WASHINGTON — Former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden says he supports Apple in its effort to avoid a court order mandating it to help law enforcement officials break into an iPhone. The cell phone once belonged to one of the San Bernardino shooters responsible for killing 14 people in December.
“I am broadly with Apple. I actually think the bureau may have a case with one phone one time. I’m not asking Apple to break its or asking Apple to suppress its self destruction mechanism, but the broader argument that we should have is back doors into otherwise secure systems on security grounds,” Hayden told attendees during an event at a local book store Wednesday night.
He explained he could argue the issue on privacy, saying, “On security grounds I think America is more secure with unbreakable, end-to-end encryption… I know what I would do as director if anybody put a back door… to me. First thing I would say is, ‘Thank you, Jesus.’ Because I’m coming after that door. It doesn’t guarantee I’m getting in, but it gives me additional capacity,” Hayden said.
“Jim Clapper, Director of National Intelligence — for the last three years, has said the primary threat to the United States is cyber. I get [FBI] Director Toomey’s problems. I get the threat of cyber terrorism. I get the threat of crime,” he continued. “The DNI says the primary thing that keeps him awake at night is cyber threat. Why would you weaken your cyber defense potentially, even if it were a good idea for these other problems over here. And so I’m broadly with Tim Cook and Apple.”
Hayden served as CIA director and Director of National of Intelligence for three different administrations.
Apple filed its formal opposition to the federal court order Thursday. In it’s brief Apple said the court should vacate the order.
“Apple strongly supports, and will continue to support, the efforts of law enforcement in pursuing justice against terrorists and other criminals — just as it has in this case and many others,” the company said in its motion. “But the unprecedented order requested by the government finds no support in the law and would violate the Constitution.”