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Today we learned that HP really was as dysfunctional at it seemed to be. Or at least that's the story the company wants the public to believe. Better dumb than calculating.

It has emerged that a couple of people at this company so full of integrity actually thought the fraud was a bad idea. HP's computer security investigators Fred Adler and Vince Nye warned their managers about the suspect investigatory techniques and suggested that HP could be really, really embarrassed if word of the probe tactics leaked to the press.

Of course, Dunn and Hurd deny ever hearing about such nonsense.

"The first time I learned that an employee had expressed concerns was from my lawyer this morning who had read it in the Washington Post," Dunn said.

These types of gaps in HP's story infuriated the subcommittee members. Dunn spearheaded the investigation but didn't manage it. The managers thought some things might be suspect but decided they were probably okay in the end. Hurd got tons of information on the probe, but was too busy to read it - or remember it.

According to today's testimony, HP sought only once to confirm that the "pretexting" methods being used to obtain phone logs were legal. The confirmation came from one of the companies HP hired for the investigation and was penned by a clerk.

It's remarkable to witness the supposed lack of curiosity HP executives had for how the phone records were obtained. Dunn, as reported, claims to have thought it just one of those things to have someone ring up and get your phone records. No big deal. Meanwhile, Hurd, and others, didn't hear about the pretexting until it was too late, and it took Hurd "three weeks" to fully digest that the practice might be "wrong."

The HP crowd keep pretending like pretexting/fraud is a really tough concept to digest.

In addition, they all admit that sending a fake e-mail to a reporter was unethical and that they won't do it again. At the time, however, it seemed like a fine idea to everyone. Have their moral fibers really undergone such an amazing overhaul in the month of September?

For those keeping track, HP has now lost the three board members it trusted most - Dunn, Tom Perkins and George Keyworth. It was that threesome that picked Hurd to be the company's new CEO. In addition, its lead counsel is gone, another top lawyer is gone, its security chief (Hurd said the position is open, so send your resume) is gone and its Chairman is gone.

Top all that off with Dunn's repeated finger pointing at HP veteran and CFO Bob Wayman as the man who advised her on how to handle the mole probe, and you've got a real catastrophe.

And how has Hurd been punished for mishandling the investigation and mishandling the crisis that followed? With a promotion. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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