FBI sends foot soldier to today’s House encryption hearing

Apple sent its lead attorney Bruce Sewell to testify in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on encryption backdoors today, but the FBI saw fit to send someone down the command chain from director James Comey, at whose desk the buck must stop in these matters. 

Testifying on behalf of the bureau today was Ms. Amy Hess, the FBI’s executive assistant director for science and technology.  Both Sewell and Comey testified at a March 1 hearing in front of the House Judiciary Committee. 

Ms. Hess commented that terrorists would continue using U.S.-made tech products even after Congress mandated the products contain backdoors for law enforcement access, while foreign made products remain airtight. This, she testified, is because “the best products are made here in the U.S. and I think most people will want to use those products.” 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story referred to Ms. Hess as “low-ranking.” This is a mischaracterization. According to the FBI’s org chart, Hess reports to the FBI deputy director and to Comey. An FBI spokesman said of Hess: “. . . in addition to being one of the highest ranking executives in the FBI, she is inarguably the senior FBI executive for the subject matter of today’s hearing.” I regret the error. MS