GOP senator unloads: 'Apple chose to protect a dead ISIS terrorist's privacy over the security of the American people'

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Judge to Apple: Unlock San Bernardino Shooter's iPhone

A prominent US senator released a scathing statement Wednesday blasting Apple for pushing back on a court order to help law-enforcement officials hack into a terrorist's phone.

In the statement, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) accused Apple of protecting "a dead ISIS terrorist's privacy over the security of the American people."

SEE ALSO: Twitter users back Apple in fight with US over iPhone access

"The executive and legislative branches have been working with the private sector with the hope of resolving the 'going dark' problem," the statement said.

"Regrettably, the position Tim Cook and Apple have taken shows that they are unwilling to compromise and that legislation is likely the only way to resolve this issue," he continued, referring to Apple's CEO.

Law-enforcement officials have been trying to get into the iPhone of one of the shooters who carried out the December terror attack at a community center in San Bernardino, California. The phone is equipped with a security feature that erases the phone's data after too many unsuccessful passcode attempts. A US magistrate judge has ordered Apple to provide software that could break through that feature.

Read reactions to Apple's decisions

9 PHOTOS
Twitter backs up Apple's decision about encryption
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GOP senator unloads: 'Apple chose to protect a dead ISIS terrorist's privacy over the security of the American people'
Thank you @tim_cook for continuing to put the security of Apple customers first. #Apple #iPhone #standwithapple
The @FBI is creating a world where citizens rely on #Apple to defend their rights, rather than the other way around. https://t.co/vdjB6CuB7k
Give ‘em hell, @tim_cook. <3
I’ve said it before, and I say it again: @tim_cook is amazing and I stand behind every bit of this. Thank you, Tim. https://t.co/yZvBvLYT24
Didn't realize you can just oppose a judge's order as if it was a request. #Apple #ThinkDifferent
The company does a lot wrong but this one they've nailed with clear communication to users about the stakes involved.
Very good technical analysis of the Apple case. This order doesn't require a generic backdoor, but is bad precedent. https://t.co/ZXqkcRdjXu
Only thing Apple (understandably) omitted was the historical pattern of government repeatedly misusing similar backdoors in the past.
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Cook posted an open letter on Apple's website calling the demand "chilling" and arguing that it "would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect."

Cotton seemed to disagree.

"The problem of end-to-end encryption isn't just a terrorism issue," Cotton said in the statement. "It is also a drug-trafficking, kidnapping, and child-pornography issue that impacts every state of the union. It's unfortunate that the great company Apple is becoming the company of choice for terrorists, drug dealers, and sexual predators of all sorts."

FBI Director James Comey aired similar concerns in front of a Senate committee earlier this month.

"The growing use of encryption both to lock devices when they sit there and to cover communications ... is actually overwhelmingly affecting law enforcement," Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee. "... It has an impact on national security work, but overwhelmingly this is a problem local law enforcement sees."

Phones that default-lock can "hold the evidence of child pornography, communications that somebody made before they were killed, before they went missing, the evidence necessary to solve a crime," Comey said. He added that "it's a big problem for law enforcement, armed with a search warrant, when you find a device that can't be opened even though the judge said there is probable cause."

Police found two crushed cellphones in a trash can near the site of the San Bernardino attack. The iPhone that law-enforcement officials are now trying to access is a county-owned work phone that was used by Syed Rizwan Farook.

