Behind FBI’s Data-Access Fight with Apple

Knowing even a little of James Comey’s post 9/11 background, it becomes
rather hard to believe the FBI Director is sincerely leveling with the American
public in his
latest quest to compel Apple
(and other encrypted communication companies)
to create a mechanism for government access, that he is solely motivated by
his desire to “look
the (San Bernardino) survivors in the eye
” and tell them the FBI has
followed up on all investigative leads.

It should be recalled that Comey gained his reputation for legal integrity
based on one dramatic night (in March 2004), during his 20 months as deputy
attorney general, confronting Bush Administration officials in Attorney General
John Ashcroft’s hospital room. Even though almost no one understood “what
the Ashcroft ‘hospital showdown’ on NSA spying was all about”
until a couple weeks after Comey was confirmed as FBI Director in July 2013
– see this
that seems to finally piece it all together – it was known that
no Justice Department official, including Comey, generally opposed the illegal
warrantless monitoring program that went into effect just days after the 9/11

Except for a few whistleblowers, the only internal debate that developed was
how to do it. In addition to the illegal “Presidential
Program” monitoring of Americans, Comey supported and signed off on the
George W. Bush Administration’s torture tactics as well as years-long
indefinite detentions that denied some American citizens their right to counsel
and other constitutional rights.

But Comey’s reputation as a man of law, albeit mostly false, preceded
him. Other than some grilling about the torture he had approved of, almost none
of the hard questions I suggested in this New
York Times
opinion piece
for Judiciary Committee senators were asked
of Comey during his Senate confirmation hearings. Maybe Apple could still ask
him some of them!


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