January 8th, 2009
11:54 AM ET
10 years ago

Obama not giving up BlackBerry without a fight

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/08/art.obamabb.gi.jpg caption="Obama is finding it difficult to give up his BlackBerry."](CNN) - Barack Obama faces a host of challenges when he assumes the Oval Office later this month, but the hardest personally for the president-elect might just be relinquishing his cherished BlackBerry.

Those who follow Obama on a regular basis know the president-elect is constantly on the addictive e-mail device. But the Secret Service, as well as Obama lawyers, are concerned it could easily be hacked and are demanding the new president hand over the BlackBerry before he moves into the White House.

But in an interview with CNBC Wednesday, Obama made clear he's not giving it up without a fight.

"They're going to pry it out of my hands," the president-elect said.

"You know, this town's full of lawyers. I don't know if you've noticed...and they have a lot opinions. And so I'm still in a scuffle around that, but it–look, it's the hardest thing about being president. How do you stay in touch with the flow of everyday life," he added.

The Secret Service also made President Bush give up e-mail when he assumed the presidency, and former President Clinton, during whose term e-mail became widely-used, sent a grand total of two e-mails while president - one as a test to see if it worked and the second to former Sen. and astronaut John Glenn before he went back into space in 1998.

But in the interview Wednesday, Obama suggested keeping his BlackBerry is one way he could stay connected to the real world.

"I've got to look for every opportunity to do that – ways that aren't scripted, ways that aren't controlled, ways where, you know, people aren't just complimenting you or standing up when you enter into a room, ways of staying grounded," he said.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (502 Responses)
  1. Danny G. Boca Raton, FL

    You know... with the advancement of Technology; you would think that NASA or any other agency (used to be the Navy) would have come up with a safe way to encrypt and decrypt signals to a blackberry-like device to provide the most powerful man in the world the adequate communications he requires. Perhaps the new wave of scientists coming to the white house can carve a policy to make it happen...

    January 8, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  2. Linda - WI

    Perhaps Obama's dilemma will cause Blackberry or some other telecommunication company to develop a secure device for his (and ultimately, others') use.

    And you people who suggest Obama has something to hide - why, then, would he want to keep his Blackberry, which is inherently insecure and easily hacked? Your so-called logic makes no sense whatsoever.

    January 8, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  3. Steve

    Guy's going to be working 24/7 for this country! If he wants the BlackBerry to keep in touch with friends and family, in a historically very lonely job, let him!

    January 8, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  4. Steve

    Its funny to see some of these people create personal attacks against Obama just because he wants to continue using his blackberry. Some of you are very sad people, confusing your own dislike for the man (maybe because he is black, y'know Rethuglicans are actually pretty racist, Barack the magic negro anyone?)

    I love how some of these posters are "ZOMG! He is gonna spill national secrets on his blackberry...he has no control of whats put on it...ZOMG!!"

    LOL, if you believe that then you really are pathetic and reaching for an argument...did anyone say there were going to be state secrets on his blackberry...do you carry corporate secrets on YOUR personal cell phone?

    What a bunch of absolute morons....please try to find another argument, at least one that may hold some water.

    P.S.- Maybe he has something to hide!!! LOL< absolutely priceless and shows the lengths some people will go to (ie. an absolutely baseless and just downright stupid accusations/arguments)

    January 8, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  5. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    Toorey, Obama Show, Atlas, Sara for America et al, you are a complete bunch of tools. Seriously, get bent, you have nothing to offer. The idea that a President would actually use 21st century technology during the 21st century is something we should applaud. I understand the security risk (the GPS signal from Obama's Blackberry means he can be 'found' anywhere on earth) but there has to be some way to mask the signal or provide adequate security to prevent hacking, etc. There are obviously secure government satellites. Can't they link his signal through those?

    January 8, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  6. sian

    I would expect that someone wo managed to be elected President would be prudent enought to limit his communications in a way that would not jepoardize his reputation or the safety of those who depend on his good judgement. That said, I fail to see where the dilemma lies if he pays for the service himself. I can only imagine how difficult if would be to cut oneself off from any unfiltered communication with the entire world. On a personal note I enjoy being able to communicate with my husband when we are in a crowded room without exchanging a word.

    January 8, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  7. ME!

    Let the man keep his Blackberry....if this is going to help him stay in touch with the real world...what is the harm?
    Its time we have a president that is a little more down to earth and not just sitting in his Oval office waiting for things to fall out of the sky...

    I am sure the secret service can find pretty good hackers to encrypt his phone enough that no one could acess any of the data....

