Washington's new Blackberry elite

Only those who have the President's email address are truly part of his inner circle

In a city obsessed by status symbols and access to power, nothing tops being one of the few who can send emails to President Barack Obama's "security enhanced" Blackberry.

Ever since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, there has been a hot-line from the White House to the Kremlin. The modern version of that "red phone" is the little silver device hitched to Mr Obama's belt. Nothing in Washington is more coveted than a spot on the list of email addresses that can pass unimpeded to his inbox.

"I finally agreed to limit the number of people who could email me. It's a very exclusive list," Mr Obama told the annual Alfalfa Club dinner where the elite of the Washington elite gather. "How exclusive? Everyone look at the person sitting on your left. Now look at the person sitting on your right. None of you have my email address."

The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, may be the most powerful woman in America but her emails to the President's Blackberry bounce. The same goes for the heads of Fortune 500 companies whose hands are outstretched, seeking access to a share of the $819bn economic stimulus plan that the President is backing.

For decades, discovering who was in and out in Washington was an art form which involved scouring the invitation lists for state dinners and the visitor logs to the presidential retreat at Camp David. In Bill Clinton's time, the names of guests invited for sleepovers in the Lincoln Bedroom was one indication. Today, it is about having Mr Obama's email address, although investigations by The New York Times and The Washington Post have done little to reveal just who is on the exclusive list.

Michelle Obama is undoubtedly on his list, as is the Vice-President, Joe Biden, who has his very own top secret Blackberry. Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, and the President's top advisers and members of his close circle of Chicago friends are also part of his tight email circle.

Beyond that, not much is known. Anthony Lake, one of Mr Obama's top foreign policy advisers before the election, no longer has the President's ear, or his thumb, as one wag put it. "No," he told a reporter. "Did. Don't."

Mr Lake does not feel excluded, however, since most members of the Obama cabinet are also off the list. Even the Defence Secretary, Robert Gates is not included, but his advisers say that is because he sees the President in person so often that he does not need to communicate by email.

The secure email list is not just to safeguard the President from spam. The CIA wants to protect him from cyber attacks. One nightmare is that the President's emails get forwarded to a hostile foreign intelligence service. To reduce the risk, his address will be changed regularly and security systems ensure that none of his emails can be forwarded or have attachments.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?