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HP's Dunn as Newsweek Cover Girl 198

theodp writes "In The Boss Who Spied on Her Board, Newsweek likens HP Chairwoman Pattie Dunn's attempts to escape culpability with her I-knew-nothing defense to both a head of state, who wants 'plausible deniability' while ordering an assassination plot, and to Henry II, who had the Archbishop of Canterbury removed by simply muttering 'Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?' in front of his knights."
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HP's Dunn as Newsweek Cover Girl

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  • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @03:17PM (#16076953)
    This is slashdot. Please do not cite movie-style 'head of state asks-without-asking for an assination mission' analogies, or refer to centuries-old British church smack-downs. If you can't describe this in terms of chair throwing, iPod-killing, or some form of infringement, the message is lost.
    • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <> on Sunday September 10, 2006 @03:22PM (#16076974) Homepage

      ...or refer to centuries-old British church smack-downs.

      The killing of Thomas Becket is retold in T.S. Eliot's first play Murder in the Cathedral [] . Granted, such literature is far removed from iPods and knocking on Microsoft, but the play is performed--and assigned in college lit classes--often enough that I imagine many people will know something of that historical event.

      • by Artifakt ( 700173 ) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @05:51PM (#16077553)
        And the American prosecuters at Nuremburg referred to the "troublesome priest" phrase repeatedly in trying the Nazi war criminals, and so people should encounter it not just in lit or ancient history but in modern history, philosophy or ethics. It's actually pretty common, and if you didn't hear it in such classes, you can safely assume you didn't get your money's worth on college. (If you didn't have to take ANY of those classes, congratulations on your Engineering/CS degree, and I hope you got some of this sort of thing on your own.). Many people know that "I was just following orders" is considered a pretty crappy excuse, but many of them don't understand the other half of that is "My underlings misinterpreted my orders.", and it is equally inexcusable.
              Note: I have not compared HP's management to the Nazis, except in that some people seem to be adopting the same "They misinterpreted me/I was just following orders" BS when they got caught at something. Anyone who thinks I just Godwinned the thread does not understand Godwin, but if you want to mod me down anyway, go right ahead.
        • Well said, in fact under the UCMJ a soldier MUST disobey an illegal order (aka shoot the prisoners). So even in the Military following orders in NO EXCUSE.
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by fishbowl ( 7759 )

            >Well said, in fact under the UCMJ a soldier MUST disobey an illegal order (aka shoot the prisoners).

            I've known former soldiers who have reported different experiences with this. Some, including an officer who had graduated from the US Military Academy, told me about drills that were more-or-less routine, where illegal orders would be given (with relatively mundane consequences) and if the cadet followed the order, he would have faile the test and would be disciplined for it.

            Others have told me that the
          • I would like to respond to this:

            I spent 20 years in the Marines. If an enlisted man did refuse an illegal, direct order from a superior officer, the chances are about 95% he would still go to jail, even if false charges for another crime had to fabricated. The officer might face a 20% chance of incarceration himself or letter of reprimand. Rest assured, however, the enlisted man would suffer more. The military is not about to let enlisted men think they can get away with evaluating every order they rece
            • I was not referring to JUST ANY ORDER. You are told by your CO to shoot innocent civilians or to steal or to rape as "payback". Do you follow the orders and let the Court Martial sort it out??? Last I looked the only penalty for Murder as a Soldier is Death.
      • by gidds ( 56397 )
        Well, quite. It's even mentioned (and replayed []) in the first Blackadder series.

    • Would this be ok? Its almost when Kirk thinks that he is going to duel spock over some vulcan ass.
    • by HerrEkberg ( 971000 ) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @03:26PM (#16076990) Homepage
      Will no one rid me of this troublesome chair?
  • Ugh. (Score:5, Funny)

    by writermike ( 57327 ) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @03:21PM (#16076968)

    Ugh. Too many words. It's much easier for me to buy another brand until this calms down.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 10, 2006 @03:26PM (#16076996)
    What the hell is Liza Minnelli [] doing in a story about HP?
    • by Otter ( 3800 )
      That was my first thought too, upon reading the MSNBC link.

      My second thought, after reading the first paragraph, was that HP is lucky the story didn't turn out to be "HP Director Decapitates Chairman With Radio-Controlled Helicopter".

  • Hey (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 10, 2006 @03:41PM (#16077054)
    Does anybody have a stream of today's emergency board meeting?

