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. Edwin

    While I would also want to keep my BlackBerry to communicate, he also needs to realize that hackers are very savvy people, no matter how secure that data is there will always be a way to steal it.

    Giving up e-mail just comes with the job.

    January 8, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  2. Objective thinking

    Thanks for your insight, js. But I don't see why you think it's okay to just brush aside security matters like they don't matter, after you laid out good reasons why they do matter. Of course it's possible that legal factors are involved, but that doesn't mean the security matters don't exist.

    And your argument about other people with 200+ or 2000+ people working under them all having email isn't convincing. Executives have email because it's convenient, fast, and because they have gotten used to it. Not because it is necessary. Phones still work. Obama can use that.

    The POTUS is not like other executives working in the private sector. He has special security protocols to follow, and comparing the POTUS to private execs is faulty.

    January 8, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  3. Todd

    Note to Obama – People aren't standing up when you enter a room for you – it's your office. Remember that and maybe you can have an easier time stayijng grounded.

    Also – you begged and pleaded for this job – quit complaining and get to work – we don't pay you to sit around playing with your Blackberry. – Maybe that too will help you stay grounded.

    January 8, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  4. Carlo

    Wow–The anti-Obama crowd really went nuts on the comments here. Possibly, they do not know what a Blackberry is?

    He's running the country like a Fortune 500 CEO and doesn't want to 'downgrade' his communication. How blastphemous!!!

    January 8, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  5. Objective thinking

    MikeH thinkd anyone who doesn't agree with Obama about his Blackberry must be anti-Obama. That's pure ignorance.

    January 8, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  6. DX in TX

    I have an idea, why not give Blackberry devices to everyone with a staff over 10-20 people. This way, PE Obama could borrow their phones whenever he wanted..ok...that's lame!

    How about this, why not purchase 5000 disposable phones that are hard to track...OK that's lame too

    The white is set up to keep the president safe, but in the process it keeps him out of touch with the real world. Barack Obama is not the type to be controlled!

    Good Luck Secret Service dude!

    January 8, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  7. Christian

    I like how everyone thinks hes a great president and nobody knows a thing about him. I agree Bush was terrible but dont put all your eggs in one basket for Obama yet.

    January 8, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  8. Matt

    better this than do like the GOP and act like a dingleberry

    January 8, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  9. President Barack Obama

    Shut Up Haters!!!! Get Off This Site With Your Negative Views About The PE and Get Back To Work!!

    January 8, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  10. Paul

    danbie, a sore loser? 🙂

    January 8, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  11. adam

    Give up his BlackBerry? How will he ever make a decision? He won't be able to check what the media or polls say!!!!! He will have to actually have to make a decision himself!!!!!! We are doomed!!

    January 8, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  12. Sweetie

    This makes me really sick......

    If our new PE is such a stupid cry baby so unaware of how Technology and National Security work…..

    we are in bigger trouble then I feared for other reasons!

    Or maybe he needs his blackberry to stay grounded because it is the only way Humas and other underworld leaders can get a hold of him!


    January 8, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  13. apickel

    As long as there is no security info what does it matter. Most people know where the president is most of the time anyway so the gps doesn't matter. When they don't, even if they discover it, if they wanted to do damage he would be somewhere else by the time they could get to him. I like the man and don't want him to become isolated. Let him be real.

    January 8, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  14. pete

    let's get the truth out!!!
    MISSION ACCOMPLISHED !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 8, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  15. carolflowery

    he cant keep up with his terrorist friends if the take it away, what a whiny baby, didnt he want this job or not, idiot

    January 8, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  16. Sara

    I think that Michelle Obama will keep Barack grounded trust me!

    January 8, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  17. Crazy Cat Lady

    If the worry is the GPS capability making it possible to pinpoint Obama's location, I'm sure there must be a way to disable that particular feature. I'm also sure the man isn't stupid enough to email anything he wouldn't be comfortable seeing on the front page of the New York Times.

    January 8, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  18. Lilly

    Everything from the brain goes to the blackberry. Without it, his brain is going to be dormant.

    January 8, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  19. Sean

    @Don, NY,

    If he's the president of the United States, he deserves the respect that one would expect to be give to the leader of a country. I realize that people dislike Bush, (I do myself), but I would never insult him to his face.

    January 8, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  20. cbenji

    he's probably just using it to stay in contact with his wife and kids. disable the gps if that's an issue. why is this such a big deal? fix the economy. who cares about a blackberry?

    January 8, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |

    thats funny i would not do that if i were him not very secure....

    January 8, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  22. Ron

    One problem is that most cell phones/blackberries have GPS and can be easily tracked. I'm sure this is what the Secret Service is concerned about, not his calling Sasha and Malia.

    January 8, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  23. Dave, Central Illinois

    Cell phones communicate by a process called "triangulation" in which several towers that detect the users signal determine which geographical "cell" the user is in and then the communications server uses that info to choose the best tower(s) for that user's access. So, the physical location of that user is know at all times. This is not a political, criminal, or personal issue at all. Its purely a security measure to keep Obama safe. Jeepers, calm down people!

    January 8, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  24. Objective thinking

    Carlo thinks that people have to agree with Obama on every single little issue including use of his blackberry or else they are anti-Obama. Gee, so you think not a single one of the 66 million people who voted him could hold the opinion that Obama should just listen to the Secret Service? Wow. Ignorance knows no bounds.

    January 8, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  25. JO

    How else is he, uh, to know what to say, uh, and do, uh, if he doesn't get , uh, instructions via his, uh, blackberry ??

    January 8, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
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