web site.)

The initial plan, announced just last week, had Dunn stepping down as chairman in January, 2007, but retaining a seat on the board.

Hurd also named Richard Hackborn as independent lead director of the company.

Hurd's acknowledgement followed a report in the Washington Post that he had personally approved an elaborate plan to trick a reporter into identifying her sources by sending her false information. The scheme was part of an overall intelligence operation that involved embedding 'tracers' in emails sent to the press, making up phony personas to mislead and spy on reporters, falsifying documents and conducting physical surveillance. "What began as an investigation with the best intentions has turned in a direction we could not have anticipated," said Hurd, in his first public remarks on the investigation scandal. "Now we know the depth of what's transpired, I take full responsibility to get this right."

Hurd also took some personal responsibility for getting some of it done. He said he knew about the plan to send false emails to a journalist, and he approved of it. However, he says he does not recall seeing, or approving, of the use of tracer technology, which was supposed to be embedded into a phony email designed to find out who a targeted journalist was talking to.

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