From the beginning, this was an FBI PR effort to cover their own asses. They know they can do nothing to protect Americans from terrorist attacks like the one in San Bernardino, their role is to investigate afterwards and figure out whodunnit, but in these sort of terrorist attacks everyone already knows whodunnit, the terrorists already destroyed evidence or changed up anything that might jeopardize other terrorist operations, and the FBI doesn't really have anything to do except issue press releases.
Since stupid Americans think it's the job of the governmentâ"and by extension the FBIâ"to protect them from every boo-boo (something that is simply impossible, but has a large impact on the FBI's yearly budget), the FBI has to go into CYA-mode. High level political appointees put pressure on the mid-level bureaucrats to deflect blame by any and all means necessary. If it wasn't encryption being scapegoated it'd be something else, but by pointing the finger elsewhere, the FBI can look like they're doing something, and continue to justify their budgetary expenses on ineffectual programs that employ a lot of FBI supervisors. I expect the low-level FBI grunts who actually have to carry out these programs and are forced by their bosses to go before judges and the media and lie know as well as we do that encryption, or Apple, or a lack of fascist law enforcement powers has no effect whatsoever on islamic terrorism. Islamic terrorism is caused by the political elites around the world that enable it through immigration policies, foreign policies, economic policies, and a culture of political correctness, as well as the well-protected-by-private-security liberals that want gun-free zones so the bullets are only flying on one direction when shit goes down.
So, pretty much politics-as-usual. Normally I wouldn't mind and just roll my eyes, but in this case and similar ones, the cost is to our basic liberties and the very soul of our nation.