Dearth of new data from San Bernardino iPhone helpful to FBI investigation, sources say

in General Discussion edited April 2016
Law enforcement sources on Tuesday said that while an iPhone linked to last year's San Bernardino shootings has yielded no actionable intel, the dearth of new information has actually helped the FBI investigation into the terror attack.

Citing unnamed law enforcement officials, CNN reports an iPhone 5c used by terror suspect Syed Rizwan Farook contains no evidence of contact with ISIS sympathizers or transfer of encrypted communications during a specific time window on the day of the attack.

The development has left investigators "more confident" that Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik did not reach out to co-conspirators during an 18-minute gap in the FBI's model of events. Officials said the FBI could not put these theories to bed without access to Farook's iPhone, according to the report.

What the target iPhone 5c does not, and cannot, reveal is whether Farook and Malik used another mode of communication during the 18 minutes that have gone unaccounted for.

The innocuous iPhone, assigned to Farook by his former employer the San Bernardino County Health Department, was at the center of a divisive court battle involving Apple and the Justice Department. FBI officials requested Apple's help in extracting the passcode-locked phone's data, an action that would require the company to thwart its own security systems. Apple declined, setting up a court battle that in turn sparked debate over how best to weigh public rights to privacy with national security.

Federal prosecutors ultimately withdrew the case after an unnamed third party came forward with a working extraction method. With the passcode cracked, focus has turned to the phone's contents, a major bone of contention for both sides. The DOJ argued the need to exhaust every lead in its investigation, even if chances were slim that Farook's phone contained actionable intelligence.

Apple, which at that point had already handed over iCloud data from the account associated with the device, painted the government's pursuit as reckless. The company disagreed to creating a workaround that would potentially put hundreds of millions of iOS devices at risk of intrusion in return for a small amount of data stored on-device, if any existed.

According to today's report, investigators are satisfied that Farook's iPhone contains no data that was not already known. Quizzically, sources added that data gleaned from the device is still being analyzed, a situation seemingly unchanged from last week.



  • Reply 1 of 33
    mtbnutmtbnut Posts: 198member
    What good is it that the FBI keeps announcing and bragging about what is or isn't on the phone when they will never allow an outside party to verify its contents? They might as well come out and say that there is video proving Lee Harvey Oswald was the only shooter, but they can't release it for national security reasons. "Trust us, it's there," they'll exclaim.
  • Reply 2 of 33
    zeus423zeus423 Posts: 96member
    Sounds like just another line of BS to try and make their case that the FBI should have access to everyone's phone and every detail of their life. Sorry, not buying it, FBI. Try again.
    cornchiplostkiwijbdragoncalinouserlongpathfrankieration alfreerangeireland
  • Reply 3 of 33
    mubailimubaili Posts: 430member
    There is no information on the iPhone 5c. Lack of new information means FBI could focus on what they have instead of what they can have. I guess focus is a good thing.
  • Reply 4 of 33
    So they found no information at all and try to spin it as a positive?

    "Whew. That was a close one. Lucky for us there was no communication sent from the iPhone telling others to commit further terrorist acts. We're all saved. Good thing we were able to get into this iPhone to verify that it didn't actually contain anything."
  • Reply 5 of 33
    thrangthrang Posts: 867member
    We found nothing, which helped us...
  • Reply 6 of 33
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,435member
    For this we should all give up our personal privacy? If the FBI had just said: "we were wrong" I could at least have respected that. Instead, they make themselves look petty. 
  • Reply 7 of 33
    matrix077matrix077 Posts: 867member
    Luckily we found nothing, which really really helps us!
  • Reply 8 of 33
    RosynaRosyna Posts: 87member
    That's a super weird way to spin, "As everyone expected, there was nothing useful at all on the San Bernardino iPhone"

    The shooters destroyed their actual personal phones and left the work iPhone alone, so of course there was nothing on it. The FBI had a list of all the apps on the device from Apple, so they knew absolutely nothing useful was on it.
  • Reply 9 of 33
    EsquireCatsEsquireCats Posts: 1,152member
    The FBI has lost all credibility in this case. Additionally it's hard to believe that any new data is going to be more significant than the iCloud Backups of the device. Backups which were likely made during the planning stages of the attack.
  • Reply 10 of 33
    COnfusing ass headline
  • Reply 11 of 33
    Of course that is what they are going to say. Such a joke!
  • Reply 12 of 33
    davidwdavidw Posts: 1,186member
    Wait a minute. Wasn't this iPhone found in the terrorist mother's home or car? If so, then he didn't have this iPhone on him during the 18 minutes in question. Unless that's where he was during the 18 minutes, at his mother's home dropping off the iPhone. Not sure if he could have gotten there and back in the 18 minutes he went missing. But I would think he would have thought that his home and his mother's home would be under surveillance by the police and wouldn't risk going there. So the FBI probably already knew that he couldn't have used this iPhone to contact anyone in the 18 minutes he was missing because he didn't have the iPhone with him at the time.
    edited April 2016 radarthekatcaliration al
  • Reply 13 of 33
    Wish the FBI had (publicly) this dogged when they investigated 9/11.
  • Reply 14 of 33
    CMA102DLCMA102DL Posts: 121member
    Only an idiot would risk getting caugh and fail by using a work phone to plan or conduct a terrorist act. Why is it surprising to the FBI that the phone had NOTHING worthwhile? Farook destroyed his personal phone and backups prior to conducting the terrorist act. This was the phone that had everything. Dumb FBI.
  • Reply 15 of 33
    Blah... So it was a load of crap from the FBI!!! Wow, who would have guessed that???
  • Reply 16 of 33
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,704member
    Not sure what's more annoying: the poor attempt at spin, or the FBI thinking folk are stupid enough to believe it. 
  • Reply 17 of 33
    lostkiwilostkiwi Posts: 631member
    Rayz2016 said:
    Not sure what's more annoying: the poor attempt at spin, or the FBI thinking folk are stupid enough to believe it. 
    Unfortunately a lot of people are stupid enough to believe it. Who was that cop that wanted to ban all iPhones as they are now all 'terrist fones'?

    The only good news we can take from this rather breathless headline is that the FBI have defeated the dormant cyber pathogen that we heard all about.
    I'm sure we can all sleep better at night knowing that. 
  • Reply 18 of 33
    The FBI has lost all credibility in this case. Additionally it's hard to believe that any new data is going to be more significant than the iCloud Backups of the device. Backups which were likely made during the planning stages of the attack.
    The last time the iPhone was backed up was in October.  The attacks took place in December.  So the phone could have had three months of unknown data.  But it didn't because it was an employer-issued iPhone and the shooters destroyed their personal phones and computers.  This particular iPhone was found in the back of the shooter's mom's car.  So right from the start, it was unlikely anything was on it, and sure enough, nothing useful was on it.  Of course the FBI would try to put a positive spin on it so they can continue to pursue to unlock anyone's phone.
    calinouserration albadmonk
  • Reply 19 of 33
    chasmchasm Posts: 2,345member
    "We didn't find anything of value, but there was new data that helped us!" I take this to mean that now, at last ... after court orders and third-party hacking ... the US government at last knows the gunman's high score in Candy Crush. America can relax! Whew! TOTALLY worth it.
  • Reply 20 of 33
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    Wish the FBI had (publicly) this dogged when they investigated 9/11.
    They didn't need too, the terrorists were dead and they knew who sent them the money, they're all safe drinking tea in Saudi Arabia. No mystery, no need to investigate.
    Finding out a proper whipping boy, Afghanistan and Iraq.... Hey, those are proper use of resources...
    [Deleted User]baconstangcaliai46
Sign In or Register to comment.