White House e-mail blackout
February 3rd, 2011
07:03 PM ET

White House e-mail blackout

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The White House learned an important lesson Thursday…the most powerful place in the world is not immune to some of the technical glitches that drive most American’s crazy.

Shortly before 8 a.m. the unclassified e-mail system that top advisers and the president himself rely on to communicate with each other, went dark.

Reporters left hanging by unanswered e-mails were told of the blackout by a press assistant who said, “if you need to get in touch with anyone, you have to go up and see them because email is down.”

At 11:54 a.m., White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer made a formal announcement via Twitter.
“FYI: WH unclassified e-mail went down shortly before 8 AM.’ He tweeted. “Verizon is working to solve the problem. Pool reports will be avail in press office.”

Not long after that an overhead intercom system sounded out a familiar announcement to those who worked in the White House during the dark ages. Pool reports, normally sent around electronically, were available on paper.

That’s how it went for several hours. The podium where spokesman Robert Gibbs normally stands during his briefings, was carpeted with pool reports and a transcript of an earlier gaggle by Gibbs aboard Air Force One.

By then Gibbs was standing in State College, Pennsylvania, where the president was holding an event on jobs and innovation. He talked about “investing in cutting-edge research and technology,’ while his own technology-e-mail to his little BlackBerry – was failing him.

White House officials said classified communications were not affected.

Tech workers were finally able to get the White House e-mail running by mid afternoon.

Ahhh, the evidence flashed on computer screens at 3:03 p.m. It was a transcript of remarks the president had made at the National Prayer Breakfast early in the morning.

Perhaps a sign that there is power in prayer.

Topics: White House

soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Jay in NC

    Looks like Barry's internet kill switch is being tested. Just like the kind they use in China and Egypt.

    February 3, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  2. Joe

    Redundancy in commo. It works for the Military. I used to laugh at an old guy who kept his money in at home. I asked why. His response "I lived through a "glitch" called the Depression. Now you all quit asking us old folks for life lessons when Google game out. What happens in the next "glitch" when your electronic life (books, bank account, basic essentials) dissapear?"

    Now I realize I gone from gone from an "in an addition to" towards "dependent on" an E-Life. Which we should all plan for. Not conspiracy theory mimdset. However as any other natural disaster if that is a fair comparison. My advice to people is a P.A.C.E plan (for any situation)

    Certainly not the rule of law but even a parent can put in place with a child for who to contact in an emergency.
    Primary: Call mom
    Alternate:Call dad
    Contingency: Call Aunt Jane
    Emergency: go to nearest official location (library, fire station, police, etc)

    On a lighter note; this can't be good PR for Verizon. There should be 100 funny commercials by now.

    -kids talking on cans with a string
    -The Pony express
    -A plane spelling out words in the sky

    The options are endless hahaha

    February 4, 2011 at 10:06 am |
  3. Yvonne

    hours ago: The fact that I need to have a place to stay feed my child and to just survive while these jobs are being created is the most important thing in my life right now.
    I have worked my whole life and never thought this would happen to me I have sent at least 20 to 30 resumes a day and have gone to places and have only gotten 2 interviews which I did not get the job. I know there are people that say we aren't doing anything but sitting around collecting money that is completely wrong and also very upsetting .
    It drags all of us to a place where we don't and shouldn't be because we don't deserve it. We appreciate what the Government has done the fact that they only put in a 13 month extension and didn't include the 99ers is so wrong and now that the Republicans are a majority in the House it doesn't seem like we get any attention even though the Speaker of the House said if it is paid for we will get it through and they found a way to pay for it so it needs to be done!!!!!!!!
    We have to have money for gas to get to interviews and a roof over our head and food to eat while we are still looking for jobs that are going to be created.
    We help every other Country but the Government isn't willing to support 1.5 million people in the United States (that number is not correct either) and the fact that the unemployment went down to 9% from 9.4% is also not correct it is a way for the Government to say things are getting better and we are doing our job.
    Well guess what even though you said 1.5 million people isn't really that much compared to how many people are on unemployment is so wrong to count us out while we voted for you and are about to have nothing.
    I don't have people to help me and I need that extra time and money since the job market is getting better to sustain me and my child so I can keep looking and driving there.
    Don't push us out because of our debt because this money would go straight into the economy and that will help the economy and help the 99ers survive before you have people's lives on your conscience while you are living quite good and not worried about 1.5 people (which I know is not correct) we are losing hope and you guys are the only people that can help us for now and we need you to make sure we are taken care of while looking for jobs!!!!!!!!!!!
    We need this bill to pass asap HR6556 because it is all we have for hope and time to keep looking otherwise it will be the end of a lot of 99ers so please do the right thing and help us and help the economy to keep going!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Thank you!!!!!!

    February 7, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
  4. ed.c.

    Can't go to the libary any more, they are closing down due to tax cuts

    February 8, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
  5. Liz Carter in Georgia

    @Yvonne; I prayerfully sympathize with your plight and I truly hope 'change is gonna come', and SOON for us all! I'm federally retired and hurting too, because of higher taxes, higher insurance premiums; Yet higher rent, higher utilities, higher gasoline prices, higher grocery prices, and I'm not able to get back out and work; I'm taking care of my 94 year old mother with alzheimers. However, this sort of disconnect has always occurred under a REPUBLICAN MAJORITY CONGRESS! They don't care about us POOR!

    February 8, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Jay in NC

      The Democrats were the majority congress for 6 years! you know during the economic down turn. Now that the Republicans are back in charge things will improve.

      February 9, 2011 at 9:41 am |
  6. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Well that is true! However, the Democrats may have been in the majority, but they were only trying to work along with the Republicans in a bi-partisan manner; keeping fearmongering and public confusion down; without all of the transparent show of outrage and disdain! Avoiding media critiguing, canvassing, polling and more negative public perception! I GUESS WE LEARNED OUR LESSON! Now, since Republicans are truly in charge, we may end up back in the ditch! I PRAY all of them up there have learned some sense!

    February 9, 2011 at 7:18 pm |

    This country has been in failure mode for a long time. Now, with a unqualified, nothing more than a door to door organizer, a liar, and a corrupt union supporter and a dressed up Chicago thug for a President the American people better wake up. With the back room deals and the self serving politicians in both parties this country is going to hell. There is no common sense. The Legacy Obama is generating by being a "Pon" for the power brokers. This man is a disgrace to to my country. He will use and say anything to serve his corrupt unions, Acorn etc. Like Hitler he is a good orator and sold the American people a bill of goods. And, this country is paying big time for his alliances with all his corrupt henchmen. He and all his thugs are going to rot in hell. I am 77 a probably will not be around to witness the total destruction to my country he is causing. Where in the hell are the people's minds that they can't see through this guy. He is evil the devil here on earth. I never thought I would say this but this world would be a hell of a lot better if this creature would just disappear with his thugs. There is an uncontrollable cancer spreading in Washington. There is no common sense just greed. Just look at what we are dealing with. They can do insider trading but Martha Stewart goes to jail. Pelosi mad millions along with the rest of her cronies and nothing and it's okay. Truly disgusting. The Legacy Obama is gong to leave behind will be a disgrace to his children having such a liar and who has sold his country down the road. He should be impeached. The American people know nothing about him. His birth is still in question and his education credentials. I bet when you applied for your position you where investigated or when you go to the bank you gotta show the correct identification. If you want to close the border let the Russians build it. I guarantee that would stop what is going there. Those clowns in Washington know what to do and how to do it but as long as they are riding the gravey train we are doomed. WAKE UP AMERICA!!!!!

    500 IDLEWILD RD.

    February 10, 2012 at 2:47 pm |