FBI chief calls unbreakable encryption ‘urgent public safety issue’

FILE PHOTO: FBI Director Christopher Wray delivers remarks to a graduation ceremony at the FBI Academy on the grounds of Marine Corps Base Quantico in Quantico, Virginia, U.S. December 15, 2017.

By Dustin Volz

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The inability of law enforcement authorities to access data from electronic devices due to powerful encryption is an “urgent public safety issue,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday as he sought to renew a contentious debate over privacy and security.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation was unable to access data from nearly 7,800 devices in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 with technical tools despite possessing proper legal authority to pry them open, a growing figure that impacts every area of the agency’s work, Wray said during a speech at a cyber security conference in New York.

The FBI has been unable to access data in more than half of the devices that it tried to unlock due to encryption, Wray added.

“This is an urgent public safety issue,” Wray added, while saying that a solution is “not so clear cut.”

Technology companies and many digital security experts have said that the FBI’s attempts to require that devices allow investigators a way to access a criminal suspect’s cellphone would harm internet security and empower malicious hackers. U.S. lawmakers, meanwhile, have expressed little interest in pursuing legislation to require companies to create products whose contents are accessible to authorities who obtain a warrant.

Wray’s comments at the International Conference on Cyber Security were his most extensive yet as FBI director about the so-called Going Dark problem, which his agency and local law enforcement authorities for years have said bedevils countless investigations. Wray took over as FBI chief in August.

The FBI supports strong encryption and information security broadly, Wray said, but described the current status quo as untenable.

“We face an enormous and increasing number of cases that rely heavily, if not exclusively, on electronic evidence,” Wray told an audience of FBI agents, international law enforcement representatives and private sector cyber professionals. A solution requires “significant innovation,” Wray said, “but I just do not buy the claim that it is impossible.”

Wray’s remarks echoed those of his predecessor, James Comey, who before being fired by President Donald Trump in May frequently spoke about the dangers of unbreakable encryption.

Tech companies and many cyber security experts have said that any measure ensuring that law enforcement authorities are able to access data from encrypted products would weaken cyber security for everyone.

U.S. officials have said that default encryption settings on cellphones and other devices hinder their ability to collect evidence needed to pursue criminals.

The matter came to a head in 2016 when the Justice Department tried unsuccessfully to force Apple Inc to break into an iPhone used by a gunman during a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.

The Trump administration at times has taken a tougher stance on the issue than former President Barack Obama’s administration. U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in October chastised technology companies for building strongly encrypted products, suggesting Silicon Valley is more willing to comply with foreign government demands for data than those made by their home country.

(Reporting by Dustin Volz; Editing by Will Dunham)

Justice Dept. launches new Clinton Foundation probe: The Hill

: A Clinton Foundation souvenir is seen for sale at the Clinton Museum Store in Little Rock, Arkansas, United States April 27, 2015.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department has begun an investigation into whether the Clinton Foundation conducted “pay-to-play” politics or other illegal activities during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, The Hill reported on Thursday, citing law enforcement officials and a witness.

The newspaper said FBI agents from Little Rock, Arkansas, where the foundation began, had taken the lead in the investigation and interviewed at least one witness in the past month. Law enforcement officials told The Hill that additional activities were expected in coming weeks.

In response to a request for confirmation, a Justice Department spokeswoman said the agency did not comment on ongoing investigations.

There was no immediate response to a request for comment by officials at the Clinton Foundation. The organization previously said there was never any trade in policy decisions for contributions.

Democrats have accused Republicans of launching a spurious investigation of Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, to divert attention from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between President Donald Trump’s election campaign and Russia.

The Hill reported that the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the probe was examining whether the Clintons promised or performed any policy favors in return for contributions to their charitable efforts or whether donors promised to make donations in hopes of government outcomes.

The probe may also examine whether any tax-exempt assets were converted for personal or political use and whether the foundation complied with tax laws, the newspaper cited the officials as saying.

