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Apple CEO Tim Cook Blames FBI Incompetence for Creating Encrypted iPhone Standoff

In a Wednesday interview on ABC’s World News Tonight, Apple CEO Tim Cook stood by his guns in refusing the FBI demand to unlock the iPhone of San Bernardino jihadi Syed Farook.  He faulted the FBI for mishandling the phone and failing to communicate with Apple effectively.

He also said the government was being dishonest in portraying the unlocking of Farook’s phone as a one-time special situation and framed the conflict as a battle over basic civil liberties, which he says the government is attacking, instead of protecting.

In a transcript provided by Newsbusters, Cook said of his company’s refusal to comply with the FBI demand: “Some things are hard, and some things are right. And some things are both. This is one of those things.”

Cook hammered the FBI for fumbling the cell phone situation and failing to bring Apple experts in early, when there was a chance to recover Farook’s data without creating the “skeleton key” the Bureau now desires.

“Unfortunately, in the days, the early days of the investigation, an FBI,  FBI directed the county to reset the iCloud password,” the Apple CEO explained.  “When that is done, the phone will no longer back up to the cloud, and so, I wish they would have contacted us earlier, so that that would not have been the case.”

Cook is referring to actions taken on December 6, when the FBI asked a San Bernardino county technician to reset the password on the phone — which was a work phone owned by the county, not Farook’s personal device.  At the time, FBI experts expressed skepticism that they could obtain the information they wanted from the iCloud backup.

The FBI continues to deny that resetting the password was a mistake, as Cook portrays it.  In the World News Tonight segment, Cook told interviewer David Muir it was a “very crucial missed opportunity” and insisted resetting the password was directly contrary to advice Apple technicians gave the FBI.

Cook said he was disappointed at the lack of coordination between the Obama Administration and Apple, noting that his company was never even formally notified about the court filing that ordered them to create a special hackable operating system.  “We found out about this filing from the press,” he said.

“Uh, do I think it’s limited? No,” he said in response to White House statements that the skeleton key demand would be limited in scope.

That isn’t really a matter of opinion, since we have learned this week that the Justice Department has at least nine more iPhones lined up for Apple to crack.  The company asserts that federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies have “hundreds of iPhones they want Apple to unlock if the FBI wins this case.”

On World News Tonight, Cook said Apple has been placed in a “very uncomfortable position.”

“To oppose your government on something doesn’t feel good,” he said.  “And to oppose it on something where we are advocating for civil liberties – which they are supposed to protect – it is incredibly ironic.”

That’s an interesting combination of idealism and naivete.  Cook is correct about the intended role of government, especially the mighty federal government, as defender of civil liberties, but it abandoned that role a long time ago, and is now extremely comfortable trampling such liberties in the name of politically correct causes.

Vigilante groups, notably including big tech corporations, have followed the Leviathan State’s lead, assaulting the civil liberties of dissenters with abandon.  The American public has been socially engineered into viewing civil liberties as negotiable goods, not absolute rights.  They have been taught to haggle over the price of surrendering liberty to allegedly higher causes, rather than absolutely refusing to cede important ground, as Apple now professes to do, in refusing the court order to open Farook’s iPhone.

It’s a pity Cook slept through nightmarish assaults on civil liberty like ObamaCare and didn’t wake up until he personally was inconvenienced by an overbearing demand — made in the name of national security, the very last thing fashionable liberals give a damn about — but hey: Welcome to the party, pal.

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