RUSH: The story with Apple and the terrorists’ iPhone 5c and the FBI, the White House is weighing in on it. I think there needs to be some further explanation about what’s really going on here, folks. Because it’s become a PR battle, and it looks like Apple is gonna lose this, and it’s gonna be very tough to win because here we have a terrorist’s cell phone, and law enforcement wants in it and to find out what else might be planned, who else might be involved.
And it’s very tough to stand up for citizens’ privacy rights when the FBI and the White House say, “Hey, it’s just that one phone! Don’t panic here. All we want is that one phone!” But that’s not all they want. That’s not all. This is the federal government making a move on a private corporation. And this was a strategically planned — this was a specifically chosen event by the FBI. In fact, I don’t even think what’s on this phone is the real target for the FBI and the government. I think it’s just the way they’re getting in.
And just to set the table — and I’ll come back later and give you details of this. The best way that I have found to explain to people what’s going on here, is instead of this being a cell phone in possession of a dead terrorist, or a terrorist — a dead terrorist’s cell phone — think of it as a safe in the terrorist’s house. And think of it as a six-number combination safe, although the number of twists and turns really are not relevant for the discussion here.
The government says, “No, no, no! We just want that one safe. We, the government, just want the safe company to crack that one safe. We want them to give us the combination to that one safe.”
And everybody says, “Well, fine. What’s wrong with that? The terrorists are dead. Who knows what’s in that safe? Let’s go in there and get it!”
But that’s not what they’re asking for, and I’ll detail this in a moment. What the FBI is asking for is for the manufacturer — the safe company — to give them the combinations of every safe they have made and will make. That is essentially what the government, the FBI is asking of Apple.
“Give us the key that will allow us to crack any phone.” Now, they’re not saying that, but that’s going to be the ended result if the FBI wins this. And they probably will.
Because I don’t care how big Apple is: When the full force of the government comes at you, there’s any number of ways they can get what they want, and they can maybe structure it in such a way so that Apple appears to be hanging tough and hanging tough and hanging tough. And so they get the PR value of really hanging tough and trying to defend their customers, and at the end of the day they cave to it. More than likely, that’s going to happen. For all of you people concerned about privacy and security, this is one of the biggest — I don’t know — contradictions or dilemmas.
I mean, I hear from people all the time paranoid, scared to death that the NSA’s tracking them. The NSA’s listening to their phone calls. The NSA is activating the cameras on their phones and watching them. Particularly Millennials don’t like any of this invasion-of-privacy stuff. But all of a sudde,n everybody is demanding Apple give up and let the FBI into “this one phone.” It’s just curious, because when you dig into this and find out, it’s not just “this one phone,” and I don’t even think it’s this phone that’s really the ultimate, long-term target.
The FBI has been trying to get Apple to give them the code or the keys to break peer-to-peer encryption. That’s really what they want. They want to be able to decrypt your messages, your e-mails. And they need to get into your phones to be able to do that. In fact, look at… This is, I think, an interesting way to look at this. Look at how differently a publicly traded company views the security of its customers compared to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and agents of the federal government.
Look at how they protect, try to guarantee the safety and security of the citizens.
Wouldn’t it be nice if Obama and Hillary were doing everything they could to protect the American people from all of these threats from an open border, from Mexico, from ISIS? All of these migrants, all of these refugees, you think that’s not a security breach? You think those are not security breaches waiting to happen? Can you believe Apple is doing and appears to care much more about the privacy and security of their customers than the United States government seems to care about the privacy, security, and what have you, of American citizens?
Look how Hillary treated America’s secrets on her off-the-grid e-mail server. Look at all the top secret data she was trafficking in, all the top secret documents, e-mails, and so forth. Her e-mail server wasn’t secure. And it wasn’t just hers, was it? “Hey, we just want in on this one phone,” says Josh Earnest. “We just want in that one phone. We don’t want any others.” Yeah, it was just one Hillary e-mail server. Well, who else was she dealing with? Who else was able to traffic in these documents that Hillary was trafficking in?
