FBI fakes broad public support for it's fight with Apple as a greater spying initiative is revealed.

FBI director James Comey has been amplifying his efforts to gain a winning edge in his public battle to force Apple to write specialized software for cracking iPhones. Although most of the tech industry has publicly lined up aside Apple, Comey found a friend in Bill Gates and a lackey at the Pew Foundation to try and spin the conversation. The conversation about an effective right to privacy is one that Comey has been planning for years ahead of action that the White House has been planning to take.

On Saturday February 19, Bloomberg News quoted but did not post a secret National Security Council memorandum that instructed various agencies to “developing encryption workarounds, estimating additional budgets and identifying laws that may need to be changed.” The memo formalized a meeting between agencies heads at the White House that happened sometime around Thanksgiving. Comey's attack on Apple predates that formal initiative by more than a year.

Comey began as Apple announced the new iPhone features in 2014. This lead to a press conference on September 24 at FBI Headquarters during which Comey castigated both Apple and Google not just for the capabilities of their new devices, but their marketing of those capabilities. As reported in the Huffington Post "Google is marketing their Android the same way: Buy our phone and law-enforcement, even with legal process, can never get access to it," he said.

Comey followed that speech up with another delivered at defense security conference sponsored by the Brookings Institution. That second speech, posted on October 16 2014 to the FBI's website, is riddled with statements that are outright lies. Comey said, for instance, “In the wake of the Snowden disclosures, the prevailing view is that the government is sweeping up all of our communications. That is not true.”

He followed on with “Some believe that the FBI has these phenomenal capabilities to access any information at any time—that we can get what we want, when we want it, by flipping some sort of switch.” The lie contained in his statement is that there is fact a switch. The switch is called Xkeyscore and pictures of the switch are in the public domain. Edward Snowden disclosed on twitter that the FBI has access to that NSA manufactured switch earlier this week.

What Comey is complaining about is the FBI's ease of access to a broad category of devices. What he wishes Apple to create is something that would unlock all iPhones. He has not of course mentioned that such a program could be remotely installed by the FBI without a search warrant.

Since battering down public resistance to being watched every minute of every day is White House policy, a broad sketch of how to proceed with the public dialogue was already in place. The plans were made during Thanksgiving and a platform built of victim's corpses arrived in time for Christmas. Comey's 2014 Brookings institution speech foreshadowed this “Are we so mistrustful of government—and of law enforcement—that we are willing to let bad guys walk away...willing to leave victims in search of justice?” The bad guys in this case are not walking. They are dead. The speech was full of allusions too and cases of child abuse and pornography, subjects guaranteed to give one's heart strings a tug.

With Comey cynically tugging heart strings years ago, invoking victims after the San Bernardino shooting is an obvious go to tactic. In order to manufacture headlines that line up the families of the victims behind the FBI, the US attorney's office solicited Stephen Larson to file a Friend of the Court brief on their behalf on February 14. Prior to being asked by the government Larson did not represent the victims. Prior to being in private practice, Larson was the Federal District Judge for San Bernardino and thus is the former boss of Magistrate Pym who ordered Apple to comply. Larson will not say how many of the victims he represents, cynically citing privacy. He represented no one until asked by his former boss, Comey, who was acting Attorney General when Larson was appointed to the bench.

As the tech industry lined up to say no, Bill Gates said yes. Then he retracted and said maybe. The press failed to notice that Microsoft under Gates was one of the most enthusiastic violators of privacy on the secret police state's behalf. Microsoft purposely engineered additional backdoors into Skype. Skype was not the only product that Gates provided greater access to. Microsoft uses this access for it's own ends to a degree that the German government considers it's products insecure.

Meanwhile the Pew Center did a survey that claimed a thin majority of Americans are on the FBI's side. This poll is parroted by the media with greater volume than than an identical Reuters poll which says the opposite. Reuters is not owned by Microsoft. The Pew Center's governing board of directors contains Duncan Watts who is a principal researcher at Microsoft Research and formerly an officer in the Royal Australian Navy.

The San Bernardino iPhone was caused to be unrecoverable locked by the FBI in order to pick a public fight with Apple that has been planned at the top of the FBI for years and in the Oval office for months. Persons wanting to discuss privacy issues and human rights with the government as part of President Obama's national dialogue can call their mothers. James Comey will be leaning in and actively listening.

Date Originally Published: 
Thursday, February 25, 2016
Gerry Bello