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9 reporters in HP scandal identified

The LA Times this morning has identified all nine reporters whose phone records were obtained by Hewlett Packard investigators: They are Peter Burrows, Ben Elgin and Roger Crockett of Business Week; Pui-Wing Tam and George Anders of the Wall Street Journal; John Markoff of the New York Times; and Dawn Kawamoto, Tom Krazit and Stephen Shankland of CNET’s News.com.

The personal phone records of Shankland’s father, Thomas, a physicist in New Mexico, were also compromised, according to CNet. It’s unclear why HP was interested in Thomas Shankland’s records, but his inclusion indicates that the pretexting extended beyond HP directors and journalists, the Times said. The phone records were obtained by a private investigation firm hired by HP using a process called “pretexting,” where an investigator poses as a phone customer to trick a phone company into releasing phone records. The phone company usually requires part or all of a Social Security number to release such information.

Other developments in the HP scandal:

• FEDS ENTER CASE: The LA Times reports that the FCC sent a letter of inquiry to AT&T, the source of the personal phone records obtained by HP. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) asked U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to review whether HP’s investigation broke any federal laws. Viet Dinh, a lawyer for Tom Perkins, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist who quit HP’s board in May in protest over the leak investigation, said his client had asked federal prosecutors to review the HP probe. Perkins also made enforcement referrals to the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission, Dinh said.


• HP BOARD TO MEET SUNDAY in an emergency meeting, the Mercury News says.

• CHAIRWOMAN SAYS SHE’S NOT STUPID. The Merc quotes HP chairwoman Patricia Dunn as saying: “I’m happy to say even though the attorney general (Bill Lockyer) has been on the television several times calling me the most ‘colossally stupid’ person he’s ever heard of, I’m happy to say I have family and colleagues that don’t have that” opinion. (Dunn photo by Paul Sakuma of AP.)

• REPORTERS TO GET E-MAIL APOLOGIES: The Merc story also quotes Dunn as saying she has bugun offering apologies in phone interviews with some reporters whose phone records were obtained. As for making amends with other reporters, Dunn said, “I have a whole bunch of e-mails that I plan to send tonight.”


• DUNN CALLS PERKINS AN ‘ENEMY’: Venture capitalist Tom Perkins, who resigned HP’s board over the investigation, said in an e-mail obtained by the Merc: “The investigation was a Pattie Dunn program, 100 percent — conceived and managed by her, and unknown to the board, except perhaps in the most vague and imprecise terms, with the possible exception of (CEO) Mark (Hurd), who she may have briefed.” Dunn responded on Friday: “Tom is very upset with me because I didn’t go along with his desire to cover this up. He wanted Jay’s (Keyworth, accused leaker on the board) identity to be kept secret,” Dunn said. “Tom is a very powerful, very formidable individual to have as an enemy. I regret that very much, but I could never have done it the way he wanted it to be done.” (Perkins photo by Emily Mott.)

WHAT ABOUT HP MANAGEMENT? HP chief executive Mark Hurd, who has been trying to turn the company around since the firing of Carly Fiorina, sent an e-mail to HP emploees yesterday defending the investigation, saying that the board has a long history of leaks that “clearly needs to be resolved.” But he added that “clearly things have happened here that are unacceptable,” without offering any specifics, according to the Chronicle.

• CASE SHINES LIGHT ON PRETEXTING: A number of news stories this morning say that the HP case is shining the light on “pretexting,” and that Congress might investigate the practice. This Washington Post story explains how pretexting got started, the techniques investigators use to get personal information on people and some examples — like how a blogger paid $89.95 to obtain the cell phone records of retired Gen. Wesley Clark. The Merc points out that a bill by State Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, to make pretexting illegal was approved by California’s Legislature last month and awaits Gov. Schwarzenegger’s signature.

SPJ CHIEF ISN’T SHOCKED: Christine Tatum, president of the Society of Professional Journalists and a Denver Post business writer, tells CNET that she’s not shocked that corporations would feel “empowered” to try the same kind of techniques the government uses to discover the identity of confidential sources.

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