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Originally published Friday, January 23, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Battle over; Obama gets his BlackBerry

/ WASHINGTON — There is one addiction President Obama will not have to kick: his BlackBerry. For more than two months, he has been...

The New York Times

/ WASHINGTON — There is one addiction President Obama will not have to kick: his BlackBerry.

For more than two months, he has been waging a battle with his handlers to keep his BlackBerry, which, like millions of other Americans, he has relied upon for years to stay connected with friends and advisers.

He won the fight, aides said Thursday, but the privilege of becoming the nation's first e-mailing president comes with rules.

"The president has a BlackBerry through a compromise that allows him to stay in touch with senior staff and a small group of personal friends in a way that use will be limited and that the security is enhanced to ensure his ability to communicate," said Robert Gibbs, new White House press secretary.

First, only a select circle of people will have his address, creating a true hierarchy for who makes the cut and who does not.

Second, anyone placed on the A list to receive his e-mail address must first receive a briefing from the White House counsel's office.

Third, messages from the president will be designed so they cannot be forwarded.

Obama has received his BlackBerry. Late Thursday, Obama said, "I don't think it's actually up and running yet."

The device is important to Obama, who has voiced his own wariness about entering the "bubble" enveloping a president.

Gibbs said the security of Obama's personal device has been "enhanced to ensure his ability to communicate, but to do so effectively."

Still, many of the president's e-mails will become subject to public scrutiny.

"The presumption regarding those e-mails is that they are all subject to the Presidential Records Act," said Gibbs, which means that all but purely personal missives will end up in the National Archives.

The press secretary had his own assessment of the news value of the long-running story of Obama's BlackBerry: "Almost as exciting as the presidential dog."

Material from The Chicago Tribune is included in this report.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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