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Jonathan Turley

No “Glitch”: State Department Admits That Press Briefing Was Intentionally Edited To Remove Passage . . . But Insisted It Cannot Find Official Responsible

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You may recall the controversy of a press conference at the State Department was later edited to remove an embarrassing question and answer regarding the Iran negotiations. When the exchange with Fox New Reporter James Rosen was found missing, Elizabeth Trudeau, director of the press office insisted that “Genuinely, we think it was a glitch.” Now, the State Department is admitting that it was not a glitch but an intentional editing of the transcript to remove the exchange. However, State Department spokesman John Kirby insists that they cannot determine who ordered the deletion.

The exchange occurred in 2013 when Rosen got then-spokeswoman Jen Psaki to admit to misleading the press on the Iran nuclear deal. (Psaki is now White House Communications Director). Rosen reminded Psaki that he had asked in February whether there were bilateral talks with Iran on the issue. Then-spokesperson Victoria Nuland denied that such talks were underway by saying “on a government-to-government level, no.” In fact, there were such talks underway. In December, Rosen asked Psaki “Is it the policy of the State Department, where the preservation or the secrecy of secret negotiations is concerned, to lie in order to achieve that goal?” Psaki responded: “James, I think there are times where diplomacy needs privacy in order to progress. This is a good example of that.” That seemed to confirm the obvious that the Administration had lied to the media and the public.
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Federal Magistrate Orders Apple To Help FBI Hack Its Own Phones . . . Apple Refuses

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Apple has decided to fight an unprecedented and highly controversial order by US Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym that the company has to assist the government in breaking into one of its encrypted phones. Apple says that it does not have the technology and does not want to be part of such an effort to create a privacy stripping tool for the FBI. Pym seems to believe that she can order companies to become unwilling participants in surveillance research and development. I fail to see her legal basis for such an extraordinary order against a private company.

CEO Tim Cook said the order by US Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym “has implications far beyond the legal case at hand”. He said that the company cooperated with the FBI “But now the US government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.”

Pym has gone far beyond what I consider the scope of her authority. Indeed, her actions appear almost legislative in nature. Congress has not ordered such back door access to be supplied by companies and such a move would raise difficult privacy questions. It would also conflict with some other countries that have balked at the effort of the Obama Administration to strip phones of privacy encryption protections.
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