Husband of San Bernardino Victim Agrees: Farook’s Phone Unlikely to Yield Useful Information

Even before the government obtained an All Writs Act ordering Apple to help back door Syed Rezwan Farook’s phone, it had arranged with a former judge to submit a brief on behalf of the victims of the attack, supporting the government’s demand. Yet not all victims agree. The husband of a woman shot three times in the attack, Salihin Kondoker, has submitted his own letter to the court in support of Apple’s stance. In it, he provides support for a point I was among the first to make: that the phone isn’t going to provide much information about the attack, in large part because it was a work phone Farook would have known was being surveilled.

In my opinion it is unlikely there is any valuable information on this phone. This was a work phone. My wife also had an iPhone issued by the County and she did not use it for any personal communication. San Bernardino is one of the largest Counties in the country. They can track the phone on GPS in case they needed to determine where people were. Second, both the iCloud account and carrier account were controlled by the county so they could track any communications. This was common knowledge among my wife and other employees. Why then would someone store vital contacts related to an attack on a phone they knew the county had access to? They destroyed their personal phones after the attack. And I believe they did that for a reason.

It’s a question no one asked Jim Comey earlier this week when he testified before the House Judiciary Committee.

Curiously, Kondoker (who explains he has attended briefings the FBI has held for victims) alludes to information the FBI is currently ignoring.

In the weeks and months since the attack I have been to the FBI briefings that were held for victims and their families. I have joined others in asking many questions about how this happened and why we don’t have more answers. I too have been frustrated there isn’t more information. But I don’t believe that a company is the reason for this.

[snip]

In the wake of this terrible attack, I believe strongly we need stronger gun laws. It was guns that killed innocent people, not technology. I also believe the FBI had and still has access to a lot of information which they have ignored and I’m very disappointed in the way they’ve handled this investigation.

I’m really curious what that is — and why Jim Comey, who promises he would never ignore a lead, isn’t ensuring it gets chased down?

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

6 replies
  1. martin says:

    quote”In the wake of this terrible attack, I believe strongly we need stronger gun laws. It was guns that killed innocent people, not technology. “unquote

    Well then, lets ask Congress to pass a law that prevents gun manufacturers from adding legs to the guns so they can’t walk anywhere they want to kill innocent people.

    sheeezuschrist. I guess we better warn every gun owner in Murika they are at risk of their guns killing them in their sleep. Then, let’s outlaw cars, knives, and every other thing used to kill people. Like..ummm..I don know…hey ..here’s an idea. How bout we outlaw CIA Drones while were at it eh? After all…ALL LIVES MATTER. right?

    The next time I here someone suggest that guns kill by themselves.. we’re going to have a discussion. Right?

  2. martin says:

    My opening.

    While I also agree the degree of mass killings in this country is epidemic, I submit, the abandonment of mental health perjogatives in this country is beyond shameless. Yes, we need gun control. But until this nation decides to face up to the total abandonment and persecution of the mentally ill, gun control is an oxymoron.

    Your call.

  3. jerryy says:

    “The next time I here someone suggest that guns kill by themselves.. we’re going to have a discussion. ”
    .
    Guns do not usually kill people all by themselves, sometimes, but not usually. Of course I am not sure what you here.
    .
    People holding guns do often kill others. Taking away access to guns for some people will make it a lot harder, actually nearly impossible for them to use guns to kill others.

  4. galljdaj says:

    How about taking the ‘guns’ away from the killers of those that do the most killing?

    Those that are killing with impunity!

  5. Scott Kirkpatrick says:

    The FBI appears to be looking for information on the physical movements of the two attackers during the roughly two week period before the shootings and anyone who called them or whom they called during that time, using the several partially destroyed phones and this one, which they seem to have bricked. But they already have all that information — it’s not in Apple’s servers but in the mobile call detail records (MCDRs) of the cellular phone companies. Every time a cell phone passes a cell tower it reports in, and every call is logged, just as with wired phones, but with the phone’s GPS location added and a nice accurate time stamp. iMessage calls are logged, too, but I don’t know if location information is kept. The FBI should have gotten all that within a few days.

    This is a key part of the “these phones are a useless pretext for getting an Apple back door” discussion, that I have not seen in the news coverage.

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