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?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Angel Di Maria is shown the red card
tech
Sport
Roger Federer after his win over Tomas Berdych
sport
Life and Style
News in briefs: big pants in 'Bridget Jones's Diary'
fashionBig knickers are back
Sport
James Milner is set to sign for Liverpool this week despite rival interest from Arsenal
sportReds baulk at Benteke £32.5m release clause
News
The controversial Motor Neurone Disease Association poster, featuring sufferer Michael Smith, has drawn a series of angry complaints
newsThis one has been criticised for its 'threatening tone'
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: Financial Reporting Manager

£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executives - OTE £25,000

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A young, vibrant and growing co...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Software Developer - C# .Net

£18500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: While some fundamental programm...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Software Developer - C# .Net

£23500 - £28500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for someone wi...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral