FBI WON’T TELL ME HOW MUCH IT PAID TO BREAK INTO SYED FAROOK’S IPHONE, SAYING IT MIGHT JEOPARDIZE ITS INVESTIGATION

SOURCE: TECHDIRT

As you probably recall, several months ago, after going to court to try to force Apple to write some software to allow the FBI to hack into Syed Farook’s work iPhone, the DOJ and FBI abruptly called off the case, claiming that it had been able to get an exploit that let it into the phone. A few weeks later, FBI Director James Comey suggested that the government paid over $1.2 million to get that exploit from some “hackers.” Some later news reports indicated that the FBI quietly tried to talk down those numbers, and suggested that perhaps Comey was just bad at math (rather than name a number, he said that the FBI had paid “more than I will make in the remainder of this job, which is seven years and four months….”).

Either way, I sent a FOIA request into the FBI that day asking for either the invoice or any other documentation showing how much the FBI had paid to get into Farook’s work iPhone. The FBI has now rejected my FOIA request, arguing that since this is an “ongoing investigation,” responding to such a request might somehow “interfere” with the case.

This is complete hogwash, for a variety of reasons. First, Farook is dead. Second, what investigation is there left to do? We know that Farook and his wife shot up Farook’s office party and killed a bunch of people. We also know that the FBI was so unconcerned about further investigation that it allowed reporters to ransack Farook’s townhouse soon after the shooting. Third, how the hell would revealing the price impact the investigation? The answer is that it will not. There is nothing in saying “it cost us $1 million” or “it cost us $653,000” or whatever, that in any way interferes with whatever investigation remains to be done.

This is nothing more than the FBI doing what the FBI frequently does with FOIA requests. Denying them because the FBI doesn’t want to answer.

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