Apple's refusal to work with the FBI to unlock the Pensacola Naval Air Station shooter's phone caused delays in revealing that the attack was linked to al-Qaida, Sen. James Lankford said Tuesday.
"If you have al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, a group which is working with a Saudi citizen in the United States to train for and prepare for [an attack], we need to know that immediately so we can obviously respond and try to be able to wrap up those individuals," the Oklahoma Republican said on Fox News' "America's Newsroom."
"The FBI was able to crack the phone on it but it would have been helpful to reach out and get to those folks faster."
Officials briefed on the investigation told The New York Times that the shooter, Second Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a Saudi Air Force cadet in training with the U.S. military, had connected with an al-Qaida operative. The link was determined after the FBI was able to bypass security features on at least one of the gunman's iPhones without Apple's help.
"We asked Apple for assistance, and the president asked Apple for assistance," said Lankford. "Unfortunately Apple will not help us unlock the phones. If technology companies like Apple are willing to oblige the demands of an authoritarian regime, they certainly have no excuse for failing to cooperate with rule of law nations that respect civil liberties and privacy rights."
Apple, however, says it provided all information available and called the claims being made by others false and an excuse to weaken security measures that protect users and national security, noted show host Ed Henry.
"We need that to stay exceptionally strong and what they wanted from the FBI was Apple's FaceTime communications and even with the reaction of course by the president, Apple was not engaging in that," Lankford responded.
Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.