September 29, 2006

The Rest of the Story [8:00 am]

Continuing the question I asked in Is *This* What They Meant When They Spoke of an “MBA President?”, we get to see more of what passes for corporate ethics and responsibility here as Patricia Dunn elects to deny the penalty: H.P. Before a Skeptical Congress

Hewlett-Packard’s former chairwoman and its current leader faced an admonishing and sometimes incredulous House subcommittee on Thursday as they tried to explain why they never questioned the legal foundation of an internal spying operation.

The former chairwoman, Patricia C. Dunn, who authorized the operation but said repeatedly that she was not its supervisor, came under especially harsh scrutiny because she refused to express contrition when invited to do so.

“I get the sense that you still don’t believe that you did anything wrong,” said Representative Cliff Stearns, Republican of Florida. After trying to answer obliquely, Ms. Dunn finally said, “I do not accept personal responsibility for what happened.”

And here I thought there was at least *some* basis for what a CEO salary looks like. Who knew that it was about denying responsibility whenever possible? This is corporate leadership in America today? No wonder we can’t populate Congress with anyone with any guts or integrity, either.

See also Salon’s article: Another spying scandal for Capitol Hill

Dunn’s defense — which is based on the supposition that a talented, driven woman could also be obtuse — came shining through as she described in her opening statement to the committee her dealings with an outside investigator, Ron DeLia, who had earlier invoked the Fifth Amendment. “In my two or three conversations with Mr. DeLia,” Dunn said, “I learned that checking telephone records was a standard investigative technique at HP, and that they were drawn from publicly available sources.” In reality, DeLia and his shadowy sub-contractors obtained these records through impersonation and other unethical (if perhaps legal) means.

“I understood that you could call up and get phone records — and it is a common investigative technique,” Dunn also said. As she continued to repeat her innocent assumption during her nearly five hours of testimony, Oregon Republican Greg Walden finally lost his patience. With a note of puzzlement Walden asked, “You thought that I could call up and get your phone records?” Dunn responded, “I thought you could.” Finally, shaking his head with incredulity, he simply inquired, “You’re serious?”

Recognize the strategy? [pdf]

The House Committee hearing WWW site; also, today’s planned hearing — Internet Data Brokers and Pretexting: Who Has Access to Your Private Records?; NYTimes writeup of the HP investigator’s report

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