As the legal battle heats up between Apple (AAPL) and the FBI, Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta addressed concerns on both sides of the issue.
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“It’s dangerous to try to force a choice in this country between protecting our security and protecting our freedom, [but] I think we can do both. That’s been the history of our country, the ability to do both,” Panetta explained to the FOX Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo.
Panetta discussed the need to find compromise between Apple and the FBI “that at the same time can protect their competitive interests, their interests in the business that they are running, but at the same time provide the information necessary to law enforcement.”
The former Secretary of Defense also talked about the potential risks if Apple and the FBI are unable to work together.
“I think we all need to ask ourselves this question: if America is attacked by terrorists, and for some reason law enforcement was not able to get access to information that would have prevented that attack, the American people are going to ask the question, ‘how did we let that happen?’ and so for that reason it makes sense for both sides to sit down and work this out.”
Panetta then weighed in on the 2016 presidential race and Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in particular.
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“She [Clinton] has gained a large number of delegates, she is appealing to a large cross-section of the electorate, I think she is very much in a strong position to achieve the nomination.”
But on the potential impact of Clinton’s email scandal, Panetta said: “I think she’s admitted that it wasn’t something that she should have done, and the bottom line is that I don’t think that this email issue is going to be decisive in terms of how voters decide to vote for President of the United States.”
On the challenges a potential President Trump would have filling his Administration’s cabinet, Panetta said, “His history is not one of reaching out to people, he kind of has a tremendous amount of confidence in his own opinions and that’s been pretty clear as we’ve gone through this campaign. Whether or not he is going to be willing to reach out and do that remains to be seen.”
Panetta also talked about his broader concerns regarding a potential Trump presidency.
“My bigger concern is whether or not somebody like this who has been very divisive, has been insulting to candidates, has been attacking people on a personal basis, attacking people because of their race, whether somebody who appeals to the worst in the American people, can suddenly go to Washington as President of the United States and be able to deal with Congress, to deal with those you have to deal with in the world in order to be able to resolve issues.”
In addition, Panetta mentioned his work with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on improving the strategies used in the fight against terrorism.
“We’ve got to develop a comprehensive strategy to deal with all aspects of terrorism if we’re ever going to be able to truly defeat it.”