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. Adam

    Bush is out but were now out of luck....Were Screwed..!

    January 8, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  2. a little sad

    @Julio Vasquez January 8th, 2009 10:50 am ET

    If it can be hacked – it can be tracked.

    It is not that he may be texting away state secrets, but that the location of POTUS is a state secret. It is not worth the risk.

    Only Cheney needed to hide in an "undisclosed location". For the most part, the president's whereabout can be and is general knowledge.

    If there is a need for him to be somewhere undisclosed, don't bring the thing with him, or turn it off, whatever.

    But if it makes the guy's day to get a text message from one of his kids, I am all for his having the same priviledge the rest of us do. Just don't use it for state secrets.

    January 8, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  3. keith A. sillsbury

    Some of you people are so retarted I can't believe we put up with you.
    The man wants a line to the real world and not just a bunch of yes men around him, and you people are making snide comments about it. get a life or better yet go join hamas getting their butt kicked for being stupid. all they have to do is have all communications on the frequency go to a communication station to change it over to a coded feq. and sent to a high level BB. The man isn't even in office yet, has been working on fixxing issues he never created that are still the problems of the current pres. and idiots want to put him down. I'll say it again... retarts.

    January 8, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  4. Adam

    Obama Is acting like a kid and needs to grow up a little.....drop the phone or drop the Job

    January 8, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  5. Valarie

    Why not let him keep his blackberry? He's an intelligent man, and won't abuse his use of it by sending messages he knows shouldn't be sent. As far as ecurity, give me a break!! It's funny to see people say "I don't understand the problem, I could give it up." Yeah right!

    January 8, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  6. JS ...... santee


    January 8, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  7. Russ

    Why not if they can keep it secure? Whats with the personal attacks and name calling from republicans? We don't have any election till 2010.

    January 8, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  8. Tracy

    Just the kind of reaction I'd expect from an egocentric, ego maniac like Obama. He puts his own concerns ahead of the security of the White House and the government. I've worked in IT for over 15 years...there is no way to secure a connection to the Internet 100%.

    January 8, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  9. The Techie

    Actually, 'The Patriot', it's not that easy. What breaks the Air Force ONE analogy, is that the traveling path of the Pres cannot be monitored safely enough. If a rogue plane or missle aims for the Pres in AF ONE, it will be tracked and intercepted. The public Internet/mobile phone networks are not so "monitorable". The Pres' calls and data transfers can be intercepted without anyone noticing. That is just the state of the digital highway as it currently stands. Yes, his phone can be enhanced... but it will still need to use the same highway that entire world has access to. And, of course, it must be stated... if someone can develop a better security technology... someone else can hack it. And, lucky for the hacker, it's physically available to them wherever they are.

    January 8, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  10. Droppedrod

    The security concerns raised by the Secret Service are more indicative of an change-adverse organization than a legitimate risk. The military uses blackberries and email on a daily basis as do the vast majority of the world's most powerful business people (who are probably using both to convey more valuable information than anything included in Obama's casual conversations).

    The fear that the handset can be used as a locator to target the president displays a complete lack of technological understanding. If that is a real fear, give the president a new device each day. It's the device's unique identifier on the network that allows tracking and not the email address that is being fowarded to it, particularly if you are forwarding through a secure email system.

    Moreover, we are talking about the head of one of the most technologically advanced intelligence services on earth. If it doesn't have the technological capability to let the president securely use a blackberry or email, how on earth can it be effective in today's high tech environment?

    January 8, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  11. Jennifer

    To Sweetie: "Humas" Really?

    January 8, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  12. oregon thinker

    Barack is a cool guy people that don't like him, are COLD

    January 8, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |

    What a bunch of crap. He always looks for a way to cheat.
    God help this country.

    January 8, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  14. Pat-Pittsburgh

    First cigarettes, now his blackberry, how many more addictions does this man have. Oops, basketball too.

    January 8, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  15. Brian From Fort Mill, SC

    ga. January 8th, 2009 11:24 am ET

    this has become a necessary tool in most everyone's life, he should be able to keep it, make it hacker proof.
    There's no such thing as hacker proof. China and Russia are hacking into our governement computers, as we speak, and they have been doing so, ever since Al Gore invented the internet!

    January 8, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  16. AndyL

    @ Obama-mama, first of all "heirs" are people who inherit your money when you die. Perhaps you meant "he does not put on airs" which would mean a facade. You can go to dictionary.com if you don't understand some of the words I use.
    Second, I have been in the IT business for 20 years and for all you young hip people who think that Obama's use of a blackberry is cool, these devices can be easily compromised and given his position, would be a major security risk.

    January 8, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  17. carey

    For pity sakes, let Barack have his blackberry. It is a very necessary personal item!!!!!!!!!!

    January 8, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  18. Janice

    Seriously, who cares. Its a blackberry – whoop di doo

    January 8, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  19. Jerry S

    I served in the White House Communications Agency during the LBJ years and it was dificult to maintain secure communications even without the e-mail capabilities of today.
    However, I believe WHCA, the Secret Service and president elect Obama will come up with a solution to the problem that will satrisfy all parties to achieve the integrity of the presidential communications.

    January 8, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  20. Jazz

    If Obama wants to keep the black berry so what. What can he say on the black berry that the Secret Service needs to know.. They are worried about controlling his talking with other people,and by keeping the black berry they will not have acess to any of his news unless published. Trying to screen is everyday black berry will be a problem. How much time will he spend on it anyway. He will be busy doing other things but when he is asked a questions, email the answer. Let the black berry stay. Text your wife or kids while you are away. Go Obama fight for the black berry.

    January 8, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  21. SFA Grad

    Mike Dallas January 8th, 2009 10:24 am ET

    Those surrounding the next President should be encouraging the use of electronic communication not "dumbing down" the PE by taking the same device that keeps him connected to everyday folks.
    I'm curious...just what everyday folks is the incoming president (or any past president for that matter) going to be connected to?
    There's probably not much he can keep up with on his blackberry that he can't keep up with through other means.

    January 8, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  22. 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. When you tend to read and write at a 10th grade level, you tend to think and write at a 10th grade level. Hence, your dumb comment.

    January 8, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  23. Dave, Central Illinois

    Proud American said "I hear he need to keep the Blackberry so he can keep up with Idiot republicans"
    Yet another brilliant contribution by a child to add to the discussion. Hey, PA, why don't you call upstairs to your mom, have her fix you some pizza puffs or something, and let the adults talk a bit.

    January 8, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  24. Jessica, DE

    First of all, the fact that some people are getting up in arms about this either way ("GROW UP OBAMA I H8 U DEMOCRATZ!!111" "SECRET SERVICE IS MEAN LET HIM KEEP IT!!111") is hilarious.

    Second, has anyone heard these comments in context? The fact that he said you would have to "pry it" away from him makes it seem like he was joking. I'm sure he's not happy about giving it up, but I doubt he's going to raise a huge fuss over it.

    January 8, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  25. Nelson Colorado Springs Co.

    As long as president Obama don't use his Blackberry for goverment use. or The CIA can use USVT coding for E-mail

    January 8, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
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