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. donna

    Well Don, you speak for yourself..millions MORE DID vote for him...if they didn't, he wouldn't be POTUS now would he?

    January 8, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  2. Alen Yen

    The security issue might have less to do with the communications, and more to do with the ability for someone to track his location via the device...

    January 8, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |


    January 8, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  4. RDKirk

    By the way, the president is the boss of the executive branch. What's happening here is that the Secret Service is trying to convince the president-elect that it's wiser for someone in his position not to communicate by e-mail or blackberry because neither is as secure as other methods they have available.

    But to be sure....the president makes these rules. If he decides "I'm going to do it," that's totally under his authority. The Secret Service does not give commands to the president–the president commands the Secret Service.

    January 8, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  5. YC

    He can have his Blackberry as long as he uses it like everybody else who work for the government or on government programs: follow the security safeguarding rules. I don't see any problem with that. He needs to stay connected. Period.

    January 8, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  6. Daniela

    If it means keeping us safe and protected and have our information kept private. GIVE IT UP! YOU NEED TO FOLLOW THE RULES WHEN IT COMES TO THIS ONE! Look at what happen to Sara Palin, a college student got into her information and she was a canadite, imagine a terroist group getting hold of OUR INFORMATION> THe information in no longer is but OURS...KEEP IT PRIVATE

    January 8, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  7. John in Ohio

    "from a man that rented out a football stadium for his acceptance speech. do as i say, not as i do at it's finest."

    He rented out a football stadium because a lot of people wanted to be there. It was a nice thing to do. Deal with it.

    January 8, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  8. Kevin

    As I read these comments, I realize, these people must not have a life, to actually write this stupidity. First of all, if its not a big deal, why do you even bother to write? Second, you do realize that someone without a computer/bberry under his circumstances does loses touch with the outer world.

    Another point is, we are reading the transcript. You can't tell if PE was saying it in a humorous fashion. This are going to be a long 8 years if people keep whining like they do!

    January 8, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  9. Larry, Apex, North Carolina

    Let him keep his Blackberry! He is a different man and going to be a different type of President than the ones before him. Keep in touch with the real world, Mr. Obama-we are behind you!

    January 8, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  10. MsAud

    I understand the President-Elects addiction to his Blackberry, but for his own security, he needs to give it up. I am sure that he will. It's just a little hard for a 'tech junkie" to withdraw. 😉

    January 8, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  11. bear

    How can you not love this guy?
    How about not using it for anything secretive?
    We finally have a real live individual who has a brain in the White House.

    January 8, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  12. Brian... the proud American..

    I hear a lot of folks on here who want President Obama to follow the rules... I would be afraid that the would want to be uber secretive, tight-lipped, and disconnected.. whoa we just had an administration that did that.. look at where that got us.. at least if he is using a blackberry we know he is talking to someone and we could always find out how.. do you know how many boyfriends, husbands, girlfriends, and wives get busted by what they do on handhelds.. at least we would be able to know what the prez is doing.. this seems trivial.. lets figure out how to get my 401K back in the green, black or positive!

    January 8, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  13. Maggie from Virginia

    I thought the Obama team would stop communicating with me once the election was over. Boy was I wrong. I get daily updates on what's going on with the transition. A lot of the information I get is not reported by the media. This is change. I love it.

    January 8, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  14. John in Ohio

    "There you Obambots go, since I work in the field of IT, this data can be stolen no matter how well it is encrypted or secured, it is a NEVER ENDING BATTLE against hackers. "

    I also work in the field of IT. If you have no data worth stealing, there's no point making something secure. That's why not every web site is https. If he doesn't have anything relating to national secrets on it, if he doesn't keep any sensitive information on it, if he just uses it to keep in touch, who cares if it gets hacked? Somebody might release to the world Obama talking to his girls about school! Oh no!

    January 8, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  15. Lyndon from CA

    Mr. President Elect, your staff is only trying to shield you and your office from accountability by claiming plausible deniability. "What did the President know and when did he know it?" All of your predecessors have avoided having to answer this question, you should be no different.

