Marc Ambinder is reporting that President Obama will be allowed to keep his BlackBerry, over the concerns of the Secret Service. I spoke last week with Joe Hagin, former deputy chief of staff to President Bush, about why he thinks that is not a good idea.
The high vulnerability of BlackBerrys, along with all other smart phones, to hacking is the least of Mr. Hagin’s concerns, even though when he was in charge of operations at the White House, White House staffers were not allowed to carry BlackBerrys on foreign trips to protect them from being hacked.
“You can solve the security and technical isues. It really boils down to a political and legal issue, and human nature,” he said.
Mr. Hagin said that with all of the friends that Mr. Obama will be trying to keep in touch with, “how long until one of those friends forwards something he sent them, to show off?”
“It would play right into the hands of people who want to play the ‘gotcha’ game,” Mr. Hagin said.
Mr. Hagin happens to be one of the men who pushed the Secret Service to give BlackBerrys to White House staffers after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“On September 11 most executive branch officials were not capable of communicating effectively at all,” he said. “Our colleagues on the Hill were raving about how they were able to keep in touch with colleagues, family and friends.”
“Several weeks after September 11 we put our foot down and said: ‘We’re getting BlackBerrys. We’ve got to be able to do our job.’”