Move over, CIA: here comes HP

Does the name Kurt Eichenwald ring a bell?He's the New York Times reporter who, before, during and after the Enron trial, helped inform the nation about the shenanigans at the ill-fated utility.

Does the name Kurt Eichenwald ring a bell?

He's the New York Times reporter who, before, during and after the Enron trial, helped inform the nation about the shenanigans at the ill-fated utility.

When Eichenwald reports something, I believe it.

Even if what he is reporting is unbelievable.

Like, for example, the well-sourced assertion in today's paper that to investigate the source of leaks from the Board of Directors, HP "conducted feasibility studies on planting spies in news bureaus" of The Wall Street Journal and of CNET.

ZDNet is part of CNET.

Eichenwald and article co-author Damon Darlin wrote it is not clear whether the plan detailed in these documents- which was read to one of them, ever was placed into action.

But this, they do know:

"The report was sent on Feb. 1 by Anthony R. Gentilucci, Hewlett-Packard’s Boston-based manager of global investigations, to four others, including Kevin T. Hunsaker, a senior counsel in Hewlett-Packard’s legal department and the company’s chief ethics officer," Eichenwald and Darlin write.

The Times article then quotes from the memo, stating that “feasibility studies are in progress for undercover operations (clerical) in CNET and WSJ offices in SF bureaus."

The memo also contained a section calling for "examining the use of cleaning employees at those locations."

Then Eichenwald and Darlin added that another, undated document, believed to be a briefing for HP chair Patricia Dunn, made reference to plans concerning “'placement of agent in close proximity to person of interest.' ”

I'll say it again, Patricia Dunn. It's not that CNET and HP reporters kidnapped one of your Board members and pumped him with truth serum. Nor was he subjected to Guantanamo interrogation techniques. If, in fact, a Board member chooses to contact a journalist and wants to talk, we aren't going to say, "but did you check with your Chairman first?

That's not our job. But I will tell you what's yours. If you can't trust your own Board members, your job is to select Board members you can trust- an inculcate a corporate culture of confidentiality AND loyalty.