A witness recently interviewed by the FBI told The Hill the agents’ questions focused on government decisions and discussions of donations to Clinton entities during the time Hillary Clinton led President Barack Obama’s State Department.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions asked Justice Department prosecutors to decide if a special counsel should be appointed to investigate certain Republican concerns, including alleged wrongdoing by the Clinton Foundation and the sale of a uranium company to Russia, according to media reports in November.

(Reporting by Eric Walsh; Editing by Peter Cooney)

FBI officials said Clinton ‘has to win’ race to White House: NYT

FBI officials said Clinton 'has to win' race to White House: NYT

(Reuters) – Senior FBI officials who helped probe Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign told a colleague that Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had to win the race to the White House, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

Peter Strzok, a senior FBI agent, said Clinton “just has to win” in a text sent to FBI lawyer Lisa Page, the Times reported.

The messages showed concern from Strzok and Page that a Trump presidency could politicize the FBI, the report said, citing texts turned over to Congress and obtained by the newspaper. http://nyti.ms/2AOHylP

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz is investigating the texts in a probe into FBI’s handling of its investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server for official correspondence when she was Secretary of State under former President Barack Obama, the report added.

Strzok was removed from working on the Russia probe after media reports earlier this month suggested he had exchanged text messages that disparaged Trump and supported Clinton.

Strzok was involved in both the Clinton email and Russia investigations.

Republicans, including Trump, have in recent weeks ramped up their attacks on the FBI and questioned its integrity.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller and congressional committees are investigating possible links between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia. Russia denies meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections.

The FBI, the Democratic National Committee and the White House did not respond to a request for comment outside regular business hours.

Reuters was unable to contact Peter Strzok and Lisa Page for comment.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Sunil Nair)

Flynn pleads guilty to lying on Russia, cooperates with U.S. probe

Flynn pleads guilty to lying on Russia, cooperates with U.S. probe

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty on Friday to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia, and he agreed to cooperate with prosecutors delving into the actions of President Donald Trump’s inner circle before he took office.

The dramatic turn of events also raised new questions about whether Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, had a role in those Russia contacts.

Flynn was the first member of Trump’s administration to plead guilty to a crime uncovered by special counsel Robert Mueller’s wide-ranging investigation into Russian attempts to influence the 2016 U.S. election and potential collusion by Trump aides.

Under a plea bargain deal, Flynn admitted in a Washington court that he lied when asked by FBI investigators about his conversations last December with Russia’s then-ambassador, Sergei Kislyak, just weeks before Trump took office.

Prosecutors said the two men discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia and that Flynn also asked Kislyak to help delay a U.N. vote seen as damaging to Israel. On both occasions, he appeared to be undermining the policies of outgoing President Barack Obama.

They also said a “very senior member” of Trump’s transition team had told Flynn to contact Russia and other foreign governments to try to influence them ahead of the U.N. vote.

Sources told Reuters that the “very senior” official was Kushner, a key member of Trump’s transition team and now the president’s senior adviser.

Kushner’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. He has previously said Kushner has voluntarily cooperated with all relevant inquiries and would continue to do so.

Flynn’s decision to cooperate with Mueller’s team marked a major escalation in a probe that has dogged the president since he took office in January.

There was nothing in the court hearing that pointed to any evidence against Trump, and the White House said Flynn’s guilty plea implicated him alone.

“Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn,” said Ty Cobb, a White House attorney.

Flynn, a retired army lieutenant general, only served as Trump’s national security adviser for 24 days. He was forced to resign after he was found to have misled Vice President Mike Pence about his discussions with Kislyak.

But Flynn had been an enthusiastic supporter of Trump’s election campaign and the president continued to praise him even after he left the administration, saying Flynn had been treated “very, very unfairly” by the news media.

A small group of protesters yelled “Lock him up!” as Flynn left the courthouse on Friday, echoing the “Lock her up!” chant that Flynn himself led against Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, in vitriolic appearances on the campaign trail.

