Ray, you’re missing two major points.
- The nature of the FBI’s request to Apple requires they be able to hack the phone. What they are asking for is custom Operating System software to use known attack vectors. Your claim that they are technologically inept simply doesn’t fly in the face of the actual request. A real world metaphor: A locked door wired to a bomb. They aren’t asking for the key to the lock, they are asking that the bomb that goes off when someone tries 10 wrong keys be disabled (along with the ability to try different keys extremely quickly). This implies the FBI can hack the phone themselves.
- Right now there is no law to compel Apple to build special bomb-diffusing software. Apple is taking a stand because if they are required to bypass major components of their security model by building new custom software then anyone can use that precedent to demand the same thing.
Not just other government agencies within the USA but in the world.