Unlikely That FBI Will Share Hacking Tool Used to Unlock San Bernardino iPhone with Apple

Matt Dean, Fox News

It is unlikely that the government will disclose to Apple the third party method used to unlock the iPhone 5C that belonged to San Bernardino gunman Syed Farook, according to law enforcement sources close to the matter. 

These sources tell Fox that the FBI is drafting a letter to the White House recommending that it not pursue an interagency review of whether or not to share this method with Apple due to the fact that the agency knows little about the intricacies behind the tool or the actual vulnerability that was exploited.

What FBI purchased from the undisclosed third party, according to these sources, was essentially a tailored tool that successfully exploited a vulnerability in the iOS 9 operating system running on an iPhone 5C. Fox is told that the agency does not know the source code behind that hacking tool or the specific vulnerability that was exploited, therefore making it unnecessary to share that tool with Apple. 

Fox is told that the technical details behind this tool remain with the third party. 

Fox News reported back on April 7, citing intelligence sources, that to unlock the device that belonged to Farook, FBI essentially purchased a "zero day" from the undisclosed third party. A "Zero Day" is a previously unknown vulnerability to a specific piece of computer software that cyber actors exploit to gain access to a system or override certain functionalities. 

Zero Days serve as the preeminent method of entry for hackers given that their targets can't protect against flaws they don't know exist, according to cybersecurity exerts.

Speaking at Georgetown University this morning, FBI Director James Comey said his agency was in the midst of determining whether it would disclose details of the third party method to Apple. 

Comey said last week in London that FBI paid a non-governmental third party over $1 million dollars for the hacking tool.


Fewer foreign fighters joining ISIS, sr. military officer says

By Lucas Tomlinson, Fox News

There are now 200 foreign fighters per month joining the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, down from 1,500-2,000 a year ago, a senior military officer from Baghdad told reporters during a press briefing at the Pentagon when asked by Fox News.

US Air Force Maj. Gen. Peter Gersten, the US-led coalition’s deputy commander for operations and intelligence said that recent airstrikes against ISIS cash storage facilities have "fractured" ISIS.   Gersten estimates strikes against ISIS cash sites have been in the "tens" and have destroyed between $300 and 800 million dollars away from ISIS. 

In the strike which killed ISIS' finance emir last month, believed to be the second in command of ISIS, MG Gersten said $150 million was destroyed at his house.  Using a tactic from the Israelis, Gersten said air bursts were deployed to scare the civilians to flee the house.  The "knock operation" as this tactic is called has been used to minimalize civilians casualties, Gersten said.

When asked how many ISIS fighters have been killed on the battlefield, Maj. Gen. Gersten replied, “not enough.”  He did not provide an estimate on the overall size of ISIS.

Following President Obama's announcement Monday that 250 more US troops would be going to Syria, 450 more troops ordered to the region over the past two weeks, MG Gersten said the US military would deploy an advanced rocket system to Turkey which uses GPS guidance to destroy targets up to 180 miles away, in another sign of incremental escalation in the war against ISIS.  

Gersten would not say where the HIMARS system, the name for the rocket system, will be deployed in Turkey citing operational security. 

Krauthammer on the Kasich-Cruz alliance: ‘A last attempt to try to stop the momentum’

Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer said Monday that while Republican presidential hopefuls John Kasich and Ted Cruz have teamed up in an attempt to deny frontrunner Donald Trump the delegates necessary to claim the party’s nomination,  the attempt comes at the eleventh hour.

“It’s extremely late…. We’re really at a point now where this is the end game,” Krauthammer said, adding, “There is no tomorrow, really. This is a last attempt to try to stop the momentum.”

Krauthammer went on to say the results of tomorrow’s primaries could determine whether the newly formed alliance has a chance at stopping Trump from securing the nomination.

“If you get the five state sweep on Tuesday, you have a candidate on a roll coming into Cleveland. If he’s on a roll… he could be 50 [delegates] away, maybe even 100 away. There will be a sense the people want him, you have to go with the people. That’s what the momentum will mean,” he said.

Yet if Cruz manages to stop Trump in Indiana, where Kasich has pledged not to spend money (to give Cruz a better chance against their shared rival), Krauthammer believes that could change the game.

“That could have a psychological effect. Everyone says it’s all about numbers, numbers, numbers,” Krauthammer said, concluding, “It’s about what the people want in a broad sense. And if you stop him in one place… I think you could have a fight on the floor that looks like it’s a legitimate fight.” 

Delegate Math

Russia ignores Obama plea to maintain Syria ceasefire, shifts forces north for Aleppo offensive, officials

By Lucas Tomlinson, Fox News

Despite a call from President Obama to Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday urging him to maintain a fragile cease-fire in Syria, Russia has shown no signs of complying.  Russia continues to ignore repeated requests from the administration to stop backing the Syrian regime after five-years of civil war that have killed a quarter of a million people.