    The equipment is in place, isn't it?
  • Turbulent (Score:5, Informative)

    by trewornan ( 608722 ) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @03:56PM (#16077096)
    If you're going to quote someone at least get it right, Beckett was a "turbulent" priest not a "troublesome" one.
    • Re:Turbulent (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 10, 2006 @05:02PM (#16077338)
      Sources disagree as to what Henry II said to make a group of knights think that killing Thomas Becket was something their king was ordering them to do. There seem to be a number of popular variations, including "turbulent," "troublesome," "meddlesome," "low-born," and a bunch of statements which are nothing like the most common form. Given the lack of reliable contemporary accounts, along with the tendency following the incident to lionize Becket and blame Henry for the whole thing, any quote of what Henry II said to set those knight dudes off must be considered apocryphal.
    • Re:Turbulent (Score:4, Insightful)

      by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @07:36PM (#16077874) Homepage
      First of all, it comes as no surprise to me that there is some debate as to the actual phrase. You should be really really careful when you correct somebody over a trivial matter because more often than not, you're running headlong into a tangential nerd-cliff where everybody stops looking at the forest and starts arguing over one leaf on one tree in that forest.

      Nobody ever said Let them eat cake [] either, but correcting somebody when they utter those words to illustrate a point is about as pedantic as you can be. If the meaning of the phrase is retained, and the message is succinctly conveyed, what the hell is so important about the words unless you're quoting them with the actual intention of accurate archival?
  • Nothing new here. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 10, 2006 @04:02PM (#16077116)
    Back in the 1960s a friend's dad got a job as head of an important government office. The people working for him were at the director level so the case is somewhat similar. Everyone had an intercom on their desks so they could do things like calling their secretaries in to take dictation etc. Buddy's dad found that the intercoms were wired so his predecessor could listen in to whatever was happening in any of the other offices. It wasn't an accident, they were deliberately wired the way they were. To his credit, he had them reverted to normal operation.

    Powerful people got where they are by knowing what is going on around them. There are other powerful people trying to subvert them and get their jobs. Machiavelli described the process and nothing has changed since then. They used to use spies. Now they use wiretaps.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 10, 2006 @04:13PM (#16077155)
    Something really smells about the press coverage on this. It all seems to pain Perkins as such a good, likeable, ethical person who resigned from the board. And yet, last week I saw a single quote from Dunn which stated that Perkins played a key role in starting this investigation. Curiously, I don't see this statement repeated in other press coverage. But it is extremely telling, if true.

    I'm not defending Dunn here. I'm just saying to take any of this "news" which is so glowing about Perkins with a large grain of salt. Perkins is quite powerful in Silicon Valley. And all of this just smells of his propaganda, designed to paint him in the best light possible.

    • perkins was on the board in charge of overseeing ethics issues for board members. Dunn, the legal consul, and HP investigators went "over his head" to rat out the leaker, because bringing it up to the full board and board's overseers wasn't working. So they called in a private firm.. and the private firm called in the "rats" to dig up dirt. It's no different that what workman's comp, insurance fraud, bill collectors, etc. investigators do on a daily basis. It's a fine line to walk but the line is more
      • by sphealey ( 2855 )
        > It's a fine line to walk but the line is more
        > "grey" for private individuals than for law
        > enforcement. It's dirty, underhanded, but
        > the guy was basicly selling secrets to see
        > the public go his way in board discussions.

        For a member of a Board of Directors to talk to the press, even against the wishes of his fellow board members, is probably not illegal (consult your securities lawyer for full details), possibly not wrong in an ethical sense depending on the circumstances, and at worst ca
        • there was no improper access of records to get 99% of the personal info.. that was on file. That's what HP gave the investigators to work on. The only infraction was the "pretexting" everything else was perfectly legal... that's why I keep saying it's a minor thing because while it makes the case, there's implicit agreement for employees to be "spied" on, yep you gave it all away when you signed you app. So if the company needs to "phreak" to access info you've already approved it's "grey".. obviously the
          • by Builder ( 103701 )
            I'm not sure where you work, but I have NEVER given permission to an employer or potential employer to investigate any of my activities outside of work.

            I consent to having my computer usage and e-mails monitored, as well as all phone calls on company property recorded (FSA requirement). But I do not and never will consent to having anything outside of work investigated, monitored or data mined, implicitly or otherwise.

