We here as a community at Techdirt are quite familiar with all of this. We even have a name for it, thanks to Bruce Schneier: "security theatre". It's the same performance on a different stage.
Law enforcement providing the illusion that they're "doing something". And nobody in the press or the public is going to revisit this in a year to see the fruits of the state's labor. As a resident of Florida, I see it all too often coming from Polk County's finest and the infamous Grady Judd.
I would love to see John Oliver and the crew at Last Week Tonight do a piece on this. It seems right up their alley.
Are you listening, John?!? (flushing jokes withheld)
"We know there are great people in the DoJ and the FBI. We work shoulder to shoulder with them all the time. That's why this cheap shot brief surprises us so much. We help when we're asked to. We're honest about what we can and cannot do."
This is the great duality of any government entity. The "great people" he refers to are the boots on the ground, agents that do all of the heavy lifting within both the DOJ and the FBI. They are the end nodes on the organizational chart, if they even show up there at all.
After you elevate past a certain level, you cease to find useful people, and start coming across bureaucrats. Make no mistake. Comey and his ilk are not law enforcement. They're politicians.
Isn't this why people are so disenfranchised with the federal government? The arrogant hardline stance that they know how to handle our stuff better than we do? Doesn't really matter if it's our own bodies (abortion, drugs, healthcare), our own property (eminent domain, asset forfeiture, triennial DMCA exemptions), or in some cases, our own opinions (lobbyists and cronyism contravening the will of the people). And with an alleged consolidation of power in various critical segments of the public sector, it's a wonder they haven't gotten further than they have.
The goal of terrorism is to make you fearful. Murder is just a means to an end, and the fear doesn't have to spawn from the perpetrator.
The day that the federal government started curtailing civil liberties in the name of fighting terrorism, making us jerk and twitch at the slightest mention of bad people, is the day the goal was achieved. Whether anybody died from the act is immaterial to the results.
Rest assured that if Farook had survived, the FBI would have surely used some form of liberty-depriving investigative technique to get the information it needed. To paraphrase a snippet of an old parable, it's in the snake's nature.
In the context of the situation, Apple's biggest sin here (along with anybody who owns, operates, or manufactures a cell phone) is that they're the ones still living.
I wondered about this, too, whether it violated some kind of chain-of-custody rule, though I think in the end, it won't matter, because the phone itself wasn't actually modified or handled, it was the iCloud account.
"The company explained that it had felt that it's conversations with the government had been confidential until the FBI revealed this detail in the totally unexpected Motion to Compel it filed Friday."
So what they're saying is that, for a time, Apple was even respecting the government's privacy? Now that the cat's out of the bag on that one, I wonder how much it stings to have your private details encroached on...
"And let's define 'terrorist organization'. A terrorist organization is an organization that scares you on a daily basis and makes you change your behavior. What does CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC do on a daily basis? Wolf Blitzer? Terrorist. Glenn Beck, terrorist. Nancy Grace? F**king terrorist. And her plastic surgeon. Yeah, that guy's a menace."
That's a pendulum that swings both ways. I"ll admit, I am not a lawyer, nor a legislator, nor a law enforcement representative, so I may not be hip on all of the wranglings of the law. However, I am a technical professional. If I were to tell them that they don't know or understand dick about technology (which, less face it, does seem likely at times), they'd take umbrage to such a statement.
Oh, come on now, Trevor. Did you not read the Techdirt article about how the administration loves redefining words? In that context, I'd say that "reforming" those policies is EXACTLY what Holder's been doing.
I think the greater utility of an exercise like this, both in its planning and execution, is highly underrated. One of the (many) non-political reasons we've had problems with terrorism in the past is that the opposition is like nothing we're used to dealing with. No uniforms, no nations, different structurally than an opposing country's army. Things like this force planners to think outside the box and be creative with solutions. Even if the need for those solutions never materialize, the ideas gleaned from a zombie-outbreak contingency can be used in many different response scenarios.
Of course, one could also argue that a retweet of that nature would violate copyright legislation as well (fair use not withstanding), while we're talking about a nation of prosecutors willing to pile on charges ad infinitum.