A U.S. defense official tells Fox News Russian-backed Syrian forces have shifted the bulk of their fire power, including rocket propelled artillery north to areas outside Aleppo, where a new offensive to recapture Syria’s largest city is poised to take place in the near future.

“They have shifted everything from Palmyra up north,” the official told Fox News.

Russian-backed Syrian forces recently recaptured the historic city of Palmyra from ISIS in central Syria.  Russian and Syrian jets have also been striking rebel held towns around Damascus and Homs, despite a cease-fire agreement agreed to in late November.   The cease-fire does not apply to ISIS and an al-Qaeda affiliated group in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra.

Earlier this week, the main Syrian opposition group walked out of peace talks held in Geneva, brokered by the United States and Russia.  UN envoy Staffan de Mistura told reporters Monday that the humanitarian situation around Aleppo had deteriorated, where fighting has resumed in the past few days.

The State Department said Monday the cease-fire in Syria had been largely successful, despite reports of resumed Russian and Syrian bombing of rebel held areas.

“More Syrian people are living better lives as a result of the cessation than they were before,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said Monday

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that President Obama did not raise the issue of Russia’s provocative dangerous close range ‘flybys’ of a US Navy destroyer in the Baltic Sea and later conduced an “unsafe” barrel roll over a US Air Force spy plane also in the Baltic. 

The incidents “while provocative and concerning, are not particularly unusual,” said Earnest

Wall Street Journal first to report movement of artillery to northern Syria. 

The Politics of Big Data

Joe Fiocco-College Associate: Special Report

It’s conventional wisdom now for businesses and political campaigns to have a social media presence. And, pressure is mounting for projects to be “data-driven”. This election cycle will witness some of the most highly targeted advertising campaigns in American politics. Candidates are investing vast resources in collecting voter data to accomplish this, and the implications are startling.

Most notably, Ted Cruz exploited his grassroots network to target voters door-to-door in the Iowa caucus. The Cruz campaign’s mobile app learned the political beliefs of its subscribers through Facebook content. With access to subscribers’ political beliefs as well as their demographic data, Cruz staffers pinpointed the Iowans most receptive to the campaign’s messaging. From there, volunteers started knocking on doors. The app added competition to getting out the vote, rewarding staffers with points for sharing content, recruiting volunteers, or soliciting donations. With this enthusiastic ground game, Ted Cruz defied political logic and carried Iowa. This is especially striking, since Cruz opposed ethanol subsidies, Iowa’s golden calf.

The precision of campaign ad targeting is growing sharper.  Academic studies from the University of Toronto and the University of Minnesota found correlations between personality traits and political beliefs. Voters who valued “openness” leaned liberal, while “conscientious” voters leaned conservative. Analytics firms such as Cambridge Analytica claim to predict how voters will swing based on personality traits.

 In 2014, Cambridge Analytica devised five criteria for assessing voter personality, known as OCEAN: Open, Conscientious, Extrovert, Agreeable, and Neurotic. Over a million participants filled out questionnaires to see where they fell. The firm looked for matches in public commercial data between participants and the general population. Matches provided the basis to predict the personality types of potential voters. Cambridge Analytica found they could tailor emotional messages to individual voters. For example, a neurotic voter will likely engage with an ad highlighting a candidate’s strong stance on national security. Or, a conscientious voter might relate to an ad calling for cutting the national debt. Companies like Cambridge Analytica seem poised to overhaul traditional campaigning, for they served 44 different federal and state GOP campaigns in 2014. The firm is one of 13 such companies designing ads for the RNC and individual GOP candidates this year.

The 2016 election so far has surprised pundits and wonks at every turn. The ability to gain insights from Big Data has made an upset possible in Iowa. Concerns abound as to how politicians will use their newfound knowledge. In the future, political campaigns may be more attentive to specific issues voters care about. Yet, it may be unsettling for candidates to know your fears and desires before you do. And, as always, there will be worries about privacy. Either way, the idea that politicians are out of touch is straying further from the truth. 

North Korea readying new intermediate-range missile launch, defense officials

By Lucas Tomlinson, Fox News

For the first time, North Korea is prepared to launch a new intermediate-range ballistic missile capable of hitting Guam and the Philippines as soon as tonight to celebrate the 104th birthday of the late North Korean founder and leader Kim Il-sun, two US defense officials tell Fox News.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is currently visiting the Philippines to finalize plans to station U.S. troops there for the first time since 1992, when the Subic Bay naval base closed down.  The U.S. military has moved thousands of troops in Guam recently.

North Korea is 12 and half hours ahead of eastern time in the United States.  April 15 is a national holiday in North Korea, known as “Day of Sun."  A morning launch is expected locally.