    With all this economy crisis, this is what people are worried about...someone blackberry usage...TO READ THE NEWS!!!

    Go figures

    January 8, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  8. Vida

    Lame and cheap shot Toorey.

    January 8, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  9. s

    As the president shouldn't they be able to get a super-duper-secured -one line service-CIA- FBI- NSA- NASA- satellite line that can't be hacked?!?

    I mean he is going to be the most powerful man on the planet. Come on! 🙂

    January 8, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  10. Eman

    Here is the problem. Who is going to have his phone number? Even if only his closest friends have it, the number can still be aquired by others. Do we really want random people calling or texting the president directly?

    January 8, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  11. ANGEL

    dang, he is speaking the truth and ya'll want him to be phony like the rest of them. yea for usa!!

    January 8, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  12. David R

    There are secured, encrypted versions of PDA's available. He won't be missing anything.

    January 8, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  13. magella

    from "A Real American":

    "Funny how most of the tech junkies turn out to be liberals…. while most conservatives are too busy trying to actually make a living for themselves, and not on the government's dime!"

    So by your logic, people using technology are also receiving welfare or otherwise depending on government services?

    Maybe if "Real Americans" like you WERE wired into the outside world you would realize how ignorant some of your preconceptions are.

    January 8, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  14. Jeremy

    keeping his blackberry doesn't have anything to do with hiding/not hiding anything obamashow... if you knew anything about technology you would know that networks can be easily hacked, blackberries can be easily hacked and emails and sensitive documents could become public if he used his blackberry for anything confidential.

    Why don't you learn a thing or 2 about technology before posting your moronic posts?

    January 8, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  15. Jan - Or

    President elect package is positive and encouraging and congress must act without delay rather dragging their feet and no action. America’s future is on Congress hands now and I am watching each one decision.

    January 8, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  16. Gal, Ohio

    If you have a country that can not figure out a way to get their security together that they have to tell their president they cannot use technology in the 21st century then you have to wonder in what direction that country is to move forward to as well.

    January 8, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  17. Nevada Independant

    Let him keep the blackberry!

    In this modern age, should we not want a President who is kept in the loop?

    January 8, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  18. vincent

    Mr. Toorey, you are a big part of the problem with America. Paranoid, prejudiced...but most of all, very childish.

    January 8, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  19. Eric M

    So let me get this straight, Sarah Palin using a private email as Governor is bad because it can be hacked and there's no transparency. Yet PEBO using a non-secure wireless device while serving as the POTUS is no big deal?

    Double standards are fun.

    January 8, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  20. terri

    Why would the risk of hacking be greater in two weeks than it is now? Crackberries are always at risk of being hacked. If anything, all the messages up 'till now would be riskier than any current/future ones. I'm sure his current communications are far more controlled than a casual email from two years ago. Let him keep it. Besides, I like the idea of our President being like the rest of us regular folks-texting his peeps or playing BrickBreaker during boring cabinet meetings.......

    January 8, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  21. Maxine

    Every Prez has had to adapt to new tech, there are so many satilites out in space from every country, I am sure if they wanted to listen in they could. I say he has to stay in touch, when you take the Prez out of the realm he looses touch with us. I commend him for wanting to stay in touch with modern tech. Who of us doesn't use it today.

    January 8, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  22. Steve

    LOL< at "a REAL American"...you arent a real American, you are someone who doesnt like Obama and you will make a baseless and rediculous argument on here just to try to slander the man a little more.

    You arent a real american, its obvious by your dig at liberals as well as the personal attack on someone else on the board that had no relation to your post that you are nothing more than a standard issue rethuglican, in the dark and behind the times. Please, stay in the stone age and let the rest of the world go by.

    Please, just go away and put on another chorus of the new Rethuglican theme song "Barack the Magic Negro" to calm you down a little.

    January 8, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  23. sandy

    With all the technology out there, I find it hard to believe that something can't be done so this man can stay in touch with the outside world. History tells us that this is a very lonely job and to keep his sanity and his touch with everyday life is a must. I agree with him and I hope he wins. It's not like he's going to give away national security secrets on the thing. He's a lot smarter than tha. It's his way of staying in touch with friends, etc. you know, the outside world.

    January 8, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  24. Let's hope

    Let's hope he does a better job of keeping his emails than Bush did. I'd love to see what he is writing years from now

    January 8, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  25. strong

    Why is this even an issue?

    Let him keep it. He is about to become President of the USA in 12 days, he's not a teenager. Another slow newsday ....

    January 8, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
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