Carly Fiorina on giving HP servers to NSA: ‘I felt it was my duty’

Fiorina didn’t think twice when the NSA came knocking.

Former HP CEO and Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina says she felt obligated to hand over servers to the NSA to carry out an illegal Bush administration surveillance program.

“I felt it was my duty to help, and so we did,” Fiorina told Yahoo! News Monday, referring to her compliance with a request for servers from Michael Hayden, the director of the National Security Agency at the time.

Fiorina was CEO of HP from 1995 to 2005, during which time she oversaw the company’s ill-fated acquisition of HP’s rival Compaq and approved controversial layoffs of 30,000 employees.

The NSA was “ramping up a whole set of programs and needed a lot of data crunching capability to try and monitor a whole set of threats,” Fiorina said. “What I knew at the time was our nation had been attacked.”

The NSA needed the new servers for the warrantless domestic surveillance program it operated from 2001 to 2007, part of a larger initiative codenamed “Stellar Wind.” Congress gave the program legal cover in 2008, but multiple federal courts have ruled that the program violated the Constitution.

Fiorina told Yahoo that she wasn’t “aware of” evidence showing that NSA surveillance had gone too far, despite multiple court rulings to that effect, including one from a federal appeals court that said it “exceeds the scope of what Congress has authorized.” Regarding the NSA’s massive new data center in Utah, Fiorina said that “many people will be reassured” when they learn more about it, although it is unclear to what new details she could be referring.

Hayden said that he made the request for servers by telling Fiorina, “Carly, I need stuff and I need it now.”

Fiorina later served on an external CIA advisory board, having been appointed by Hayden after he took over the agency in 2006.

Among the advice Fiorina that gave the CIA was to turn an employee who had overseen the agency’s torture program into a public spokesman for the CIA’s efforts to fight terrorism. In the Yahoo interview, Fiorina also defended the use of torture techniques like waterboarding, despite a Senate Intelligence Committee report showing that the CIA repeated lied about the efficacy of the techniques.

H/T Yahoo News | Photo via Michael Vadon/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

Eric Geller

Eric Geller

Eric Geller is a politics reporter who focuses on cybersecurity, surveillance, encryption, and privacy. A former staff writer at the Daily Dot, Geller joined Politico in June 2016, where he's focused on policymaking at the White House, the Justice Department, the State Department, and the Commerce Department.