Who else had similar setups and so forth? The irony on this is that Tim Cook is probably gonna vote for people like Hillary or Bernie Sanders or what have you, and they want to seize his company. If you listen to Bernie, listen to Hillary, Cook’s company and companies like his are the problem. They’re the enemy. Yet Tim Cook — who’s doing a greater job protecting the security and privacy of his own customers — is gonna vote for people that blow it up for everybody else.
A well-known professional golfer sent me a little story going around in the professional golf world today. It’s an attempt to illustrate to people who might be attracted to Bernie Sanders (for whatever reason) to understand what Bernie’s actually proposing with his 90% tax rate. And it’s very simple. You go into a pro shop and you want to buy a ball marker to mark your ball on the green. So you ask the guy at the pro shop, “How much is the ball marker?” The guy says, “It’s a dollar.” You hand over your dollar, and he gives you a dime as your ball marker.
That’s Bernie Sanders’ tax policy.
He’s gonna take $1 from you and give you back 10Â¢.
It’s a great way to illustrate for people what Bernie Sanders’ tax policy is all about.
RUSH: No, no, no, no. I don’t care what you’ve heard or what you think you know. I’m gonna stick with my safe analogy here. Forget we’re talking about a cell phone. Think of it as a safe. The FBI is not asking Apple to go to the terrorists’ house and open it with the combination they know the safe has and then let the FBI look around. The FBI is asking for the combination.
The FBI is asking the company that makes the safes to give them the combinations of all the safes that they have made and will make in the future, because they don’t want to have to go to Apple every time they need to get inside some potential criminal’s phone. They want the key. They are using a 200-year-old law called the All Writs Act, w-r-i-t-s, which is a law that compels private companies to help the government in law enforcement primarily, but other endeavors as well.
The argument here is does the All Writs Act enable the government to tell a private company that it must weaken itself, that it must build vulnerabilities into its product? In the case of Apple, Apple has made a big deal out of the fact that if you own an iPhone, nobody’s getting in it unless you let ’em, or unless you screw up and somehow don’t use the systems they provide. But nobody’s breaking into your phone. And in the case of a lot of applications, there is encryption both ways, from the sender to the recipient and back, and even if somebody gets in your phone, they’re not gonna be able to crack your communications because it’s encrypted and nobody has the key to decrypt it.
The FBI wants all of that, but they’re claiming they want it for just one phone. And they want the data. They want the key. They don’t want Apple to come in and open the phone. They want to do it themselves. That means they have to be given the key. Well, okay, so the FBI has the key. Then other law enforcement gets the key. By the time the first week is over hundreds of thousands of law enforcement people have the key to get into iOS devices. You think one of them is not gonna leak it, one of them is not gonna make a mistake, one of them not gonna see to it that it ends up in the hands of some bad guy? I mean, it is highly likely that this scenario could play out if Apple is made to give up the ownership of the combination to all of their safes.
But there’s more to this, and I’ll get into it later. I’m not doing it now ’cause I don’t think it’s a priority in terms of everything we’re talking about here. But that’s basically what this is about. And again, I need to draw the comparison, the analogy. I mean, look at the lengths to which a private-sector American business is going to protect the privacy and security of its customers compared to the federal government’s efforts in that area. And they don’t compare. You remember the hack not long ago that the ChiComs and the Russians are now in possession of the federal records of over 20 million government employees.
Remember that hack? Remember hearing about that? How about the IRS and Lois Lerner and all these people digging deep into private tax return data and leaking that and then using the leaks to deny tax-exempt status to otherwise qualified applicants? It’s not even a comparison.
RUSH: Here’s Eric in Los Angeles. Back to the phones we go. Eric, great to have you. Hello, sir.