SANCTIONS

Mueller’s team is also looking at whether members of Trump’s campaign may have sought to ease sanctions on Russia in return for financial gain or because Russian officials held some leverage over them, people familiar with the probe say.

Prosecutors said Flynn and Kislyak last December discussed economic sanctions that Obama’s administration had just imposed on Moscow for allegedly interfering in the election.

Flynn asked Kislyak to refrain from escalating a diplomatic dispute with Washington over the sanctions, and later falsely told FBI officials that he did not make that request, court documents showed.

Prosecutors said Flynn had earlier consulted with a senior member of Trump’s presidential transition team about what to communicate to the Russian ambassador.

“Flynn called the Russian ambassador and requested that Russia not escalate the situation and only respond to the U.S. sanctions in a reciprocal manner,” the prosecutors said in court documents, adding that Flynn then called the Trump official again to recount the conversation with Kislyak.

They did not name the senior official in the Trump team but U.S. media reports identified former adviser K.T. McFarland as the person. Reuters was unable to verify the reports.

On Dec. 28, 2016, the day before prosecutors say the call between the Trump aides took place, Trump had publicly played down the need to sanction Russia for allegedly hacking U.S. Democratic operatives.

“I think we ought to get on with our lives. I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly,” Trump told reporters at his Mar-a-Lago Florida resort.

TESTIMONY

Ryan Goodman, a professor at New York University Law School, said Flynn’s plea deal shows Mueller is scrutinizing the truthfulness of testimony given to his investigators. Kushner is potentially liable for making false statements if his testimony is contradicted by Flynn, Goodman said.

Earlier on Friday, ABC News cited a Flynn confidant as saying Flynn was ready to testify that Trump directed him to make contact with Russians before he became president, initially as a way to work together to fight the Islamic State group in Syria.

Reuters could not immediately verify the ABC News report.

U.S. stocks, the dollar and Treasury yields fell sharply after the ABC report, although they partially rebounded on optimism that a Republican bill to cut taxes will be approved in the U.S. Senate.

If Trump directed Flynn to contact Russian officials, that might not necessarily amount to a crime. It would be a crime if it were proven that Trump directed Flynn to lie to the FBI.

Moscow has denied what U.S. intelligence agencies say was meddling in the election campaign to try to sway the vote in Trump’s favor. Trump has called Mueller’s probe a witch hunt.

In May, the president fired FBI Director James Comey, who later accused Trump of trying to hinder his investigation into the Russia allegations. Comey also said he believed Trump had asked him to drop the FBI’s probe into Flynn.

Comey on Friday tweeted a cryptic message about justice.

“But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream, ‘Amos 5:24’,” he wrote, quoting the Biblical book of Amos.

Paul Manafort, who ran Trump’s presidential campaign for several months last year, was charged in October with conspiring to launder money, conspiracy against the United States and failing to register as a foreign agent of Ukraine’s former pro-Russian government.

Manafort, who did not join Trump’s administration, and a business associate who was charged with him both pleaded not guilty.

(Additional reporting by Susan Heavey, Tim Ahmann, John Walcott, Mark Hosenball and Nathan Layne in Washington and Jan Wolfe in New York; Writing by Alistair Bell and Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Frances Kerry and Mary Milliken)

Flynn prepared to testify Trump directed him to contact Russians: ABC

Flynn prepared to testify Trump directed him to contact Russians: ABC

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – ABC News reported on Friday that former U.S. national security adviser Michael Flynn is prepared to testify that President Donald Trump directed him to make contact with Russians when he was a presidential candidate.

Reuters could not immediately verify the report, which cited a Flynn confidant. The news sent U.S. stocks sharply lower. [nL3N1O14E8]

Flynn, a former top Trump campaign aide and a central figure in a federal investigation into Moscow’s alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, pleaded guilty on Friday to lying to the FBI.

