Friday, March 18, 2016

An Open Letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook From FBI Special Agents

The following is an open letter from FBIAA President Reynaldo Tariche to Apple CEO Tim Cook.  The letter is our response to Cook's letter to Apple Customers.

Dear Mr. Cook:

Fourteen innocent people were killed in San Bernardino on December 2, 2015 in the nation’s deadliest terrorist attack since 9/11.  Evidence relating to that crime might exist on the iPhone used by the terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook.  FBI Agents—thousands of whom I am honored to represent—are investigating this crime and others like it.  In this case, you have refused to abide by a federal court order requiring Apple to assist the FBI with accessing the data on Farook’s iPhone pursuant to a warrant. Your decision reflects a blatant disregard for the work of FBI Agents and constitutes a threat to national security.

First, the open letter to your customers fails to acknowledge that your customers are also our customers.  It is our sworn duty to keep our customers, the American people, safe. Our duty is undertaken while adhering to Constitutional provisions barring unreasonable searches and seizures, protecting privacy. Your job is undertaken while adhering to an economic principle: a return on investment. While profits may dictate your decisions, the Constitution dictates ours.

Second, your actions now will embolden criminals, providing a safe haven for their activities. This includes the cyber-criminals about whom you warn in your letter.  It would be unwise to disregard established search and seizure procedures to give your products special treatment.  Terrorists, child pornographers, and others criminals should not escape lawful warrants because corporations use the promise of secure communications as a marketing tool.

Third, while you now claim openness to public dialogue about your technology, your actions belie your words.  In November 2015, the FBI Agents Association, the Attorney General of Ohio, the National District Attorneys Association, and the National Sheriffs’ Association jointly wrote to Apple to engage in the discussion you now seek.  However, Apple did not bother to respond to that request.  Rather, Apple and other technology companies have spent millions on lobbying and public relations, and have attempted to leverage the industry’s significant influence to derail Congressional debate. 

Fourth, if you are unwilling to act, then we urge Congress to do so. There are ways to resolve this problem, and the solution is not based on the false choice between absolutely secure communications and a wide-open door. Apple has worked with law enforcement to extract data from iPhones scores of times previously, and we urge you to do so again.   Absent this, Congress should enact legislation requiring companies to incorporate options into their technology that prevent smartphones from serving as barriers to lawfully-issued search warrants.  Given existing technologies, this is a reasonable and practical request.  

Finally, the ability to lawfully obtain the private records of criminal conspiracies is a time-tested and indispensable part of effective law enforcement. The papers and letters of the past are being replaced by the electronic data held on your devices.  Apple is choosing to provide modern criminals with a tool that past generations of criminals never had: an impenetrable door that is booby-trapped to destroy evidence. A homeowner could not reject law enforcement officers executing a warrant by claiming they don’t want to unlock the door.  Likewise, Apple should not be able to stonewall the FBI and the courts simply because the company has decided not to unlock its iPhones. 

Mr. Cook, we applaud Apple’s innovative spirit and customer dedication. Please bear in mind that your customers are also our customers—customers who FBI Agents are sworn to protect from criminals and terrorists. Our customers deserve a means of ensuring that the drive for profits does not come at the cost of public safety.


Reynaldo Tariche
President, FBI Agents Association 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Federal Times Article on Budget Deal Quotes FBIAA President

A new Federal Times article quotes a number of experts saying that the newly unveiled congressional budget agreement should lessen the need for furloughs in government agencies.

The article concludes that the Defense Department will benefit from the agreement which will hold off cuts slated to begin next month.

From the article -

"Leaders of the FBI Agents Association, who warned last week that furloughs would disrupt critical crime-fighting operations, 'are very pleased' that lawmakers reached a compromise, President Reynaldo Tariche said Wednesday.

Until the FBI’s final budget is known, however, the association is otherwise 'reserving our judgment,' he said."

Read the full article for reactions to the budget deal from the Bureau and others.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

NPR Blog Post Features FBIAA on Bipartisan Budget Deal

Carrie Johnson, a Justice reporter for NPR, took to the outlet's The Two-Way blog to write about FBIAA's opinion on the recently unveiled bipartisan budget deal.

