AG Lynch Mum on Encryption Role in Orlando Shooting

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said at a House Judiciary Committee hearing today that she was not yet “able to provide insight” into whether Omar Mateen, the perpetrator in the killings of 49 people last month in a nightclub in Orlando, Fla., had used encrypted communications in connection with the attack, and whether the Justice Department has had any problems gaining access to any social media accounts he may have used.

“We are still reviewing a vast amount of evidence” of the murders, Ms. Lynch said today in response to questions from committee members, adding she was “not able to provide insight on encryption at this time.”   Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey has been a strong advocate in recent months of finding a government-industry solution to the inability of the FBI to access the contents of encrypted communications in the pursue of criminals and terrorists.

Questioning at today’s hearing was dominated by DoJ’s investigation into the use of a private e-mail server by former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, and the conclusion presented last week by Mr. Comey that he would not recommend prosecution of Ms. Clinton for any criminal wrongdoing in connection with her use of the server.

At today’s hearing, Ms. Lynch declined to offer comment on a question by Rep. Steve King (R., Iowa) regarding whether it should be assumed that the private e-mail server used by Ms. Clinton had been hacked by hostile nation-states, and whether such a hack would be comparable to leaks of National Security Agency intelligence gathering methods by former NSA contract worker Edward Snowden.

Mr. Comey told members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last week (TRDaily, July 7) that the FBI uncovered no evidence that Ms. Clinton’s private e-mail server had been hacked, but that FBI was able to discern that attempts had been made to hack the server. – John Curran, john.curran@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily