All five are now on the record against Apple.
The question of what Apple should be compelled to do about the San Bernardino iPhone came up at the GOP debate Thursday night.
Donald Trump wasn’t asked where he stood because he’d already made his position abundantly clear (“I would come down so hard on [CEO Tim Cook]—you have no idea—his head would be spinning all of the way back to Silicon Valley.”)
But the other four Republican candidates for President still standing—Carlo Rubio, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson and John Kasich—used the opportunity to say that Apple should be forced to comply, accepting at face value the Department of Justice’s assertion that it is not asking the company to create a “back door.”
Here’s what they said:
CNN’s WOLF BLITZER: I want to talk—I want to talk about ISIS right now, and the federal government—how much best to keep Americans safe from ISIS. There’s a huge battle underway right now between the tech giant Apple and the federal government. The federal government wants Apple to unlock the phone used by that San Bernardino terrorist to prevent future attacks. Apple has refused, saying it would compromise the security of all of its customers. And just this afternoon, they went to court to block the judge’s order.
Dana Bash, pick up the questioning.
BASH: Senator Rubio, you say it’s complicated, and that, quote, “Apple isn’t necessarily wrong to refuse the court order.” Why shouldn’t investigators have everything at their disposal?
RUBIO: No, in fact what I have said is the only thing—the FBI made this very clear 48 hours ago—the only thing they are asking of Apple is that Apple allow them to use their own systems in the FBI to try to guess the password of the San Bernardino killer. Apple initially came out saying, “We’re being ordered to create a back door to an encryption device.” That is not accurate.
The only thing they’re being asked to do, and the FBI made this very clear about 48 hours ago, is allow us to disable the self-destruct mode that’s in the Apple phone so that we can try to guess using our own systems what the password of this killer was.
And I think they should comply with that. If that’s all they’re asking for, they are not asking for Apple to create a back door to encryption.
BASH: So just to be clear, you did say on CNN a couple of weeks ago this is a complicated issue; Apple is not necessarily wrong here.
RUBIO: Because at the time, Apple was portraying that the court order was to create a back door to an encryption device.
BASH: But just to be clear—just to be clear, if you are President, would you instruct your Justice Department to force Apple to comply or not?
RUBIO: To comply with an order that says that they have to allow the FBI the opportunity to try to guess the password?
RUBIO: Absolutely. That Apple phone didn’t even belong to the killer. It belonged to the killer’s employee (sic) who have agreed to allow him to try to do this. That is all they’re asking them to do is to disable the self-destruct mode or the auto-erase mode on one phone in the entire world. But Apple doesn’t want to do it because they think it hurts their brand.
Well, let me tell you, their brand is not superior to the national security of the United States of America.
BASH: Senator Cruz, Apple CEO Tim Cook says this would be bad for America. Where do you stand: national security or personal privacy?
CRUZ: Well, as you know, at that same CNN forum, both Marco and I were asked this question. His answer, he was on both sides of the fence. He’s now agreeing with me. And so I’m glad.
What I said is yes, Apple should be forced to comply with this court order. Why? Because under the Fourth Amendment, a search and seizure is reasonable if it has judicial authorization and probable cause. In this instance, the order is not put a back door in everyone’s cell phone. If that was the order, that order would be problematic because it would compromise security and safety for everyone.
I would agree with Apple on that broad policy question. But on the question of unlocking this cell phone of a terrorist, we should enforce the court order and find out everyone that terrorist at San Bernardino talked to on the phone, texted with, e-mailed. And absolutely, Apple doesn’t have a right to defy a valid court order in a terrorism investigation.
BASH: Dr. Carson, Tim Cook, again, the CEO of Apple, says that this would be bad for America. What do you think?
CARSON: I think allowing terrorist to get away with things is bad for America.
You know, we have the—we have a Constitution. We have a Fourth Amendment. It guards us against illegal and unreasonable search and seizure. But we have mechanisms in place with the judicial system that will allow us to gain material that is necessary to benefit the nation as a whole or the community as a whole. And that’s why we have FISA courts and things of that nature.
So absolutely, I would—I would expect Apple to comply with the court order. If they don’t comply with that, you’re encouraging chaos in our system.
BASH: Mr. Trump…
KASICH: I want to weigh in on this please. I want to just tell you that the problem is not right now between the administration and Apple. You know what the problem is? Where’s the president been? You sit down in a back room and you sit down with the parties and you get this worked out. You don’t litigate this on the front page of the New York Times, where everybody in the world is reading about their dirty laundry out here.
The president of the United States should be convening a meeting, should have convened a meeting with Apple and our security forces. And then you know what you do when you’re the president? You lock the door and you say you’re not coming out until you reach an agreement that both gives the security people what they need and protects the rights of Americans. This is a failure of his leadership to get this done as an executive should be doing it.
And I’ll tell you, that’s why you want a governor. I do this all the time. And we reach agreements all the time. Because as an executive, you’ve got to solve problems instead of fighting on the front page of the newspaper.