Johnson notes that FBI agents have thus far "been among the most vocal opponents of the spending cuts triggered by sequestration, warning about everything from having to abandon surveillance work to a lack of gas money."

But, she writes, in an effort to prevent further cuts next year, FBIAA "is throwing its clout behind" the Ryan-Murray budget deal.

And with good reason.

She writes, "The sequestration fallout for the bureau has been significant — no new hires, empty parking lots at the training center in Quantico, Va., and damaged relationships with local and international police."

Read Johnson's full post which includes quotes from FBIAA President Rey Tariche showing support for the deal while also expressing concern about provisions requiring Agents and others to pay more into their pension plans.

FBIAA President Ray Tariche Sends a Letter to Senator Patty Murray and Representative Paul Ryan

A congressional budget deal between the House and Senate was announced last night.

Called the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, the deal is the result of negotiations over the past few weeks by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA).  It still has to pass through Congress, but it would set spending for the next fiscal year at $1.012 trillion and increase it to $1.014 trillion the year after that.

As the Huffington Post and others have reported, the Act pays for the spending increases in part by requiring both federal workers and military personnel to contribute a greater portion of their own funds to their pensions.

FBIAA President Rey Tariche sent a letter on behalf of the FBIAA membership expressing support for the lawmakers' efforts to avoid further sequestration cuts but also voicing concern about the impacts of increased pension contribution requirements on FBI Agents.

Rey wrote, "On behalf of the FBI Agents Association ("FBIAA") a voluntary professional association currently representing over 12,000 active duty and retired FBI Agents, I write to express the FBIAA's support for the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, which would help prevent the next round of devastating cuts to the FBI's budget."

"However," he continued, "we do not believe that avoiding these cuts should require that Agents receive a cut in their pay in the form of increased pension contributions.  Agent pay and benefits are not the cause of this country's fiscal problems, and cutting these benefits have minimal impact on reducing the deficit."

Read Rey's full letter below.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Have you heard our Voices from the Field?

Our Voices from the Field report contains first-hand accounts from FBI Special Agents.  The stories illustrate how recent budget cuts affect our work and the risks associated with any additional budget cuts or furloughs.

We released the first FBI Agents Association Voices from the Field report in October 2013 and we've been updating it with more stories and analysis since.

We released the report to ensure that Congress, the Administration, and the public are aware of the strain already placed on federal law enforcement budgets, and the risks that further cuts could pose to the safety of our nation.

To read the Agents stories', click the link below.

Monday, December 9, 2013

POLITICO Reports: "Year 2 of sequestration: Gloom looming"

One of the most read Washington, DC-based news sources, POLITICO, published an article on Sunday about sequestration.  We were especially pleased to see this coverage because the article places us and our concerns squarely in the center of the budget and sequestration controversy.  With a budget deal expected to be announced and voted on by the House in next few days, this is an important article.

Look for the mention of FBIAA on page 2 -

"'The good news is they are talking. They told us they are talking. And the decorum has gotten I think better,' said Reynaldo Tariche, president of the FBI Agents Association. His group met last week with aides to Ryan and Murray to describe what could happen at the FBI if the lawmakers can’t strike a deal: Ten to 15 days of furloughs, empty classrooms at the bureau’s Quantico, Va., training center and diminished capacity to respond to threats from terrorists and home-grown criminals."

Medill National Security Zone: Latest in FBIAA NEWSMAKER Coverage

Medill National Security Zone is the latest to publish an article about last week's NEWSMAKER event.

The 15-paragraph summary of the event is available online here.  Read it for a reminder of the warnings FBIAA leadership issued about furloughs, hiring freezes and a decrease in resources for ongoing and new investigations.

The article captured a specifically compelling narrative offered by Association Vice President Thomas O’Connor, “If on the 16th of September [when the Navy Yard shooting occurred], half of our office was furloughed, it would have been much more difficult to get those resources to the scene.  The SWAT team would have not been in a position to respond as quickly. If everybody’s home … it’s going to be the phone tree to get people in. It’s going to be much more difficult.”