Obama gets to keep his BlackBerry
It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's 'super-encryption'
President Obama can keep his BlackBerry, making him the first sitting president to use email.
Barack Obama has resisted calls to relinquish his beloved handheld despite concerns over personal security, espionage, and presidential record-keeping.
"He has a BlackBerry through a compromise that allows him to stay in touch with senior staff and a small group of personal friends in a way that use will be limited and security enhanced to ensure his ability to communicate, but to do so effectively and to do so in a way that is protected," White House press secretary Roberts Gibbs told reporters on Thursday.
Some in the intelligence community fear the device may be a source of information leaks or be used to track the president's location.
Gibbs wouldn't elaborate on how the president's handheld will be protected, or the type of security enhancements that have been added.
Former presidents have chosen not to use email because they can be subpoenaed by Congress and made public under the Presidential Records Act. Gibbs said the "presumption" is that emails on the BlackBerry are still subject to public records laws, but noted the Act includes exceptions for strictly personal messages.
Of course, sometimes personal communications are released anyway, such the this clip of Lyndon Johnson informing his tailor about how he wants his pants fitted in relation to his "bunghole."
According to The Atlantic magazine, the president will use a BlackBerry fitted with a "super-encryption package" developed by an unnamed intelligence agency - most likely the National Security Agency.
"He believes that it's a way of keeping in touch with folks and a way of doing it outside of getting stuck in a bubble," said Gibbs at the press briefing.
Neither George W. Bush nor Bill Clinton used email during their presidencies, although Bush has claimed he used email before becoming president. ®
Could just be RSA with a 1024-bit (or more) key. Any encryption can be broken with enough processing power, of course, but it would take so long it doesn't matter. Since his communication will be limited to a small, fixed group of people, it wouldn't be hard to make them use some sort of encryption on their emails. Have the email address he gives them route to a computer that checks for encryption before forwarding to the address his Blackberry actually uses to enforce the policy.
I can think of three reasons he's doing this:
1. He believes in open government so much (see other recent articles) that he's willing to have his communications become public.
2. He doesn't plan on writing anything he wouldn't want to have see the light of day.
3. He's just really, really addicted to it (far more than to his cigarettes).
"Good on Obama, erm sir you can't have email. Get bent I need my Blackberry and I'm the boss"
OK, how about:
"We seriously don't advise an invasion of Iran sir". "Get bent I'm the Commander in Chief and I'm the boss so we are going to invade"
I actually think he's very clever, takes advice but challenges - hence the special encryption:
"Weak security ? Why are we paying the NSA billions of dollars if they can't secure my email ? Sort it or I cut the funding."
Blackberry take up to soar amongst US residents
I hear Paris has expressed an interest as its got to be more secure than a sidekick.
@AC Re: Bush and Clinton - am I the only one that doesn't get the joke?