According to today’s NYTimes, President-elect Barack Obama is digging in his heels about giving up his BlackBerry. Good for him! I understand that there are security and legal concerns – cell phones can be tracked via GPS and cell towers and they can be turned on remotely by the service providers, and presidential emails are not privileged and private, they’re documented and archived and have been since email had the post-Watergate documentation rules applied to them.
But how often does a President demand that everyone around him relinquish their cell phones for security reasons? How hard would it be for the Secret Service to turn to the President and say “Your phone too, sir.” Seriously, when security provisions would be that strict, the Secret Service isn’t going to take no for an answer, even from the President.
And given that everything the President says and does is documented, how is archiving emails any different? Historians will know in a few decades when President Bush II called over to the East Wing and said he’d be late for dinner (if they care, anyway) – how is Obama’s emailing or texting Michelle any different? And popping the Presidential bubble is far too important, especially after eight years of a president who’s bubble was not only thick and stifling, but opaque too.
President-elect Obama, you were quoted as saying “They’re going to pry it out of my hands.” Good. Don’t let them.