Michael Bennet's e-mail snafu amid terror-plot revelations

michael bennet photo gr aph.jpg
Michael Bennet.
The "send" key: It's so easy to push -- and so dangerous when it's pressed prematurely. Witness the chain of events that followed an unwise forward inadvertently shared with assorted reporters by a member of Senator Michael Bennet's staff as information about a Colorado connection to terrorism-related raids in Queens, New York was surfacing yesterday. The thread, published in its entirety by Politico, doesn't contain anything truly embarrassing -- like, for instance, "As you know, Senator Bennet believes the threat from terrorists is over and we should transition the Army to fulltime flower growers." But it paints a portrait of his minions trying in vain to make their boss (referred to as "MFB") seem connected even though the FBI isn't returning calls and worrying about fellow Senator Mark Udall's lead when it came to sharing his concern with the media. There's even a list of all the outlets with which Udall had already spoken, including the Denver Post, the Associated Press, KOA and Channel 9. Sorry, you other stations: You're lower priorities.

As Politico's Josh Kraushaar points out, the episode "could fuel the perception that [Bennet's] not ready for prime time" -- an amusing choice of wording considering that Tom Tancredo used the same phrase in denigrating the candidacy of Jane Norton earlier this week. Kraushaar adds, "The timing also couldn't have come at a worse time: former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff is announcing that he's running against Bennet in the Democratic primary later today."

Read the e-mails below:

-----Original Message----- From: Amodeo, Michael (Bennet) [mailto:*********************] Sent: Tue 9/15/2009 8:17 PM Subject: Bennet Statement on Anti-Terrorism Investigation

U.S. Senator
Michael Bennet
Member: Agriculture, Banking, Homeland Security and Aging Committees

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

CONTACT: Deirdre Murphy - 202-224-5852

Michael Amodeo - 303-249-5286

Bennet Statement on Anti-Terrorism Investigation

Washington, DC - Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator for Colorado, released the following statement today regarding an ongoing anti-terrorism investigation. Bennet is a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

"We have been monitoring this situation closely and I have been in touch with the U.S. Deputy Attorney General. I will continue to keep close contact with law enforcement and work to ensure they have the resources they need."

- Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator for Colorado

From: Lane, Jeff (Bennet)
Sent: Tuesday, September 15, 2009 7:21 PM
To: Murphy, Deirdre (Bennet)
Subject: Re: Memo for MFB on Terror Cell in CO

Working on it .... FBI call back not made yet

From: Murphy, Deirdre (Bennet)
To: Hughes, Sarah (Bennet); Jammal, Sam (Bennet); Elhassani, Layth (Bennet); Lane, Jeff (Bennet)
Sent: Tue Sep 15 19:01:32 2009
Subject: RE: Memo for MFB on Terror Cell in CO

I've been pushing for press since this broke - we just needed him to talk to the FBI, which I know has been tough. I think he still needs to call these reporters - or we need to get a statement out - as soon as he talks to the FBI. I don't think it's too late - people are carefully watching this and Udall just put something out. Jeff, correct me if I'm wrong but right now the DP thinks that mfb hasn't received a briefing and I think we need to make clear that we are as much in the loop on this as Udall.

From: Hughes, Sarah (Bennet)
Sent: Tuesday, September 15, 2009 6:58 PM
To: Murphy, Deirdre (Bennet); Jammal, Sam (Bennet); Elhassani, Layth (Bennet); Lane, Jeff (Bennet)
Subject: RE: Memo for MFB on Terror Cell in CO

Bummed we missed this - I was under the impression we were being asked not to talk - looks like everyone else did and will lieky get the press. Lesson learned for next time

From: Murphy, Deirdre (Bennet)
Sent: Tuesday, September 15, 2009 4:06 PM
To: Jammal, Sam (Bennet); Elhassani, Layth (Bennet); Hughes, Sarah (Bennet); Lane, Jeff (Bennet)
Subject: RE: Memo for MFB on Terror Cell in CO

Udall spoke with the following outlets:

Karen Crummy, Denver Post (Udall spoke with Riley - ************)

Kristen Wyatt, AP - ***************************************

Nicole Vapp, Channel 9 *****************

Kathleen Walker, KOA -********************

From: Jammal, Sam (Bennet)
Sent: Tuesday, September 15, 2009 5:55 PM
To: Murphy, Deirdre (Bennet); Elhassani, Layth (Bennet); Hughes, Sarah (Bennet); Lane, Jeff (Bennet)
Subject: RE: Memo for MFB on Terror Cell in CO

Here I some rough talking points I put together in case MFB decides to seek out press:

Talking Points on Terror Cell in Denver

· Since early this morning, I have been in close contact with law enforcement in Colorado, FBI Director Mueller and agents on the ground. There does not appear to be any imminent threat. The raid in New York was preventative and the investigation is ongoing. At this time, the best thing we can do is let law enforcement do their job and follow through with their efforts to keep us safe.

· Today's news is another reminder of threats we face as a nation. It is important that we remain vigilant and responsive to threat of another terrorist attack. As a member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, I have briefed on a number of occasions on these threats and the issues we face in securing our nation. I applaud the President, Secretary Napolitano, Attorney General Holder and FBI Director Mueller for their efforts in making sure we detect and respond to all threats to our security.