His plea agreement, and his decision to cooperate with the investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, marked a major escalation in a probe that has dogged Trump’s administration since the Republican president took office in January.

Flynn acknowledged making false statements about contacts he had with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak, last year. The charges carry sentence of up to five years in prison.

Flynn was fired from his White House post in February for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with the ambassador.

Moscow has denied a conclusion by U.S. intelligence agencies that it meddled in the election campaign to try to sway the vote in Trump’s favor. Trump has denied any collusion by his campaign.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey and Tim Ahmann; Additional reporting by John Walcott and Nathan Layne; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Border Patrol attack leaves one agent dead, another seriously injured

picture of area in Culberson county, Texas

By Kami Klein

A U.S. Border Patrol agent and his partner were attacked in the Big Bend Sector of Culberson County in Texas.  Agent Rogelio Martinez died this morning from his injuries sustained in the attack,while his partner,who has not been identified, is still hospitalized in serious condition.  According to press releases, there was no gunfire involved in the incident.  Both men sustained blunt force trauma to the head.

Agent Martinez, 36 had been a border patrol agent since August 2013.  He and his partner were responding to activity while on patrol near interstate 10 in the Van Horn station area. The region’s mountains and the Rio Grande do not offer the best crossing opportunities for illegal immigrants crossing into the United States from Mexico.  The Border Patrol records show that the Big Bend area only accounted for only about  1 percent of the more than 61,000 apprehensions that have been made along the Southwest border from October 2016 to May 2016..

map of Culberson County Texas

map of Culberson County Texas

After the attack, Agent Martinez’s partner was able to report that they were both injured and needed assistance.  When discovered, the two were transported to a local hospital.  Border Patrol agents and the Culberson county Sheriff’s Department secured the scene and are searching for witnesses or potential suspects. The investigation has since been turned over to the FBI.  

According to a news report with  NBC news, Chris Cabrera, a spokesman for the National Border Patrol Council labor union and a patrol agent, said the Martinez was hit several times in the head with a blunt object, possibly a large rock.

“We’ve had agents, a good friend of mine actually almost lost his eye. It happens quite a bit, unfortunately,” Cabrera said, adding that patrol vehicles, including helicopters, have been damaged by the throwing of rocks.

Cabrera said the type of rocks that agents are struck with are large in size, approximately as big as a grapefruit or softball. Border Patrol agents have also reported the use of Concrete blocks.

Fox news reported that although few details about the incident have been released, Brandon Judd, the president of the National Border Patrol Council, told Fox News on Monday it appeared Martinez and the second agent were “ambushed” by a group of illegal immigrants.

“We don’t know exactly what happened because we weren’t there. However, just from agents that were working in the area, reports are saying it was an attack and it would appear to be an ambush,” Judd said.

As of Monday afternoon no suspects have been apprehended.  

The attack compelled a tweet from President Trump saying,  

 “Border Patrol Officer killed at Southern Border, another badly hurt. We will seek out and bring to justice those responsible. We will, and must, build the Wall!”

Last year,  Border Patrol Chief Mark Morgan first revealed an increase of attacks in October and November of last year during testimony before the U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee, where there had been a total of 149 incidents of illegals assaulting guards,  Acknowledging the more that 200 percent increase in assaults on agents this year, Morgan testified that Border Patrol agents are “the most assaulted federal law enforcement (agents) in the United States. More than 7,400 Border Patrol agents have been assaulted since 2006. That rose in  2016 by 20%, and year-to-date, we’re seeing an increase of assaults of 200% from the previous year-to-date. It’s a dangerous job.”

Sources:   Fox news, NBC news, Briebart news, U.S. Customs and Border Protection  

U.S. hate crimes rise for second straight year: FBI

U.S. hate crimes rise for second straight year: FBI

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The number of hate crimes committed in the United States rose in 2016 for the second consecutive year, with African-Americans, Jews and Muslims targeted in many of the incidents, the FBI said on Monday in an annual report.

