US presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina has boasted that HP sold the NSA servers that allowed the agency to build a system for mass surveillance.
Servers originally earmarked for retail customers were shipped to the NSA instead, to power a warrantless surveillance programme codenamed “Stellar Wind”, approved by then-president George W Bush in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
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Former NSA director Michael Hayden contacted then-HP boss Fiorina with an urgent request for kit in the weeks after 9/11.
Fiorina mentioned the sale in a recent interview, whilst defending the Bush administration's still-controversial programmes.
Fiorina – HP’s chief exec from 1999 to 2005 – framed in patriotic terms the server giant's fulfillment of NSA's requests by preempting other customers'.
“I felt it was my duty to help, and so we did,” Fiorina told investigative reporter Michael Isikoff. “They were ramping up a whole set of programmes and needed a lot of data crunching capability to try and monitor a whole set of threats ... What I knew at the time was our nation had been attacked.”
Fiorina is pitching an increase in military spending as part of her bid for the Republican nomination in the 2016 US presidential election. The former Lucent and HP supremo led the Central Intelligence Agency's External Advisory Board from 2007 to 2009, during Hayden’s four-year tenure as CIA director.
Fiorina continues to defend the CIA’s controversial use of waterboarding during so-called “enhanced” interrogations of terrorist suspects.
Stellar Wind involved the data mining of US communications databases, including email, telephone conversations, financial transactions and internet surfing. The programme came be viewed as a precursor to PRISM. ®