Earlier today, the Department of Justice filed the latest in a long series of paperwork, this time telling Apple to stop being a baby and unlock the damn phone. Apple's general counsel just responded, and he's pissed. On a conference call to discuss the DoJ's filing — itself a response to Apple's response — Apple's Bruce Sewell ratcheted up the rhetoric. Up to this point, both sides have politely disagreed with each other, but the civility seems to be ending (emphasis added):
For the first time ever, we see an allegation that Apple has deliberately made changes to block law enforcement requests for access. This should be deeply offensive to everyone that reads it. An unsupported, unsubstantiated effort to vilify Apple rather than confront the issues in the case.
It's a no-holds-barred attack on the DOJ's position, alleging for the first time that the DOJ is being malicious about the entire affair, rather than just overly demanding. Sewell continued on in the same fashion for three wonderfully angry paragraphs. Grab some popcorn, because this ain't ending any time soon.
The tone of the brief reads like an indictment. We've all heard director Comey and Attorney General Lynch thank Apple for its consistent help in working with law enforcement. Director Comey's own statement…that there are no demons here? We certainly wouldn't conclude it from this brief. In 30 years of practice, I don't think I've ever seen a legal brief that was more intended to smear the other side with false accusations and innuendo, and less intended to focus on the real merits of the case. For the first time ever, we see an allegation that Apple has deliberately made changes to block law enforcement requests for access. This should be deeply offensive to everyone that reads it. An unsupported, unsubstantiated effort to vilify Apple rather than confront the issues in the case.
To do this in a brief before a magistrate judge just shows the desperation that the Department of Justice now feels. We would never respond in kind. But imagine Apple asking a court whether the FBI could be trusted because, there is this real question about whether J. Edgar Hoover ordered the assassination of Kennedy. See ConspiracyTheory.com as our supporting evidence. We add security features to protect our customers from hackers and criminals. And the FBI should be helping to support us in this because it keeps everyone safe. To suggest otherwise is demeaning. It cheapens the debate and it tries the mask the real and serious issues. I can only conclude that the DoJ is so desperate at this point that it has thrown all decorum to the winds.
Look, we know there are great people in the DoJ and the FBI. We work shoulder to shoulder with them all the time. That's why this cheap shot brief surprises us so much. We help when we're asked to. We're honest about what we can and can't do. Let's at least treat one another with respect and get this case before the American people in a responsible way. We are going to court to exercise our legal rights. Everyone should beware, because it seems like disagreeing with the Department of Justice means you must be evil and anti-American. Nothing could be further from the truth.