There were 6,121 hate crime incidents recorded last year, an almost 5 percent rise from 2015 and a 10 percent increase from 2014, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Hate Crimes Statistics report said. It did not give a reason for the rise.

Black Americans were targeted in about half the 3,489 incidents based on race, ethnicity or ancestry, the report said, followed by whites who were targeted in 720.

About half the 1,273 incidents that involved religion were against Jews. Muslims were targeted in 307 religion-based crimes, up 19 percent from 2015 and double the number in 2014.

There were 1,076 incidents involving lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people, with almost two-thirds of those targeting gay men.

The hate crimes recorded last year included nine murders and 24 rapes, the report said. Of the 5,770 known offenders, 46 percent were white and 26 percent were African-American.

The report was based on data voluntarily submitted by about 15,000 law enforcement agencies.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; editing by Grant McCool)

Air Force missed at least two chances to stop Texas shooter buying guns

Crosses are seen placed at a memorial in memory of the victims killed in the shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 8, 2017.

By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. Air Force missed at least two chances to block the shooter in last weekend’s deadly church attack in Texas from buying guns after he was accused of a violent offense in 2012, according to current and former government officials and a review of military documents.

A third opportunity to flag shooter Devin Kelley was lost two years later by a twist of bad luck when a Pentagon inspection of cases narrowly missed the former airman.

The Air Force said on Monday it had failed to provide information as required about Kelley’s criminal history to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s criminal databases. It gave few other details about the omission.

A review of Department of Defense procedures by Reuters shows that the military twice should have flagged Kelley, then serving at a New Mexico base, after he was accused of repeatedly beating his wife and stepson.

If Pentagon rules had been followed, the Air Force should have put Kelley into national criminal databases used for background checks soon after he was charged.

The Air Force should then have flagged Kelley, 26, again later that year after his court-martial conviction for assault, which permanently disqualified him from legally getting a gun.

When presented with this account of how the FBI was not alerted about Kelley, Air Force officials confirmed the procedures that should have happened.

“That is what the investigation is looking at now,” Brooke Brzozowske, an Air Force spokeswoman, said. The FBI confirmed it never received Kelley’s records.

Kelley bought guns from a store in Texas in 2016 and 2017, although it is not clear whether these were the weapons he used last Sunday to attack churchgoers in Sutherland Springs before killing himself. Authorities said he killed 26 people, including a pregnant woman’s unborn child.

If the Air Force had flagged Kelley to the FBI either when he was charged and convicted, he would have been unable to get a gun legally.

Reuters has been unable to determine exactly how or why Kelley’s records were not shared.

Kelley also narrowly slipped through the system in 2014 when the Pentagon’s inspector general told the Air Force it was routinely failing to send criminal records to the FBI, and urged them to correct this in some old cases like Kelley’s

The then inspector general, Jon Rymer, raised the alarm with the military.

He looked at 358 convictions against Air Force employees between June 2010, and October 2012. In about a third of those cases, fingerprints and court-martial outcomes were wrongly not relayed to the FBI, the inspector general’s report said.

Rymer recommended that the Air Force send what missing fingerprints and records it could from his sample period to the FBI, and the Air Force agreed. But Kelley was convicted in November 2012, a week after the sample period ended, and it appears that his case was never looked at again.

The inspector general’s office said it was investigating what happened with Kelley’s file, and suggested that the military should have done more after its report to correct errors in sharing information.

“Our recommendations, while directed at the period that was reviewed and future investigations, also applied to the entire system,” said Dwrena Allen, a spokeswoman for the inspector general’s office.

 

FIRST MISTAKE

According to statements from the Air Force and FBI and a review of Defense Department rules, the first mistake came when the Air Force failed to send along Kelley’s fingerprints.

The military makes it mandatory to collect fingerprints when someone is accused of a serious crime such as assault, as Kelley was in June 2012.