The Musudan has a range of nearly 2,500 miles, but it has never been tested by North Korea.  Officials say this particular Musudan ballistic missile has been seen on a road launcher, which is a concern to the Pentagon because of its mobility and potential concealment in the future.

For the past few years, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has paid respects to his father and grandfather, founder of the communist country at Kumsusan Place of the Sun on April 15.

Last month, despite claims by North Korea that it fired two ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, two US officials tell Fox News that one blew up shortly after lift-off in an embarrassing new development for the North Korean military.

Both missiles were Nodong medium-range ballistic missiles, based on the Soviet-era Scud-C missile.  North Korea has also launched a series of short range rockets recently that landed in the Sea of Japan.

In February, North Korea launched a satellite into space on Super Bowl Sunday in the United States. The concern among Pentagon officials is that the same components used to launch the long-range rocket into space are the same components used for an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The US Air Force’s top officer, Gen. Mark Welsh told reporters in March that North Korea did not possess the capability to put a nuclear warhead atop one of its long-range ballistic missiles. North Korean leaders a day later said they did.

The recent launches of North Korean missiles coincide with annual military exercises between the United States and South Korea involving more than 10,000 troops.

Three nuclear-capable B-2 bombers were sent to the region as part of the exercise in a show of force to the North Koreans.

Carlson on Trump Argument about Delegates:“It's the rationale for the campaign itself.”

FOX & Friends Weekend co-host and Fox News Contributor Tucker Carlson told viewers Thursday on “Special Report with Bret Baier” that Donald Trump’s argument that the delegate system is “rigged” and takes power away from voters - particularly after his rival Ted Cruz took all of Colorado’s 34 delegates – “It's the rationale for the campaign itself. The idea that it's not really a democracy, it's an oligarchy, and this seems to prove that point to a lot of Trump supporters.”

On Wednesday Donald Trump argued that the system in Colorado was unfair, during a town hall with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, saying:  “What I’m saying is, give it to the voters...The republican folks have -- they've taken their vote away. They didn't even have the right to vote. I think it's a very sad situation.”

New Fox News polls out Thursday showed Trump widening his lead over the GOP field. Trump now beats Ted Cruz by an 18-point margin, 45 percent to 27 percent. Ohio Governor John Kasich comes in third at 25 percent.

But Carlson argued that these numbers prove that Trumps argument about the system is working in his favor and his widening poll numbers “are remarkable given just how bad Trump's last month was, I mean it almost defies description how bad it was, all self-inflicted. You'd think the numbers would go down, and they've gone up and I think it's exactly because of this.

“Look those are the rules, but the expectations people have of democracy are very different now,  in the age of the internet which is a kind of very flat structure. Everyone's a precious snowflake, you know. The idea that your vote doesn't matter, I think that's a much more painful and hard to reconcile idea than it would have been even thirty years ago.”

2016: Trump campaign hires political strategist Rick Wiley

Today, Donald J. Trump announced that he has hired veteran political strategist Rick Wiley as National Political Director to head the campaign’s statewide field operations.

Mr. Trump stated, “Rick is a seasoned political expert with a very successful career in winning elections. He brings decades of experience, and his deep ties to political leaders and activists across the country will be a tremendous asset as we enter the final phase of securing the nomination.”

Mr. Wiley said, “Voters are frustrated with the political status quo in our country and are hungry for an outsider to shake up Washington. Donald Trump has energized millions of hard working people across the country with his no-nonsense straight talk and will bring his record of success to tackle the real problems that face our nation.”

Previously, Mr. Wiley has held several roles with the RNC including National Political Director, and has managed multiple election campaigns. 

Krauthammer on Paul Ryan’s vision for Republicans: Rebuilding the party ‘after the rubble of this election cycle’

Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer said Tuesday on “Special Report with Bret Baier” that while House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) garnered attention for his forceful announcement he will not be a contender for president this election cycle, the Speaker had a lesser publicized message for the American people that was nonetheless significant.

“The part of the speech I found the most interesting was when he talked about what he’s going to be doing in Congress. And that was kind of ignored,” Krauthammer said. “I think what he was doing, in addition to pulling out of the race, was to announce the  first step in the rebuilding of the party after the rubble of this election cycle.”

Krauthammer said that Ryan was offering a path forward -- one that he believes can unite Republicans after a contentious presidential contest

“The party will be irredeemably split, and what he was saying is… I will lead with a policy agenda to reconstruct the Reaganite ideas that have been utterly level in this cycle,” he said, adding, “I don’t think it’s with an eye to the presidency. He’s young, he can run anytime in the next 20 years. It’s an eye to holding the party together.”



Coming Up

Indiana Governor Mike Pence endorses Senator Cruz ahead of Tuesday's primary--more tonight on Special Report.

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