RELATED GALLERY: Go inside the San Bernardino shooters' homes

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Inside San Bernardino shooting suspects home
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GOP senator unloads: 'Apple chose to protect a dead ISIS terrorist's privacy over the security of the American people'
REDLANDS, CA - DECEMBER 4: Inside the house where Syed Rizwan Farook and Tafsheen Malik, suspects of the deadly the recent mass shootings, lived on December 4, 2015 in Redlands, California. (Photo by Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
REDLANDS, CA - DECEMBER 4: A Quran sits in the living room inside the house where Syed Rizwan Farook and Tafsheen Malik, suspects of the deadly recent mass shootings lived on December 4, 2015 in Redlands, California. (Photo by Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
REDLANDS, CA - DECEMBER 4: An identification card for Syed Farook inside the house where Syed Rizwan Farook and Tafsheen Malik, suspects of the deadly recent mass shootings lived on December 4, 2015 in Redlands, California. (Photo by Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
REDLANDS, CA - DECEMBER 4: A hole in the ceiling could be seen inside the closet area of the rear bedroom inside the house where Syed Rizwan Farook and Tafsheen Malik, suspects of the deadly recent mass shootings lived on December 4, 2015 in Redlands, California. (Photo by Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
REDLANDS, CA - DECEMBER 4: A baby crib is seen inside the baby room of the house where Syed Rizwan Farook and Tafsheen Malik, suspects of the deadly recent mass shootings, lived, on December 4, 2015 in Redlands, California. (Photo by Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
REDLANDS, CA - DECEMBER 4: A firearm lubricant could be seen in the closet of the front bedroom inside the house where Syed Rizwan Farook and Tafsheen Malik, suspects of the deadly recent mass shootings lived on December 4, 2015 in Redlands, California. (Photo by Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
REDLANDS, CA - DECEMBER 4: Media reporters go in and out of the townhouse where Syed Rizwan Farook and Tafsheen Malik, suspects of the deadly recent mass shootings lived on December 4, 2015 in Redlands, California. (Photo by Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
REDLANDS, CA - DECEMBER 4: A praying mat and a cleared out closet in the baby room in the front of the apartment. A rare first glimpse inside the house where Syed Rizwan Farook and Tafsheen Malik, suspects of the deadly the recent mass shootings, lived, on December 4, 2015 in Redlands, California. (Photo by Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
REDLANDS, CA - DECEMBER 4: Prayer beads are seen laying on the bed alongside personal documents in the rear bedroom inside the house where Syed Rizwan Farook and Tafsheen Malik, suspects of the deadly recent mass shootings lived on December 4, 2015 in Redlands, California. (Photo by Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
REDLANDS, CA - DECEMBER 4: A closet inside the baby room. A rare first glimpse inside the house where Syed Rizwan Farook and Tafsheen Malik, suspects of the deadly recent mass shootings, lived, on December 4, 2015 in Redlands, California. (Photo by Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
REDLANDS, CA - DECEMBER 4: A rare first glimpse inside the house where Syed Rizwan Farook and Tafsheen Malik, suspects of the deadly recent mass shootings, lived on December 4, 2015 in Redlands, California. (Photo by Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
A book sits on a table inside the home of San Bernardino mass murder suspect Syed Farook, December 4, 2015 in Redlands, California. The community is mourning as police continue to investigate a mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino that left at least 14 people dead and another 21 injured. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK / AFP / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Journalists squeeze into a child's bedroom in the home of shooting suspect Syed Farook on December 4, 2015 in Redlands, California. The community is mourning as police continue to investigate a mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino that left at least 14 people dead and another 21 injured. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK / AFP / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
A view of the kitchen inside the home of shooting suspect Syed Farook on December 4, 2015 in Redlands, California. The community is mourning as police continue to investigate a mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino that left at least 14 people dead and another 21 injured. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK / AFP / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
A television crew prepares to do a live report inside a child's bedroom in the home of shooting suspect Syed Farook on December 4, 2015 in Redlands, California. The community is mourning as police continue to investigate a mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino that left at least 14 people dead and another 21 injured. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK / AFP / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
SAN BERNARDINO, CA - DECEMBER 04: Reporters take pictures of photographs found inside the home of shooting suspect Syed Farook on December 4, 2015 in San Bernardino, California. The San Bernardino community is mourning as police continue to investigate a mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino that left at least 14 people dead and another 21 injured. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
REDLANDS, CA - DECEMBER 04: Baby food sits on a kitchen counter inside the home of shooting suspect Syed Farook on December 4, 2015 in Redlands, California. The San Bernardino community is mourning as police continue to investigate a mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino that left at least 14 people dead and another 21 injured. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
REDLANDS, CA - DECEMBER 04: A hatchet sits in a kitchen drawer inside the home of shooting suspect Syed Farook on December 4, 2015 in Redlands, California. The San Bernardino community is mourning as police continue to investigate a mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino that left at least 14 people dead and another 21 injured. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
REDLANDS, CA - DECEMBER 04: Reporters inspect the home of shooting suspect Syed Farook on December 4, 2015 in Redlands, California. The San Bernardino community is mourning as police continue to investigate a mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino that left at least 14 people dead and another 21 injured. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
REDLANDS, CA - DECEMBER 04: Arabic books sit in a closet inside the home of shooting suspect Syed Farook on December 4, 2015 in Redlands, California. The San Bernardino community is mourning as police continue to investigate a mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino that left at least 14 people dead and another 21 injured. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
REDLANDS, CA - DECEMBER 04: An Islamic Manners book sits in a bedroom inside the home of shooting suspect Syed Farook on December 4, 2015 in Redlands, California. The San Bernardino community is mourning as police continue to investigate a mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino that left at least 14 people dead and another 21 injured. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
REDLANDS, CA - DECEMBER 04: A book about prayer sits on a bedside table inside the home of shooting suspect Syed Farook on December 4, 2015 in Redlands, California. The San Bernardino community is mourning as police continue to investigate a mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino that left at least 14 people dead and another 21 injured. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN BERNARDINO, CA - DECEMBER 04: Reporters inspect the home of shooting suspect Syed Farook on December 4, 2015 in San Bernardino, California. The San Bernardino community is mourning as police continue to investigate a mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino that left at least 14 people dead and another 21 injured. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
REDLANDS, CA - DECEMBER 04: Reporters inspect the home of shooting suspect Syed Farook on December 4, 2015 in Redlands, California. The San Bernardino community is mourning as police continue to investigate a mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino that left at least 14 people dead and another 21 injured. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
REDLANDS, CA - DECEMBER 04: Reporters inspect the home of Syed Farook on December 4, 2015 in Redlands, California. The San Bernardino community is mourning as police continue to investigate a mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino that left at least 14 people dead and another 21 injured. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Members of the media crowd into the apartment bedroom of San Bernardino shooting suspects Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, in Redlands, Calif., Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, after the building landlord invited journalists into the townhouse. A book containing passages from the Quran is seen at right. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Members of the media crowd into a child's room in an apartment in Redlands, Calif., shared by San Bernardino shooting rampage suspects Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, after the building landlord invited media into the townhouse rented by the California attackers. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Members of the media crowd into the living room of an apartment in Redlands, Calif., shared by San Bernardino shooting rampage suspects Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, after the building landlord invited media into the townhouse rented by the California attackers. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Members of the media crowd into the living room of an apartment in Redlands, Calif., shared by San Bernardino shooting rampage suspects Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, after the building landlord invited media into the townhouse rented by the California attackers. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Members of the media crowd into a child's room in an apartment in Redlands, Calif., shared by San Bernardino shooting rampage suspects Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, after the building landlord invited media into the townhouse rented by the California attackers. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
A member of the media films a wall tapestry displaying religous writing in the living room of an apartment in Redlands, Calif., shared by San Bernardino shooting rampage suspects Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, after the building landlord invited media into the townhouse rented by the California attackers. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
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He and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, died in a shootout with the police after they carried out the attack at the Inland Regional Center. The attack killed 14 people and left at least 21 others injured.

The shooters pledged allegiance to the terrorist group ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, ISIL, or Daesh, right before the attacks, officials have said.

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