By then, the U.S. military had recently switched to using the FBI’s automated records-submission system for all fingerprints, which digitally scans prints and adds them to FBI databases.

It was not clear what happened to Kelley’s fingerprints. The Air Force said it was investigating whether they were even taken.

Entering his fingerprints and other information in the FBI’s so-called Interstate Identification Index (III) would have been enough to flag Kelley as needing further investigation in 2016 when he tried to buy a gun at a San Antonio store.

“When they hit on a record like that they delay the transaction,” said Frank Campbell, a former Justice Department employee who helped develop the FBI’s background check system that licensed gun dealers must consult before a potential sale.

The FBI would then have asked the Air Force the outcome of Kelley’s case. The airman was convicted of a crime involving domestic violence that carries a maximum penalty of more than one year in prison, both of which disqualify a person from buying guns and ammunition under federal law.

The FBI could have then added Kelley’s name to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System Indices (NICS Indices), which would mean he would instantly fail future background checks.

Instead, Kelley cleared the background check and walked out of the store with a gun, and returned the following year, passed another background check and bought a second one, the store said.

According to Defense Department rules, the Air Force should have caught its error after Kelley’s court-martial ended when it was obliged to notify the FBI that Kelley had been convicted, and that his crime involved domestic violence

The FBI said on Wednesday it had no record in its three databases for background checks, including the III database and the NICS Indices, of ever receiving information from the Air Force about Kelley’s conviction.

Air Force officials said it was the responsibility of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, the force’s law enforcement agency, to take fingerprints and share any necessary information with the FBI, and it was not immediately clear why it had not.

 

(Additional reporting by Tim Reid in Sutherland Springs, Texas; Editing by Dina Kyriakidou and Alistair Bell)

 

FBI may have lost critical time unlocking Texas shooter’s iPhone

FBI may have lost critical time unlocking Texas shooter's iPhone

By Stephen Nellis and Dustin Volz

SAN FRANCISCO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – For about 48 hours after a deadly rampage at a Texas church, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies did not ask Apple Inc to help them unlock the gunman’s iPhone or associated online accounts, a person familiar with the situation told Reuters on Wednesday.

A cellphone belonging to Devin Kelley – accused of killing 26 people on Sunday before taking his own life – was sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Quantico, Virginia, crime lab because authorities could not unlock it, Christopher Combs, head of the FBI’s San Antonio field office, said on Tuesday.

Combs did not specify what kind of phone Kelley had during the attack in Sutherland Springs, Texas, but a second person familiar with the situation confirmed to Reuters that it was an iPhone.

The first source said that in the 48 hours between the shooting and Combs’ news conference, Apple had received no requests from federal, state or local law enforcement authorities for technical assistance with Kelley’s phone or his associated online accounts at Apple.

The delay may prove important. If Kelley had used a fingerprint to lock his iPhone, Apple could have told officials they could use the dead man’s finger to unlock his device, so long as the phone had not been powered off and restarted.

But iPhones locked with a fingerprint ask for the user’s pass code after 48 hours if they have not been unlocked by then.

Officials also could have asked for data from Kelley’s iCloud online storage account if he had one. If Apple receives a warrant or court order, it will give law enforcement authorities iCloud data, as well as the keys needed to decrypt it.

If an iPhone user backs up an iPhone using iCloud, the online data can contain texts, photographs and other information from the phone.

The first Reuters source said the FBI had yet to ask as of Wednesday for assistance unlocking the device. It could not be learned whether Apple had received a court order to turn over iCloud account data. It also could not be learned whether the FBI had tried to use Kelley’s fingerprint and failed to unlock his phone despite not contacting Apple.

The FBI declined to comment when asked about the type of phone used by Kelly. A spokeswoman referred to Combs’ news conference on Tuesday.

