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 user 2006-10-20 at 12:08:00 pm Views: 76
  • #16742

    A Reporter’s Story: How H-P Kept
    Tabs on Me for a Year

    Firm’s Search for Leak Led Sleuths
    to Scope Out Trash, Compile Phone Dossier Organizing a Bridal Shower

    Unbeknownst to my family and me,
    someone was scoping out our trash earlier this year — someone hired by
    Hewlett-Packard Co.

    The trash study was carried out in
    January by Security Outsourcing Solutions Inc., a Needham, Mass., investigative
    firm that H-P employed, according to a briefing H-P officials gave me
    yesterday. Whether the sleuths ever encountered my toddler’s dirty diapers, H-P
    said it doesn’t know.I learned this — and more — as I sat in a conference
    room at H-P’s outside law firm yesterday in San Francisco, where attorney John
    Schultz ran through a litany of snooping tactics H-P’s agents used against me
    as part of its effort to identify which of its directors might be leaking news
    to the press. For around a year, Mr. Schultz told me, H-P collected information
    about me. H-P’s investigators tried at least five times, he said, to get access
    to my home-phone, cellphone and office-phone records. In several instances,
    they succeeded: H-P now has lists of calls I made to people such as my editors,
    my husband, my insurance company and a reporting source employed by one H-P
    rival.H-P’s agents had my photo and reviewed videotaped footage of me, said Mr.
    Schultz, of the law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. They conducted
    “surveillance” by looking for me at certain events to see if I would
    show up to meet an H-P director. (I didn’t.) They also carried out
    “pre-trash inspections” at my suburban home early this year, Mr.
    Schultz said.Mr. Schultz was carrying out a public promise by H-P Chief
    Executive Mark Hurd, who pledged before Congress last month that he would give
    investigation details to the targets of H-P’s snooping. The company told me, in
    an email, that I would receive “a complete accounting of the information
    that H-P gathered about you and exactly what methods were used to collect
    it.”But what was surprising were the questions Mr. Schultz left
    unanswered: How did H-P’s agents get my phone numbers in the first place? When
    did they review videotaped footage of me? Did their gumshoes park their cars
    outside my house at night? And what the heck is pre-trash inspection? On that,
    Mr. Schultz said: “We just don’t know.” Indeed, there’s a lot H-P
    seems not to know — or isn’t telling — about what it did to me. Mr. Schultz
    told me H-P can’t yet provide a comprehensive picture because security firms it
    contracted with aren’t cooperating with its requests to hand over information
    about some of the investigative work.Many details of what H-P had done in my
    case I had already gleaned from some now-public investigation documents.
    According to those documents, H-P built up information on my husband, including
    where we got engaged and married. H-P sleuths reviewed voicemails I’d left for
    an H-P director, and got a description of my car. They read my instant messages
    to an H-P media-relations executive. According to the California attorney
    general, H-P’s investigators also used the last four digits of my Social
    Security number to impersonate me in order to obtain my phone records, a
    technique known as “pretexting.”H-P’s lawyer shed no new light on
    these details, but one thing’s increasingly clear: H-P went to some truly
    strange lengths to dig up personal details.The methods H-P used on directors
    and journalists like me were “far from standard practice,” says Ann
    Keating, vice president at Investigative Group International Inc., a
    Washington, D.C., security consulting and investigations firm. Surveillance and
    trash inspection in particular, she says, are typically “more tied to
    marital cases, such as when someone is trying to find out if his or her spouse
    is cheating.”H-P considered these tactics in its leak probes — code-named
    Kona and Kona II — which unfolded in two stages, one in 2005 and the other
    earlier this year. During the investigations, H-P secretly put its directors,
    nine journalists and others under scrutiny. The scandal, which became public
    last month, has spurred the departures of three executives and three H-P
    directors, including former chairman Patricia Dunn. Earlier this month,
    California Attorney General Bill Lockyer filed fraud and conspiracy charges
    against Ms. Dunn and four others because of techniques used in the probes. Ms.
    Dunn hasn’t yet entered a formal plea.I was a subject of the investigations
    because I covered H-P for The Wall Street Journal from 2002 until earlier this
    year. The H-P board’s initial inquiry into leaks was prompted by a January 2005
    Wall Street Journal article I wrote detailing the board’s unhappiness with then
    CEO Carly Fiorina. This angered Ms. Fiorina, who launched the investigation to
    determine the source of the information. She was fired in February 2005, but
    the company’s probes into leaks didn’t stop there.Ms. Dunn has said my story
    and others that came later created a “fundamental distrust” on the
    board because it meant someone was speaking to the press when they shouldn’t
    have, making a leak investigation “necessary.” H-P recently said that
    its initial probe didn’t identify any leakers. The company said a second probe,
    done this year, identified one director, George Keyworth, who has since
    resigned, as a source for CNET, a technology-news Web site.I suddenly became
    aware of H-P’s machinations for the first time on the afternoon of Sept. 6.
    While I was working on a story on deadline, an email marked “urgent”
    plopped into my inbox. The message’s alarming subject line: “Investigation
    r.e. your phone records being illegally accessed.” The email was from an