· Local law enforcement plays a critical role in homeland security. It is a top priority of mine to make sure that the national and local law enforcement are in constant communication and have the resources they need to conduct counterterrorism efforts. Effective communication and intelligence sharing is a critical component for protecting our communities.

· **If asked about the government's surveillance techniques (possible use of wiretaps), he can say: I can't comment on the details of this investigation at this time. There are a lot of details that are still emerging.

From: Murphy, Deirdre (Bennet)
Sent: Tuesday, September 15, 2009 5:41 PM
To: Elhassani, Layth (Bennet); Hughes, Sarah (Bennet); Jammal, Sam (Bennet); Lane, Jeff (Bennet)
Subject: RE: Memo for MFB on Terror Cell in CO

I'm sure it's what the fbi/mueller is telling the members to say.

From: Elhassani, Layth (Bennet)
Sent: Tuesday, September 15, 2009 5:38 PM
To: Murphy, Deirdre (Bennet); Hughes, Sarah (Bennet); Jammal, Sam (Bennet); Lane, Jeff (Bennet)
Subject: RE: Memo for MFB on Terror Cell in CO

This is same as Schumer's message.

From: Murphy, Deirdre (Bennet)
Sent: Tuesday, September 15, 2009 5:36 PM
To: Hughes, Sarah (Bennet); Elhassani, Layth (Bennet); Jammal, Sam (Bennet); Lane, Jeff (Bennet)
Subject: RE: Memo for MFB on Terror Cell in CO

Udall is saying to press - there is no imminent danger and the investigation is ongoing. He will likely do tv, has already spoken with dp and might put out a statement.

From: Hughes, Sarah (Bennet)
Sent: Tuesday, September 15, 2009 5:35 PM
To: Elhassani, Layth (Bennet); Jammal, Sam (Bennet); Lane, Jeff (Bennet); Murphy, Deirdre (Bennet)
Subject: RE: Memo for MFB on Terror Cell in CO

One other thought - do you want to highlight - perhaps at the bottom of the memo - a note for him to call Chief Whitman directly on his cell and that the chief will keep an eye out for his call - or would he prefer that Karin set up a call?

SKH

From: Elhassani, Layth (Bennet)
Sent: Tuesday, September 15, 2009 3:08 PM
To: Jammal, Sam (Bennet); Hughes, Sarah (Bennet); Lane, Jeff (Bennet); Murphy, Deirdre (Bennet)
Subject: RE: Memo for MFB on Terror Cell in CO

Some additional edits. Thanks for your quick work.

From: Jammal, Sam (Bennet)
Sent: Tuesday, September 15, 2009 4:56 PM
To: Hughes, Sarah (Bennet); Elhassani, Layth (Bennet); Lane, Jeff (Bennet); Murphy, Deirdre (Bennet)
Subject: RE: Memo for MFB on Terror Cell in CO

Thanks. I will make these changes. Barring other edits, I will keep from adding to the book until the very end of the day-in case we get more info from DOJ or on the FBI briefing.

From: Hughes, Sarah (Bennet)
Sent: Tuesday, September 15, 2009 4:51 PM
To: Jammal, Sam (Bennet); Elhassani, Layth (Bennet); Lane, Jeff (Bennet); Murphy, Deirdre (Bennet)
Subject: RE: Memo for MFB on Terror Cell in CO

Minor edits:

As noted earlier, Najibullah appears to reside in Colorado. Denver Police Chief Gerry Whitman has informed us that the FBI reached out to him last week and they are coordinating directly/effectively on their intelligence gathering efforts and the possible terror links of Najibullah. Since that initial briefing Chief Whitman has been in close coordination with the FBI and will be debriefed again tomorrow about the raids in Queens. It is unclear whether search warrants have been obtained or whether there are any other individuals in Colorado under surveillance by law enforcement. Unfortunately, Chief Whitman cannot brief staff on the details of the investigation. He has offered to brief you. Chief Whitman has already briefed Mayor Hickenlooper and Gov. Ritter.

Chief Whitman will take your call if you call his cell phone number any time tonight or tomorrow.

From: Jammal, Sam (Bennet)
Sent: Tuesday, September 15, 2009 2:45 PM
To: Elhassani, Layth (Bennet); Lane, Jeff (Bennet); Murphy, Deirdre (Bennet); Hughes, Sarah (Bennet)
Subject: Memo for MFB on Terror Cell in CO

All,

Here is what I have been able to put together on the terror raids in CO. There are still gaps to fill obviously, but this is what I have gathered from reviewing press accounts, our conversations with the Committee and Sarah's call with Chief Whitman (did I miss anything from your account?). Jeff is still waiting to hear back from DOJ.

I listed action items so the Senator can see what we are doing in response and to provide some options for further action. Please let me know if you want additional information. Ultimately, once the Senator speaks with the FBI or the Police Chief, significant gaps will be filled.

Sam

Sam Jammal
Legislative Counsel
Senator Michael Bennet
(202) 228-4944
Sam_Jammal@bennet.senate.gov



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