In 2015, two Salifist terrorists killed 16 people in California. Media coverage of the attack was rapidly superseded by a dispute between Apple Inc. and the FBI. The dispute arose from Apple’s refusal to give the FBI access to technology which could hack into/unlock the iPhone 5c used by the terrorists.
The dispute could have grown into a battle of the century pitting libertarians and privacy advocates against the US security apparatus and the deep state.
As it was, the entire thing fizzled out when the FBI withdrew their request to Apple after successfully getting into the iPhone. But who helped the FBI do it?
At the time, FBI director James Comey refused to name the source where the FBI obtained the technology capable of unlocking the iPhone.
The story has almost totally faded from the headlines…or has it?
The recent Vault 7 Wikileaks release has told the world, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the CIA has the ability and crucially had the ability in 2015, to hack into every Apple iOS and Google Android-based devices in the world. This accounts for 99% of mobile devices sold in 2016.
If as was claimed, America’s intelligence agencies harmonised their communications during the George W. Bush years, why couldn’t the FBI simply go to their chums at the CIA and ask them to unlock the iPhone rather than engage in a public battle with an intractable Apple Inc?
There are several theories one can logically arrive at.
1. The CIA and FBI were and remain rivals.
This could very much be the case. We already know that throughout the Syrian conflict, the CIA and Pentagon had very different goals for Syria with the CIA favouring the funding and arming of regime change minded jihadists whilst the Pentagon tended to favour anti-jihad, secular Kurdish-led SDF forces.
Furthermore, many murmurs during the 2016 election, suggested that whilst the CIA had a profound detestation for Donald Trump, many in the FBI were sympathetic.
There may be the likelihood that communications and cooperation between the two organisations was far from rosy even in 2015. This would suggest that the FBI assumed it would be easier to deal with Apple than with the CIA.
2. A False Flag
There remains a possibility that the FBI had the means to unlock the iPhone in question all along and that the entire game of ‘hack and mouse’ with Apple was a very public test to see how far a company would be willing to risk its reputation for protecting its customers’ data in order to serve the interests of the deep state.
In the aftermath of a terrorist incident, people are generally more willing to sacrifice liberty for security than in times remote from bloodshed and overt fear.
Could it be that the FBI used the incident as a barometer for both corporate as well as public opinion? Absolutely.
3. The US deep state isn’t as good at doing its job as Vault 7 would imply
First of all, it is important to recognise that Wikileaks thus far has a 100% record of accuracy in respect of their publications. This is virtually unheard of in the world of journalism. With Edward Snowden calming that Vault 7 is the real deal, it is unlikely that it is anything other than the real deal.
Therefore, according to this logic, if the CIA had the technology to unlock the iPhone used by the terrorists in 2015 and they would have hypothetically been happy to aid the FBI, one could argue that human error in successfully applying the technology could have been an issue.
Technology is often only as competent as those using it and the deep state does have a record of incompetence in certain areas.
Perhaps further leaks will lead the world to determine which of these scenarios is the most likely.