CALLER: Thank you. Hi. I’m looking at this iPhone issue with the government trying to force Apple to deencrypt it so they can get the information about the terrorists. And I’ve been listening and listening, and everybody’s got this wrong. There’s a larger issue at stake here. We have a process of letting anyone and everyone come into this country unvetted. The wife of that San Bernardino terrorist walked right in saying she wanted to get married. And the larger issue is Obama and his policies are letting these terrorists come into this country and yet we’re after the fact a symptom of this is trying to deencrypt a phone. Now, that’s my problem. No one’s looking at the big picture. You are, but who else is even talking about this?
RUSH: Well, actually, I get your point. Your point’s really valid. Let me restate for people that might — I just want to make it clear. He’s saying the phone and the encryption and trying to get data from it is a symptom of a much larger problem, and that problem is we’re letting the criminals of the world into this country, and we’re not stopping them. We’re not vetting them. We’re not doing any about it, and then when they engage in criminal acts then we act, “Oh, my God, oh, my God, we gotta find out what they’re doing,” and the time to find that out is before they get into the country, right? That’s your point.
CALLER: Exactly. Think about this. We’re worried about a dead terrorist’s phone. How many people right now, how many terrorists or would-be terrorists are in this country with a phone, an encrypted phone, plotting to do something to somebody somewhere or groups of people of nice citizens —
RUSH: Wait. See, you have just swerved into what this really is about, in my estimation. In my humble opinion this is the FBI here. This is not just and it’s not very much about what’s on this phone. It’s exactly what you said. They are frozen out of any phone. They can’t crack any iPhone. They are ticked off. They’ve been publicly complaining about it. And on the other hand we got all these people worried about the government spying on ’em. How do they feel now they realize, in an iPhone, that iPhone you’re holding, the government can’t crack your phone; what are you being paranoid for? So the government wants in, and they’re using the case of this terrorist phone and the incendiary, personal nature this case creates, in order to create a circumstance where they can crack any phone they want to crack, Eric. That’s what this is about.
CALLER: This is malfeasance and ineptitude at the highest level. This is Obama, and he’s about to let how many Syrian refugees in? How many of these people are terrorists? How many people will be in here with an iPhone 5S plotting to do something to some group or some state or some city somewhere?
RUSH: Well, speaking of that, let me just add, this was an iPhone 5C. The iPhone 5C is the least secure phone Apple makes. Starting with the iPhone 5S and on up into the iPhone 6 and 6S series, it’s not just the four digital or six-digit PIN, you need fingerprints to get in, if you use it, and there’s no way to crack that because let me tell you how this fingerprint thing works. People didn’t even understand this.
Your fingerprint is not actually stored on the phone, just like your credit card number is not stored on the phone on Apple Pay. You sample your fingerprints, your thumbs, whatever fingers you want, and a digital token is attached to each one. A digital token is what’s saved in a portion of the processor called the secure enclave. It is, for visualization purposes, it’s a tiny little section of the processor where nobody can go, not even Apple. And it’s encrypted itself, but your fingerprint is not really there. It digitizes the fingerprint and assigns a token to it. And it recognizes your fingerprint that way, not by virtue of an actual picture of your fingerprint stored in the phone.
Apple Pay, by the same token, your credit card number never gets transferred in a transaction on Apple Pay. Your credit card number, all the data that identify you as the credit card holder is represented by a token, a number, a convoluted, crazy number, and that number is what gets transferred to the merchant’s card reader or device reader when you made a purchase with Apple Pay. It’s more secure than a credit card. It’s more secure than a credit card that you hand off to somebody at a store or a restaurant, and, by the same token, if this were an iPhone 5S or a 6 we wouldn’t even be here because the enclave and the fingerprint adds an entirely new dimension to it.
But this is not. This is an iPhone 5C. No fingerprint. All there is is that PIN, and nobody knows yet whether it’s a four-digit PIN code or six-digit, ’cause nobody knows what operating system was on this phone. It could be iOS 8, in which case there’s only a four-digit code. It was iOS 9 that introduced the option to use a six-digit code. But here is what the FBI, this what the government is asking in three separate items easily understood. The FBI is asking that the process by which people activate their phones by entering the PIN code be eliminated. The way it works now, if you forget your PIN, you’ve got 10 chances to use it. After 10 chances, after 10 failures, your phone gets erased.