    investigator in the California attorney general’s special-crimes unit, who
    called minutes later to tell me my phone records had been obtained by H-P.Over
    the next few weeks, information about H-P’s leak investigation emerged in dribs
    and drabs. I got an emailed apology from Ms. Dunn, the H-P chairman who
    continued the investigation. I often found myself reading about what H-P had
    done in press reports.At first, I thought the company had simply accessed a
    month’s worth of my phone records.But I grew more concerned as the scope of
    H-P’s tactics became clearer. I learned from documents released to Congress
    last month — but not by Mr. Schultz yesterday — that H-P’s investigative team
    unearthed factoids about myself that I never knew. In one PowerPoint slide
    prepared for Ms. Dunn, H-P’s team noted that I live precisely two miles away
    from former H-P director Mr. Keyworth. In another slide that mapped out — like
    a spider’s web — Mr. Keyworth’s relationships with the press and others, I
    learned that my real-estate agent, Mavis Delacroix, had once worked with his
    wife. When I called Ms. Delacroix to tell her that her name had popped up in
    H-P’s probe, she said: “I end up in the weirdest places.”H-P’s leak
    investigations first kicked off in early 2005. At that point, an H-P outside
    security consultant, Ronald DeLia, owner of Security Outsourcing Solutions,
    gave the names of several journalists, including mine, and former H-P
    executives to Action Research Group, a Melbourne, Fla., data brokerage firm,
    according to investigation documents released by Congress. Mr. DeLia asked
    Action Research Group to pull our telephone records, according to the
    documents.It isn’t clear how Mr. DeLia got our phone numbers. Mr. Schultz said
    my name came up as a target after Mr. DeLia’s firm reviewed thousands of
    articles on H-P and homed in on journalists who wrote about confidential H-P
    information citing unidentified sources. An attorney for Mr. DeLia didn’t
    return a call for comment. Mr. DeLia has been charged by the California
    attorney general in this case, and has pleaded not guilty. Action Research
    Group officials, one of whom has been charged by the California attorney
    general and has also pleaded not guilty, didn’t return a call for comment.By
    July 2005, H-P had compiled background on many of its subjects, including me,
    according to documents released by Congress last month. In an investigation
    summary, H-P listed my educational background, the date I joined The Wall
    Street Journal, and information about my husband. The document also notes that
    I made 78 phone calls from my cellphone between April 16, 2005, and June 16,
    2005. “An analysis of the subscribers of the 78 numbers is in
    progress,” the document says.That 2005 analysis, which H-P’s lawyer wasn’t
    able to provide me, probably yielded nothing more than a portrait of frenzied
    planning for my sisters’ weddings. At the time, my family had just finished the
    wedding preparations for one of my sisters and we were busy organizing a bridal
    shower for my other sister. That meant frequent phone calls to and from my
    mother.Still, H-P’s investigative team compiled information on me. In November
    2005, one of H-P’s then directors turned over voicemail messages I’d left him
    earlier that year, according to an email from H-P’s investigative team. That gave
    the company a record of my voice, which was stored away. Mr. Schultz, H-P’s
    outside lawyer, told me yesterday that such records were collected to provide
    “context,” in an attempt to link me to a source of the leaks.H-P’s
    probe ramped up again in January, after articles ran in The Wall Street Journal
    about H-P’s talks to acquire technology outsourcing and consulting firm
    Computer Sciences Corp. and after an article appeared on CNET about a board of
    directors’ retreat that same month. By late January, the second phase of the
    company’s investigation — known as Kona II — was in full swing. (The
    investigations were dubbed Kona by Ms. Dunn, who named the probes after the
    location of her Hawaiian vacation home.)That was when some of H-P’s creepiest
    incursions on me occurred. On Jan. 30, Security Outsourcing Solutions reported
    that a “pre-trash inspection survey is in progress for the Tam
    residence,” according to a document Mr. Schultz gave me yesterday. But
    there was more to the story: H-P investigation documents that Mr. Schultz
    didn’t provide me reveal that in early February H-P’s investigators also
    conducted “pre-surveillance reconnaissance” on directors and several
    journalists, including me.Mr. Schultz said it isn’t clear if H-P’s
    investigators actually went through my trash or just looked around my house.
    According to Ms. Keating, the security expert at IGI, terminology such as
    “pre-trash-inspection” typically means that investigators scoped out
    neighborhoods and office buildings and tried to figure out if the garbage was
    easily accessible — all in preparation for more-extensive digging-through at a
    later time.Trying to learn more about investigators’ tactics, I asked Francie
    Koehler, a licensed private investigator in Oakland, Calif., for the past 21
    years, to visit my neighborhood to give me tips on how such techniques might be
    carried out. This week, as she walked around my street, which is atop a small
    hill, Ms. Koehler thought it would be easy to stake out my house. There are
    plenty of parking spots on the hill where one can get a clear view of my home
    through a car’s rearview mirror, she said. Since I’m not on a cul-de-sac, it
    would also be easy for an observer to get away, she added. And because we bring
    down our recycling to the curb every Monday, Ms. Koehler says, it is legal for
    someone to rifle through some of the trash. “That’s all fair play,”
    she said.


