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Congressman John D. Dingell

US Congress Seal

Serving Michigan's 15th Congressional District

NEWS RELEASE Contact: Adam Benson/Kimberlee Trzeciak
Thursday, September 28, 2006   202/225-4071 (office)
    202/271-8587 (cell)

Dingell Condemns Executives During Congressional Hearings on Hewlett-Packard Pretexting

Washington, DC - Congressman John D. Dingell (D-MI15), the Ranking Democrat of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, made the following remarks during today's hearing by the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations concerning Hewlett-Packard's Pretexting Scandal:

"Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing. We have before us witnesses from Hewlett-Packard to discuss a plumbers' operation that would make Richard Nixon blush were he still alive. And calling folks who did this, or allowed this, "Keystone Kops" is an insult to the original Keystone Kops.

"Hewlett-Packard, a company well respected in the Halls of Congress and around the globe, appears before us today to answer for using lies and deceptions to obtain telephone records and other sensitive personal information in order to uncover the source of leaks to the press. I have to ask our witnesses, 'What were you thinking?'

--Where was management while this investigation was running amok?
Why weren't you paying attention at briefings and why didn't you read the reports that raised red flags?

--Where was the board of directors? I understand board leaks can undermine a company's planning and curtail the frankness of board discussions. But the cure, in this case, was far worse than the disease, and now poses a far greater threat to Hewlett-Packard. Where was board leadership and responsibility?

--Where were the lawyers? There were red flags waving all over the place, raising questions about the illegality of pretexting. But none of the lawyers stepped up to their responsibilities.

"Unfortunately, Congress has not stepped up either. What happened to the Committee's legislation, HR 4943, the Prevention of Fraudulent Access to Phone Records Act? That bill would allow the Federal Trade Commission to seek civil penalties against pretexters, and provide expanded protections to customer call records. On May 2, 2006, this bill was scheduled for consideration on the floor of the House of Representatives. It was pulled from the Suspension Calendar, without explanation, and has not been seen nor heard from since. Who did it, and why?

"Also, no one in the Administration is stepping up either. I submitted questions for the record of this Subcommittee's June 21, 2006, hearing, seeking comments from Executive Branch homeland security and law enforcement agencies on how the bill could be changed to meet any concerns they might have. I have been informed that the response is being held up by the Office of Management and Budget. Why can't I get answers?

"I commend the Chairman of the Subcommittee for holding two days of hearings on this important issue. But hearings will be a poor substitute if the Committee's bill remains in legislative limbo."

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