You forget your four-digit PIN, you don’t have it written down, you can’t remember it, the first four times you try it, you can try ’em instantly. After the fourth time you have to wait one minute. After the fifth time you have to wait five minutes. Appear the sixth time you have to wait 15 minutes, up to number nine. The ninth time you have to wait an hour before trying. Well, this means that nobody can use automated, brute force technology to keep sampling four-digit codes in microseconds until they come up with the right one, which could be done in a half hour, because these delays are built in. And if after the tenth attempt, and you get it wrong all 10 times, your phone wipes.
Security. That’s how Apple builds it so that a thief can’t get into your data. Well, the FBI needs ways around that. If they’re gonna get whatever this terrorist had on his phone or her phone, they need to get around all those delays. The real thing they’re asking for — this is the key — the FBI is asking to be permitted to submit potential pass code or PIN numbers via the lightning port on the bottom of the phone. Meaning they want to be able to connect another digital device to the phone that brute force attacks the phone by in microseconds trying every different combination possible of four-digit PIN codes.
They’re not asking to take the phone to Cupertino, to turn the phone over to an Apple engineer. The Apple engineer goes in, unlocks the phone, takes the data off it, because some of that data’s encrypted. The iMessage data is encrypted in addition to the phone PIN. Some of the e-mail’s encrypted. They’re not asking Apple to go get all that and then hand it over to them. They are asking Apple to give them the keys to unlock this phone, which would unlock any phone. They’re asking Apple for the keys, the combination to the safe. They’re asking Apple for the combination for every phone eventually that’s been made. That’s their wish list, to deal with all these other terrorists who are currently out there plotting, using phones. The FBI wants to be able to track ’em. The FBI wants to be able to listen to their calls.
The FBI wants to be able to read their messages. Right now, they can’t. If they get… Even if they come across a terrorist’s phone, they can’t crack it. They can’t get in. The message traffic is encrypted. They can’t decrypt it. They need the keys. They don’t want to have to go to Apple every time they grab a terrorist’s phone. They want to be able to do it in-house. That’s the big ask. And in business terms, they’re asking Apple to essentially make their devices… They’re asking Apple to build a vulnerability into the software or hardware, the firmware.
It’s not just about removing the roadblock of the PIN code. The FBI wants to be able to get in on their own. Actually they’re also drawing the line on end-to-end encryption and that’s a whole different thing from this PIN code thing. There’s two different things that are being battled over here. End-to-end encryption is you sending a message to somebody, a text message to somebody, blue bubbles. If it’s green bubbles, it’s a cell text message and you gotta go to the phone company for that.
But if the bubbles are blue, then you’re encrypted both ways. End-to-end means sender, recipient, and back. Nobody can crack it. You’re totally safe. The DoD has gone public saying they can’t crack it. The CIA has said they can’t crack it. The NSA has said they can’t crack it. So even if they had the phone and even if they had the keys to unlock the phone to get in, they still need to be able to have the keys to decrypt all of that data. That’s what’s really being fought over here.
And Apple has made all of this security one of the top five reasons to buy their products. And they’re claiming, “You’re asking us to take away things that we are promoting, things that we are guaranteeing, things that we’re promising,” which they can’t really promise. Total security guarantee? You can’t do that. There’s always gonna be a flaw somewhere. But they are gonna suggest here, “You can’t make us do it, after all of these years, just to help law enforcement.
“You cannot tell us that we have to make an inferior product compared to what we’ve been making,” and the government thinks they can, and a lot of lawyers think they can. And that’s gonna be what the battle’s over. And I already know what’s gonna happen. The government does not lose these. They just don’t. It’s gonna take some time to play out, but it’s gonna be — remember, perception is reality. And when certain perceptions have been realized here is when this case is going to be, quote/unquote “solved.”