            Please back this statement up with a contract excerpt, not because I don't believe you, bu
          • by sphealey ( 2855 )
            > there was no improper access of records to get 99% of
            > the personal info.. that was on file. That's what HP
            > gave the investigators to work on. The only infraction
            > was the "pretexting" everything else was perfectly legal...
            > that's why I keep saying it's a minor thing because while
            > it makes the case, there's implicit agreement for
            > employees to be "spied" on, yep you gave it all away when
            > you signed you app. So if the company needs to "phreak" to
            > access info you've already
  • The Black Adder! It's depressing that I remember more history from The Black Adder than years of public education in the UK. One of the best comedy series ever!
  • Wire taps?? Spying on reporters? Sounds like the tactics used in the 'War On Terrorism'©.

    Only disloyal HP customers or stock holders would dare questions the tactics of the Chairman Of The Board.
  • this is just sad (Score:5, Interesting)

    by iritant ( 156271 ) <.lear. .at.> on Sunday September 10, 2006 @04:47PM (#16077267) Homepage
    Having lived in the Valley for nearly 20 year I spent most of my adult life hearing the legend of Hewlett and Packard. And these two men meant a lot to the Valley. They gave generously and their foundations continue to do so. Between the Children's Wing of the Stanford Hospital to MBARI to the vintage movie in Palo Alto to public radio, these people and their money have done quite a lot of good. HP as a company back then was a fine establishment, and while today I'm sure there are fine people there, I bet both men would be rolling in their graves.

    And so it's just sad to see their legacy trashed. I can't say why, but from the moment the board picked Carly Fiorina, things just went south. I am not an HP shareholder. I don't think I could be one until everyone on the current board was gone. If you are a shareholder, that should bother you, because I'm sure I'm not alone.

    Were I a shareholder, I would propose that not a single member of the board stand for re-election, so that after some period of time a new board would run the company.
  • by The Second Horseman ( 121958 ) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @04:50PM (#16077276)
    Spy on a large customer that might be planning to jump to another vendor for major IT services? Spy on business partners or VARs? Flat out, the reason there are so many leaks surrounding HP is that the behavior (starting during Fiorina's reign) of the management and the board was terrible. Of course there were leaks. It's the only way to ever put the brakes on the amoral behavior of scumbags like these. The way they've been treaing people for years? Of course there are disgruntled people leaking information. They're lucky it hasn't been worse. I expect, now that Dunn has been wounded finding the leaker, the board's going to have to pull an "Old Yeller" and get her off before everyone else is contaminated. It may be too late, though.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 10, 2006 @04:53PM (#16077292)
    If private investigators are acting illegally, they are the ones whose names should be known. They are the ones who are supposed to go to jail, and lose their licenses.

    Private investigators ARE licensed. They ARE supposed to act WITHIN the law. If any company chooses to hire licensed private investigators, then it's understandable that you assume this, i.e. don't necessarily need to ask questions about their precise methods.

    Who were these so-called private investigators? Is this is the first time these private investigators have broken the law in order to get a paycheck? Who were their other clients prior to their HP contract? If the P.I.'s were ordered to do something illegal, why didn't they object?

    Why aren't the journalists focusing on them?

  • by rking ( 32070 ) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @05:05PM (#16077349)
    Right at the end of the (7 page) article:

    Update: A source close to Hewlett-Packard tells Newsweek that HP's emergency board meeting was adjourned late in the afternoon on Sunday (ET) without any decision being reached on the possible resignation of Patricia Dunn as chairman. The source, who requested anonymity because of the confidentiality of internal board proceedings, said the HP board would reconvene late Monday afternoon.

    So I guess they're still leaking :)
  • "Dirty deeds, Dunn da chief." (Apologies to AC/DC.)
  • I hear nussing, I see nussing, I know nussing!
  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @06:24PM (#16077653) Homepage Journal
    The senior ranks of large corporations have been the hotbeds (literally) of skullduggery for as long as there have been power mad underlings. Bill Agee at Allied Signal in the '80's was banging his investment banker on the deal for a hostile buyout of another company. Maurice Greenberg at AIG was bribing everyone he could. Most of the heads at Wall St. firms in the last 25 years have been replaced by being arrested or threatened with lawsuits. Tyco? MCI? The great hdge fund meltdown of 2004-5?
  • The only "cover" story I'd expect is of her being kicked off the board and position. Of course I bet other board members will not do that fearing some retaliation from her.
    How stupid should one be to claim ignorance of methods of information gathering after requesting investigation of leaks (and phone calls)? Did she subcontracted a group of mediums, who could read everyone's phone bills remotely? Or hoped that investigative company will promise to kill a puppy unless board leaker comes forward or gives a c

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