BY EDWIN E. VINEYARD
Why all this fuss about Obama’s Blackberry?
When this was mentioned initially, it was supposed to be a personal security issue. It seems clear to all those among us who watch NCIS, CSI, and similar [fictional scientific and technical] programs that with the right technology interlopers could trace the whereabouts of a person carrying a cell phone or a Blackberry. They might also trace calls made, or hack into private phone conversations. Realistic or not, we thought that was the issue.
Of course, if that technology is commonly available to foreign spies and domestic hackers, or to terrorists seeking to do harm, then there might be good and sufficient reasons for not wanting Obama to leave his Blackberry turned on and carry it everywhere he goes, or to use it for government business.
But now we are unsure whether this is the issue currently being discussed in the media.
It seems that some in the media are concerned that Obama’s personal Blackberry might not be subject to the rules, such as they are, regarding White House communications.
This follows a secretive Republican administration which has denied access to White House visitors’ logs, e-mails outside and inside, names of advisory committees on issues such as energy policy, deleted e-mails and other records, and has also stonewalled its staff from responding to Congressional subpoenas.
This comes after an administration that has used its intelligence gathering capacities to spy and record personal phone conversations of ordinary American citizens and between soldiers and wives.
Perhaps one can understand some valid media concern with this whole area, but it can easily go too far.
Certain recent media discourses have stated that Obama’s private Blackberry should not be private at all. When he becomes president this becomes property of his government employer, and thus all his texts and calls are subject to scrutiny as government records.
Personally, we are not fully convinced that all business phone conversations and e-mails sent or received from within the White House should be subject to any kind of open records law. Perhaps it is understandable that a court might direct the disclosure of specific records pertaining to a legal case involving alleged violation of law.
We are fully convinced, however, that Obama’s personal conversations or text messages on his Blackberry with his wife and two girls are out of bounds. We would think also that there must also be many other personal and family calls to or from the White House within the first family or to and from friends that are not official records.
The president and his family should have personal lives and personal telephones.
Further, the president should also be able to use his own laptop or other computer for personal correspondence with friends, keeping personal notes and family records, and other matters not pertaining directly to the conduct of public business.
We can simply go too far with this expectancy of openness, and at some point it becomes an intrusion into privacy.
– Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate, is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer