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
News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
newsMinistry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
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: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links