Senior White House adviser Karl Rove was the only White House staff member with a BlackBerry device on Sept. 11, 2001.
Rove reveals in his new memoir, Courage and Consequence, that he kept his BlackBerry after the campaign “in order to be able to send and receive messages without violating the Hatch Act [barring federal employees from engaging in partisan political activities]. At the same time, the White House Communications Office had nixed BlackBerry [devices] for official business because they were still trying to figure out how to keep the White House’s e-mail traffic secure.”
It’s a marked change from the current administration; President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein Obama Chelsea Manning tests positive for COVID-19 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Tight security for Capitol rally; Biden agenda slows Obama backs Trudeau in Canadian election MORE famously fought, and won, a battle to keep his hand-held device.
Rove recalls that he was on Air Force One with several other staff members on the day of the attack, and the plane’s phones were tied up with official business. Several of his colleagues borrowed his BlackBerry to type out e-mails to their loved ones saying they were OK, and the notes would be sent when the plane passed over a cell phone tower.
Rove writes: “I’ve wondered since that day why the Federal Aviation Administration and airlines force passengers to turn off their wireless devices. My BlackBerry didn’t interfere with the operation of Air Force One on Sept. 11.”
To answer his question, while Rove’s single device may not have caused any damage, the FAA warns that the simultaneous use of cell phones by thousands of airline passengers in flight could interfere with aircraft communications.