News Release

FBI and Apple: Director Comey’s Undeserved Reputation


imagesUSA Today reports today: “Apple and the FBI will face off Tuesday for the first time since the federal government went to court to try to force the tech giant to unlock a terrorist’s encrypted iPhone.

“FBI Director James Comey and Apple’s senior vice president and general counsel, Bruce Sewell, will testify at a House Judiciary Committee hearing titled ‘The Encryption Tightrope: Balancing Americans’ Security and Privacy.'” The Guardian reports: “Apple case: judge rejects FBI request for access to drug dealer’s iPhone.” Comey was President George W. Bush’s Deputy Attorney General.

COLEEN ROWLEY, rowleyclan at, @ColeenRowley
Rowley, a former FBI special agent and division counsel whose May 2002 memo to then  FBI Director Robert Mueller exposed some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures — was named one of TIME magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002.

She just wrote the piece, “Behind FBI’s Data-Access Fight with Apple,” which states: “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. …

“Except for a few whistleblowers, the only internal debate that developed was how to do it [illegal warrantless monitoring]. 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!

“If the FBI Director is truly concerned about the ‘proper balance’ in upholding the law as well as effectively investigating crimes, reducing terrorism and helping crime victims, how could he let himself fall so far off balance after 9/11? What integrity exists in going along with the Bush administration when it ‘went to the (lawless) dark side’ and when it ginned up war on Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks and which has only served to increase worldwide terrorism that led to the terrible creation of ISIS, all of which served to inspire the San Bernardino shooters? …

“Maybe most disingenuous of all is Comey’s new assertion that he is not trying to set a precedent. Does he not know that the government’s ‘Plan B’ secret agenda to create ‘work-arounds’ to defeat encryption recently came to light? Does he expect us to believe that he was not part of the secret White House meeting last fall where senior national security officials ordered agencies to find ways to counter encryption software and gain access to the most heavily protected user data on the most secure consumer devices, including Apple Inc.’s? …