Obama will get to keep his BlackBerry

The Baltimore Sun

WASHINGTON - The president wants a BlackBerry, the president gets a BlackBerry.

It's no secret that the Secret Service was none too happy about President Barack Obama's fondness for his personal e-mail device. That's because the addictive hand-held communicators are popular targets for the worldwide web of password scammers and malicious hackers. More worrisome for those who must protect the president: Mobile phones can be used to track the whereabouts of their user.

But Obama has struck a deal with his protectors, aides said yesterday.

"A limited group of senior staffers and personal friends" will have access to Obama's e-mail address, according to Robert Gibbs, the new White House press secretary. "It's a pretty small group of people."

It's important to Obama - who has voiced his own wariness about entering the "bubble" enveloping a president.

"He believes that it's a way of keeping in touch with folks, a way of doing it outside of getting stuck in a bubble," Gibbs said.

Gibbs said the security of Obama's personal device has been "enhanced to ensure his ability to communicate, but to do so effectively."

Still, many of the president's e-mails will become subject to public scrutiny some day.

"The presumption regarding those e-mails is that they are all subject to the Presidential Records Act," said Gibbs, which means that all but purely personal missives eventually will end up in the National Archives.

The press secretary, for his part, has issued his own assessment of the news value of the long-running story of Obama's BlackBerry: "Almost exciting as the presidential dog."

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