January 22nd, 2009
03:00 PM ET
9 years ago

Access to 'BarackBerry' limited to small, select group

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/22/art.barackberry0122.gd.jpg caption="President Obama's new smartphone is reportedly a Sectera Edge made by General Dynamics."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) – It’s likely to be the most exclusive e-mail list in the world: Just who will rate access to the presidential smartphone?

“The president has a BlackBerry,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday, clearing up weeks of speculation about whether President Obama would be able to hold on to a cherished method of communicating.

Watch: Obama gets a special PDA

The decision to allow Obama to carry a smartphone is “a compromise that allows him to stay in touch with senior staff and a small group of personal friends,” Gibbs told the media in his first press conference since inauguration.

“Use will be limited and the security is enhanced to ensure his ability to communicate but to do so effectively,” Gibbs also said. “And to do so in a way that is protected.”

Gibbs said the 44th president’s e-mail traffic will – with some exceptions – be preserved for historical purposes.

“The presumption regarding those e-mails is that they’re all be subject to the Presidential Records Act,” said Gibbs, who added there are “some narrow exemptions” in the law for “strictly personal communications.”

The press secretary refused to provide any more details about the new president’s use of his new PDA, already being referred to as the “BarackBerry.”

Although Gibbs specifically mentioned the BlackBerry, Obama’s device is reportedly a Sectera Edge, a model from General Dynamics that is capable of encrypting top secret voice conversations and classified documents.

Filed under: Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Jim Doyle

    Who could not find him if they really wanted to. Technology is a tool no more or less. Some are craftsmen some are hack. If he is a craftsman and they can keep it secure more power to him. We have more inportant things to discuss.

    January 22, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  2. Rob

    Right now Chris Matthews is praying to a God he doesn't believe in that he gets to be on Obama's list. Sitting there drawing hearts around his picture of Obama, setting his email auto-signature to Mrs. Chris Obama, listening to Luther Vandross and starring gleefully at his feed from the White House.

    January 22, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  3. Pud

    What is the president trying to hide? What do you mean "some exceptions" on what will be availabe for archives?? Why is this man allowed to skirt the protocols of the highest office??? What about national security!!? This is an outra-. Oh, it's Obama, not Bush?

    Never mind. It's ok then.

    January 22, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  4. Jim Harvey

    Wonder what "with some exceptions" means? Doesn't the law say ALL presidential communications must be preserved?

    January 22, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  5. Chris from NY

    Man! This nust be one heck of a black berry.

    January 22, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  6. BB

    Good – he needs to be reachable by his family at all times. Those little girls love their daddy.

    January 22, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  7. EC

    That's fine... our President should be able to communicate with today's technology. President Obama is brilliant enough to know that he has to be careful about what he does on his blackberry. It's NOT that serious, everyone (meaning the media, and those Obama haters) as usual, will continue to blow this matter out of control just like they are doing with the Caroline Kennedy issue.

    January 22, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  8. Steele Curtain

    Give me a break. That address will be on the internet within 30 days. It will become Target No. 1 for hackers worldwide.

    Obama doesn't realize this because he is NAIVE!

    January 22, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  9. Joe Unger, San Francisco

    I wonder what the exceptions are in regards to the Presidential Records Act. And who gets to decide what is an exception? And who gets to know about the exceptions?
    I'm sure of you Obamaniacs are saying, duh, the exceptions are anything personal. Yet my questions are still valid. Something obvious from the Bush years is there must be oversight, trust but verify and all presidents should be held to the same standard; it shouldn't make a difference if we like one better than another.
    Also, can we get over these stupid made up words like barackberry.

    January 22, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  10. peter Orlando

    This is the good news forAmerica for Obama to keep his blackberry because he will be in touch with really world above all and really ordinary folks.

    January 22, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  11. Paula D

    Ofcourse with technology today Mr. Prez could carry a berry to keep intouch with a limited amount of people including his direct family. I'm for it....

    January 22, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  12. Meka

    AMERICA, advancing to the 21st Century.


    January 22, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  13. anon

    This is a sign that he is going to move technology to the forefront like it should be.

    January 22, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  14. Tim

    Steele Curtain – hmm. You must be from Pittsburgh.

    Yes, he is naive. Can you believe he actually said, "The fundamentals of the economy are strong." during the campaign!?

    No wait, that was your guy.

    Yes, I'm sure that he'll be exchanging the nucular (that spelling was so that you could understand it) codes on the Blackberry.

    If he handed you a million dollars you'd complain it was too heavy.

    January 22, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  15. Julie

    I think its refreshing to see a President so obviously in touch with technology.

    January 22, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  16. Jon in CA

    No doubt Obama's fav-five will include: Blago, Rezko, Ayers, Hawaii Dept of Birth Records, and his attorney.

    January 22, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  17. love cleveland

    In viewing Wolf's review of the story on TV just now, President Obama was referred to as "Mr." Obama. The story title on screen also read Mr. Obama. I think this is highly disrespectful of our new leader. Let's give him the recognition he deserves. The same as all former presidents.

    January 22, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  18. Brandon

    dear steele Curtian

    Your right he should take bush appoach, and live in a bubble, were everyone tells him what they think he needs to know. How that work out ( Oh yeah he did,nt even know gas had hits all time highs at the time).

    January 22, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |

    He is giving BB free promotion...practically endorsing it for FREE lol :).

    I'm so glad he's our prez!

    January 22, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  20. FJB

    Joe from S.F.:

    They're called portmanteaus, and no, everything must be coupled with 'Barack' whenever he uses or is involved with said item.

    January 22, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  21. kayla


    January 22, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  22. Matt

    @ John in CA

    You're an idiot.

    January 22, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  23. Paris

    And no one is thinking how this could jeopardize the security of this nation?

    What happened to the agile media to ask how this will effect our security.

    Sorry, I remember now Journalism died in 2008.

    January 22, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  24. Matt

    Does it have lasers pew pew?

    January 22, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  25. Patty in the CA mountains

    How cool to have a "cool" president....one who actually knows what a smartphone is rather than one who refers to "the google".....sweet

    January 22, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
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