    January 8, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  16. John in Lincoln, NE

    Listen to you people. He's grounded because he want to keep his Blackberry? His ability to keep in touch with people electronicaly make him down to earth? Come on.

    News flash: People, real every day working people, who are well grounded, down to earth and value personal communication in order to stay connected don't rely on Blackberrys or Treos or chat rooms or blogs. They talk to each other, read newspapers and occasionaly watch the local news.

    Lastly, if the Secret Service asks the President to do something can't he just do it without putting up a big fight. I gotta think there are better things he could be spending his time on.

    January 8, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  17. Contrary Mary

    HAHAHAHA...how it must hurt his pride to know he has no rights at all now!!! We own him! He works for us, not us for him....and with the looming Depression he will be working for free before long. Nobama, no more privacy! You wanted it and you got it....your the middleman with no rights or privacies..how does it feel?

    January 8, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  18. Ed Olanrewaju - Virginia

    You guys on here can't help yourself but to be negative about every action Obama makes. I cannot for the life of me think why the constant bashing is necessary, he hasn't even become president yet, and most of you think he is way over his head. He is way smarter than the dumb idiot we have in there now, and the jury is still out on weather he will actually be a good president. Most of our past good president came into the office with no experience. So, please give the man a chance, unless the one's bashing him have other motives, like because he is a black man. I sincerely hope that is not the case.


    January 8, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  19. frem

    Staying in flow with everyday life......connected to the real world. Come on now, what fantasy world does Obama think he lives in. For the next four years, his everyday life will be his presidency and believe it or not, THIS IS THE REAL WORLD!! It's full of hate, bigotry, war, famine, terror, disease and death. He made his bed, now he must lie in it. There is no escape; no Blackberry to hide in. So, be the man and give up your toys. There will be time to play later when your old, gray and no longer president. Hopefully that will be after only four years, because with an immature attitude towards material possessions like yours you can't handle the seriousness of the issues facing America. Like my grandmother always said – "talk is cheap"

    January 8, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  20. pam Eugene OR

    It is hard to believe some of you people how are so bitter. No matter what it is you find something nasty or mean to say. Let Barack keep it for everyday ordinary chatting just no state secrets. I am sure he is smart enough to control how he uses it.
    Come on you haters. If you have nothing productive to say just keep quiet and stop the pure vile.

    January 8, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  21. Lorna, NY

    Geez, let him keep it!

    January 8, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  22. donna

    Yall Obama haters are HILARIOUS....just bitter and rude for no reason...calling his supporters OBAMBOTS and whatnot...makes not difference..he will be "YOUR PRESIDENT TOO"..GET USE TO IT OR MOVE OUT OF THE COUNTRY...it's pretty simple....

    statements such as:


    only proves that people don't really THINK beforehand..how is he hiding something if he is trying to keep his Blackberry which can be hacked into? Most SANE people try to get rid of things to HIDE stuff..they don't try to keep them....seriously folks...LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 8, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  23. TCM

    He needs tostop using the device, it's compromisable, and knowing him, he'll put something on there that someone will intercept...He;s creating more of a security risk for himself than necessary.

    it's WIRELESS people..."Transparency," is another of his buzzwords used to steal your vote. The president cannot possibly be transparent. So, yeah, for the sake of national security, if he even cares about it, he needs to give up the device. If not, hopefully someone in the Secret Service will continually jam it until he deems it useless. Man, this is unreal....we really ARE dealing with total inexperience here. Doesn't this guy know that's a major form of intelligence gathering is tapping wireless? Holy crap! Is he that green?

    He's going to run the country, not a close circle of friends. Besides, have the new "Chief Performance Officer," ( you know, that WHOLE NEW branch of government created to reduce government spending?) carry it around and keep track of the cronies. I'm still waiting for the man to show some sign of leadership and effectivity, and stop seeing CNN reports of the little cute things.

    January 8, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  24. jane

    It's time to grow up. Give up the blackberry.

    January 8, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  25. Susan

    As the President of the United States – he must put the security of our nation before the ability to use his blackberry device. I would hope that our next President doesn't have to learn things the hard way by having his blackberry correspondence splattered accross the headlines before he agrees to give the blackberry device up.

    January 8, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
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