The FBI has criticized Apple for how difficult it is to obtain data from its devices when they are locked. The phones contain a so-called “secure enclave” that makes it difficult to crack their encryption, and too many errant attempts to unlock an iPhone can erase all data.

The FBI challenged Apple in court over access to an iPhone after a 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, in which a couple authorities said was inspired by Islamic State killed 14 people. The couple died in a shootout with police hours after the massacre. An iPhone 5C, recovered by authorities, did not have a fingerprint sensor.

The legal issues in the case were never settled because the FBI found third-party software that allowed it to crack the device.

But federal authorities were accused of missteps in unlocking the San Bernardino phone.

Last year, Apple executives who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity criticized government officials who reset the Apple identification associated with the phone, which closed off the possibility of recovering information from it through the automatic cloud backup.

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco and Dustin Volz and David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Jonathan Weber, Jonathan Oatis and Howard Goller)

Exclusive: FBI agents raid headquarters of major U.S. body broker

Exclusive: FBI agents raid headquarters of major U.S. body broker

By John Shiffman and Brian Grow

PORTLAND, Oregon (Reuters) – Federal agents have seized records from a national company that solicits thousands of Americans to donate their bodies to science each year, then profits by dissecting the parts and distributing them for use by researchers and educators.

The search warrant executed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation at MedCure Inc headquarters here on November 1 is sealed, and the bureau and the company declined to comment on the nature of the FBI investigation. But people familiar with the matter said the inquiry concerns the manner in which MedCure distributes body parts acquired from its donors.

MedCure is among the largest brokers of cadavers and body parts in the United States. From 2011 through 2015, documents obtained under public-record laws show, the company received more than 11,000 donated bodies and distributed more than 51,000 body parts to medical industry customers nationally. In a current brochure, the company says that 80,000 additional people have pledged to donate their bodies to MedCure when they die.

FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele confirmed the day-long search of the 25,000-square-foot facility, but declined to comment further because the matter is under seal. A person familiar with the matter said that FBI agents took records from MedCure but did not remove human remains.

The search warrant, though sealed, signals that an FBI investigation of MedCure has reached an advanced stage. To obtain a search warrant to seize records, rather than demand them via subpoena, FBI agents must provide a detailed affidavit to a U.S. magistrate with evidence to support probable cause that crimes have been committed and that related records may be on the premises.

“MedCure is fully cooperating with the FBI, and looks forward to resolving whatever questions the government may have about their business,” said Jeffrey Edelson, a Portland attorney who represents the company. “Out of respect for the integrity of the process, we do not believe that further comment is appropriate at this time.”

It is illegal to profit from the sale of organs destined for transplant, such as hearts and kidneys. But as a Reuters series detailed last month, it is legal in most U.S. states to sell donated whole bodies or their dissected parts, such as arms and heads, for medical research, training and education.

Commonly known as body brokers, these businesses often profit by targeting people too poor to afford a burial or cremation. Reuters documented how people who donate their bodies to science may be unwittingly contributing to commerce. Few states regulate the body donation industry, and those that do so have different rules, enforced with varying degrees of thoroughness. Body parts can be bought with ease in the United States. A Reuters reporter bought two heads and a spine from a Tennessee broker with just a few emails.

MedCure, founded in 2005, is based outside Portland, Oregon, and has offices in Nevada, Florida, Rhode Island and Missouri, as well as Amsterdam, the Netherlands. At some locations, including the one near Portland, MedCure provides training labs for doctors and health professionals to practice surgical techniques. MedCure also sends body parts and technicians to assist with medical conferences across the country.

MedCure is accredited by the American Association of Tissue Banks, a national organization that primarily works with transplant tissue banks. The broker is also licensed by the state health departments in Oregon and New York, among the few states that conduct inspections. According to Oregon state health records, officials renewed MedCure’s license in January, following a routine on-site review.

The Reuters series, “The Body Trade,” can be read at https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-bodies-brokers/

(Edited by Michael Williams)