    H-P didn’t just plan to infiltrate
    my neighborhood, however. According to the documents released by Congress, in
    one PowerPoint slide from February — which was, again, missing from Mr.
    Schultz’s briefing yesterday — H-P investigators proposed sending in their
    team to pose as cleaning crew members or clerical staff in The Wall Street
    Journal’s and CNET’s San Francisco offices. Mr. Schultz said that as far as he
    knows, “that was never done.”By mid-February 2006, H-P had obtained
    my cellphone records for mid-December 2005 through mid-January 2006, Mr.
    Schultz told me. H-P’s investigators later accessed my cellphone records for
    February and my home-phone records for January and February, he said.H-P now
    had printouts of names and numbers of people I called. From these records,
    copies of which Mr. Schultz gave me, H-P discovered that of the 25 calls I made
    from my cellphone between mid-December and mid-January, I called home 20 times.
    In other records, H-P’s investigators highlighted calls I made to current and
    former H-P executives, as well as calls I was making to my editors in San
    Francisco and New York. Twice, H-P saw that I called my insurance company. They
    saw that I often called my sister.Among the calls H-P’s investigators saw were
    those I made to sources for other stories I was reporting for the Journal –
    including sources at H-P competitors. One call was to Marlene Somsak, a former
    H-P media-relations executive who now works at H-P competitor Palm Inc. H-P’s
    phone records list Ms. Somsak’s name and address. Ms. Somsak declined to
    comment. The list provided by Mr. Schultz also shows reporting calls I made to
    Lucasfilm Ltd. and the San Francisco Police Department. A spokeswoman for
    Lucasfilm declined to comment.H-P’s briefing of its spying on me is mum about
    other events around February 2006. Mr. Schultz had no information, for example,
    on how the H-P investigative team handed out a photo of me and a description of
    my car to their surveillance teams — something that a congressional
    subcommittee has now made public. It’s unclear where they got the information.
    H-P began researching my husband and whether he had any relationships with H-P
    directors and others — work that was “90% complete” at the time,
    according to a note in a February document.Also missing from Mr. Schultz’s
    briefing was H-P’s snooping on my instant messaging. In February, H-P’s
    investigative team focused on my communications with one of their own
    media-relations executives, Mike Moeller, whom I frequently talked to as part
    of our jobs. That was when they accessed our instant messages, which generally
    included witty repartee such as the following transcript that H-P had in its
    files: Me: Nice results (for H-P’s financial quarter). Mr. Moeller: Real nice.
    Nice guidance. Me: Yup.


    Mr. Moeller declined to comment.

    also attempted to catch me talking to sources. In a March email from then H-P
    chief ethics officer Kevin Hunsaker, who helped direct the H-P investigation,
    Mr. Hunsaker asks one of his investigators: “Can you please do some
    monitoring on incoming and outgoing calls to Pui-Wing Tam, and keep a really
    close eye on her IM traffic with Moeller. There is going to be a special telephonic
    board meeting next Tuesday to discuss a very important topic…this is yet
    another major opportunity for a leak to occur.” Mr. Schultz didn’t include
    this email, which H-P released to Congress, in his briefing with me. An
    attorney for Mr. Hunsaker declined to comment. Mr. Hunsaker has been charged by
    the California attorney general, but hasn’t formally entered a plea.In March, a
    man whom the California attorney general has identified as Bryan Wagner of
    Littleton, Colo., allegedly used the last four digits of my Social Security
    number and my home phone number to set up an AT&T online account for my
    local phone service. Mr. Wagner has worked for Action Research Group, according
    to the California attorney general. Using that account, Mr. Wagner appears to have
    accessed some of my phone records, according to the state attorney general’s
    criminal complaint. It’s unclear how Mr. Wagner may have gotten my Social
    Security number, but H-P’s outside attorney Mr. Schultz said there appear to be
    databases where Social Security numbers can be accessed.Mr. Wagner, whom the
    California attorney general filed felony charges against this month, didn’t
    return a call seeking comment. His attorney also declined to comment. Mr.
    Wagner has pleaded not guilty.Even as late as April, H-P was conducting
    “surveillance” of me. Around April 3, Security Outsourcing Solutions
    reported that an investigator traveled to a San Francisco hotel to attend a
    dinner reception where then-H-P director Tom Perkins was making a speech. The
    investigator was asked to look out for whether I would show up at the event –
    which I didn’t. A few days later, Security Outsourcing Solutions reported
    looking out for me at an H-P conference in Los Angeles. (I was a no-show).
    H-P’s probes wrapped up around this time, according to the California attorney
    general’s investigators.Since then, H-P officials have apologized repeatedly
    for the investigations. Mr. Hurd apologized in a news conference and before
    Congress. Ms. Dunn emailed all nine journalists who were under scrutiny a
    similar apology. (In the copy she sent me, my name was written in a different
    font from the rest of the message.) Yesterday in the conference room, it was
    the turn of Cathy Lyons, H-P’s chief marketing officer. “I apologize on
    behalf of H-P,” she said.