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. Thomas

    As POTUS there will be many "freedoms" that regular citizens enjoy that he won't be able to enjoy. That is just part of the job.

    Besides who exactly will he be chatting with on his BlackBerry? Maybe a 100 people? Let's say 1,000 people to be on the safe side. This is not exactly keeping in touch with the people of the United States.

    Why exactly would the President need a BlackBerry? Look behind the POTUS. See all those vans/suvs? all filled with comm equipment that is secure. It is not like he is isolated comm wise.

    It it important for the POTUS to trust his security people. They are professionals in their field. If they advise no BlackBerries, I think Obama should take their advice.

    January 8, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  2. Gentle Rampage

    I've not heard anything approaching a good reason for why giving up the Blackberry would be advisable. He would use it with full knowledge that his communications would be released one day. The Secret Service has managed to keep him safe to this point while he has been using it–in settings that make him much more vulnerable than most places he will go as president. I think the best thing is that the thing be as secure as it can be made–perhaps have two that he interchanges. If his usage of it were somewhat unpredictable perhaps that would make it safer. If he wasn't seen with it? If he uses it primarily to receive rather than to send? I don't know what all the concerns are, but I suspect for each one there are solutions that do not involve taking the Blackberry away altogether.

    Obama is not a stupid man. If someone can articulate a persuasive reason for him to give the thing up entirely, I suspect he will. The problem is when the reasons for giving it up are outweighed in his mind by the reasons for keeping it. He'll do the right thing.

    January 8, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  3. Harry

    This story is a testament to the fact that this guy was in fact the best person to lead this country.....i've never heard of any other past president who felt a need to stay 'grounded'....I love this guy and frankly can't wait until he takes office.

    January 8, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  4. JoJo

    Sounds like someone is affraid of CHANGE! Get over yourself Obama.

    January 8, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  5. Ryan

    I find all this outrage a little interesting considering how many other individuals out there receive highly confidential information on their blackberries and laptops. Lawyers, finance people, other government officials (like all of the WH staff), they all have blackberries that contain information that could be damaging.

    January 8, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  6. bluebonnett_gal

    Even though I did NOT vote for Obama, I do feel that this Country of ours should COME TOGETHER and support our New Chief-in-Command!! American's, we need to wake up and get REAL leaders in office, help turn this country around and get America back on track.
    BTW, let him have his Blackberry, I am sure, as others have stated, he won't be sending out Top "Secret" info..... Give him a CHANCE!

    January 8, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  7. dr.mimi de la cruz






    January 8, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  8. :e

    I'm with the new president elect. He needs to stay in touch. We're Americans, we can figure out a titanium fire wall to protect him. His blackberry list should be pre-approved, where only certain numbers can get through.

    January 8, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  9. eb

    All good points js – especially the one about the Blackberry becoming a continuous president locator. Security of the president is a big issue.

    January 8, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  10. Brooklyn


    This is important because?

    Is there NOT enough stuff going on in the world that we need to read about a mans cell phone or his daughters outfit for school...

    This is no better than Perez Hilton CNN, NO BETTER at all.

    January 8, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  11. simplyred

    Love or hate.....What is wrong with some of you people. Get a life and stop using this median as a tool for your prejudice. You can't even express an opinion on something as simple as a blackberry without the stupid Hamas junk injected in it Toorey, what planet are you from anyway?

    I can not believe we are in the 21st century and some of you are still in the pre slavery era. Hating something you know nothing about and had no part in it. Ger Real! we are in a RECESSION! People are losing their businesses, their homes, their jobs. Recession is not a color, it's a tragedy for many, instead some are focusing on something as trivial as what color the President is. Get a Grip, who cares?

    January 8, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  12. The Patriot

    I don't see why he can't keep it. The NSA with all the Wizz they've got can't tell me they can't come up with a Black Berry ONE for a Modern president of the USA. We are Americans, we are innovators, this is the time we step up the game and take this technology thing serious or else the rest of the world is gonna past zoom past us. If we can make an Airforce One, A presidential Limo and the list of them, why not a Black Berry one? Why the Fear, our boys can haddle it and Obama can lead this nation to a greater hieght. Come on Boys, The CIA, NSA and Computer Nerds this is the time to show your juice. I am Proud to be in the USA , the greatest Nation on the planet Earth!!

    January 8, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  13. Joan

    I completely understand why he wants it. I am connected with my Blackberry also. However...I am afraid for him to have it unless there is someone who can arrange his differently in order to be secure. Can Linux be used on a Blackberry? There might be a hacker out there that could remedy this problem for him.

    January 8, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  14. danbie

    "look, it's the hardest thing about being president. How do you stay in touch with the flow of everyday life."

    How does he know? He's not the president yet. I would think the hardest thing about being president for him is going to be to live up to all those empty promises he made to the American public.

    January 8, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  15. :)

    He loves it, don't take his toy away.

    And we love him–we're rooting for you Barack.

    January 8, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  16. PaulMoATX

    Sam"thats the problem with technology, people get too addicited and its rediculous"

    What's ridiculous is you and 60% of the posters that don't know how to spell, use proper grammar, or proper sentence structure. And when you tend to read and write at a 10th grade reading level, you tend to think and write at a 10th grade reading level. Hence, your dumb comment.

    Have a nice day. Knowledge is Power.

    January 8, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  17. Brunel

    Let him have it just for receiving email.
    He should not reply to any email.

    January 8, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  18. john

    I enjoy video poker as much as the next guy.

    why not let him play?

    January 8, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  19. Liz

    Allowing President-elect Obama the right to keep his Blackberry is another change that has been long in coming. If the Secret Service can't protect that from hackers, what else are they unable to secure? If our current President had stayed more in touch with the real world we may not be in the mess we're in now.

    January 8, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  20. W Spivey, Merritt Island, FL

    Just don't contact Monica Dude.

    January 8, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  21. lala

    Let The Man Keep It!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 8, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  22. Charlton Heston

    They're going to have it pry it out of his cold dead hand.

    January 8, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  23. Shane

    I think that it says a lot about Obama when you see all to other political people around him not willing to put their communications up for eternal documentation and accountability. It tells me that he doesn't have anything to hide and what a concept with the record of all recent POTUS.

    January 8, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  24. Fredi

    can anyone imagine a discussion about "can the president use a telephone" ... how was that handled in times past when the telephone first came out?

    January 8, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  25. jbn

    The way to stay in touch with the "people", and the flow of everyday life, is to talk to"people" Technoogy is great, but has made us an isolated society.

    BTW, so what if he has his Blackberry. I am sure he is not going to type out secret war plans on it.

    Another way to stay in touch with the flow of life is through his family and friends.
    Or he could just watch Oprah.

    January 8, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
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