RUSH: Well, yeah, you could jail break it and you could get data that way. But what the FBI wants… This is where we get into this notion of the back door. There’s all kinds of different terms being used here to describe what’s going on, but the FBI essentially wants to be able to get into every device with a secret trapdoor that you can’t use as the owner, that only law enforcement has, and they would only use it with a warrant and proper legal supervision, and they would only do if when there’s just cause, proper whatever all that stuff is.
But people are afraid. “No, no. They’re gonna use it any time they want once they get access to it.” It’s just the latest chapter in the ongoing battle of privacy from government intrusion. I don’t mean to minimize it, but that’s what this is, with a company that has used — as a primary marketing sales tool — the fact that nobody can do that to their devices. Their devices can’t be cracked. “We care about your privacy. We care about your security. Screw the government, screw everybody else.” So the government’s coming for ’em.
RUSH: Just one more thing on this terrorist telephone business. Our last caller made a really, really good point that all of this is only a topic right now because we are just letting these people in the country. These people, these terrorists got in the country on what? A fiancÃ© visa. Fareed Sahib, whatever her name was, got in that way. “They were just a normal American couple,” and then something about the American health care system ticked ’em off and they became terrorists or some such thing. Isn’t that what it was?
Maybe not the health care system, but it was something, the office, whatever. I don’t know what it was. But they were just fine, normal, happy-go-lucky, nice Americans who all of a sudden “got radicalized.” (Gasp!) And it was our fault, somehow; it always is. But the caller made the point: “We can argue over what they want to do with the phone and the FBI and Apple and every customer and security, but if we just wouldn’t make it so easy for these people to get in the country, we wouldn’t have the problem.” That’s a good point.
Selma in Ridgewood, Queens, New York. Great to have you on —
CALLER: (garbled cell) Mr. Limbaugh, listen: Bottom line of the story is, all the candidates on the right have, to one degree or another, want to secure the border. But you’ve done an invaluable service by providing civics studies to kids. I homeschooled my son. We have the A Beka Program, and we have great books. Today the school system has thrown away the books. But, listen, the bottom line (garbled) to keep our country safe, we have to do two things. However, having said that, we cannot allow our government to circumvent the law, because when Snowden opened his big mouth, he disclosed things to us — the public — that the government has been endangering us by looking into our communication. So I must disagree with the government and I have to disagree with Mr. Trump. You may not circumvent the law because, bottom line of the story, if you get drunk, for instance —
RUSH: Wait, wait. Hold it. Wait, wait, wait.
CALLER: You’re drunk as a skunk, and you all take a nap —
RUSH: Wait, wait.
CALLER: — on the phone —
RUSH: Wait. Wait a second. What do you disagree with Trump over and you agree with the government? What is it you disagreeing with Trump on?
CALLER: No, I disagree with Trump as I disagree with the government that you may not circumvent the law and the rules that are in place now. That law put in place — and obviously it’s working. When Snowden opened his big mouth — which I don’t think he’s a traitor. I think he’s an honorable man for doing this, because he saved us. Billions of people now that the government has been spying on us for years, and I remember, before I had a cell phone —
RUSH: Should not go into iPhones. That’s what she’s saying. Yeah, okay.
CALLER: Huh? Hello?
RUSH: So, yeah, you think the iPhone should be off-limits for the government?
CALLER: Absolutely! I’ll tell you why. Because, for instance, people that are on medication that are taking psychotropic drugs may be disclosing things that are not based on reality.
RUSH: I know. Look, there’s no question what they could find (chuckling) in people’s phones. Psychotropic drugs or who knows? Just your average, ordinary conversation between a couple of reprobates could trigger all kinds of things. Especially if it’s read out of context and so forth. But I was very… Look, everybody in government — it’s not just Trump. I think all the other candidates have sided with the government over Apple on this. Am I wrong? (interruption) Kasich came out in favor of government…? Of course. They’re all going to. Anyway, I appreciate the call, Selma, but we’re just out of time here for this segment.