John Ashcroft Briefs the Press on the Terrorist Threat

John Ashcroft Briefs the Press on the Terrorist Threat

John Ashcroft Briefs the Press on the Terrorist Threat

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
Oct. 30 2001 6:40 PM

John Ashcroft Briefs the Press on the Terrorist Threat



Q: Mr. Ashcroft, your department has issued a statement saying that a terrorist attack could occur at any moment—

A: That’s right.

Q: —but you won’t say what it is.


A: That’s right.

Q: Can you characterize the source of your information?

A: I cannot—I cannot get into the source of the information, for obvious, I think, reasons.

Q: Does it rhyme with “Hal Dayda”?


A: Pardon?

Q: Well, I mean, that isn’t a real person’s name, of course. I’m just saying, does it rhyme with that.

A: Oh, I see. (Whispers with FBI director Robert Mueller.) Yes, I think that’s a fair characterization.

Q: What about the terrorist threat itself?


A: I wish we could say more. We can’t.

Q: Does it involve something blowing up?

A: Of course, I can’t say.

Q: Oh, come on. If nothing blows up, how bad can it be?


A: Now you’re trying to trick me into saying something I shouldn’t …

Q: Let me make it easier for you. Is this attack likely to cause a loud sound? Something like, “Kablooie”?

A: Well, attacks aren’t very often silent. So, yes.

Q: Will there be smoke?


A: Ah, well, sure, probably.

Q: Will the smoke be in the shape of any particular kind of food?

A: Pardon?

Q: I was thinking of a mushroom.

A: You know I can’t answer that!

Q: Is the threat animal, vegetable, or mineral?

A: Well, now you’re just being silly …

Q: Is it bigger than a breadbox?

A: Pardon?

Q: The bomb. Is it bigger than a breadbox?

A: I didn’t say it was a bomb!

Q: The generator of noise and smoke, then. Will it be bigger than a breadbox?

A: The smoke? Will the smoke be bigger than a breadbox? Of course.

Q: No, I mean the thing that makes the smoke.

A: How the heck should I know?

Q: Well, you’re the one saying we’re under threat of imminent attack!

A: We are.

Q: Attack from what?

A: Look, we’re under threat of attack—

Q: I got that—

A: And I’m just saying—

Q: Yes?

A: I’m just saying that if you happen to die along with a great many other people within the next 48 hours, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Q: But—

A: Because I did.

Q: And therefore—

A: And therefore citizens should take steps to avoid being the victim of a terrorist attack.

Q: Such as?

A: In a free society, that’s a matter of individual choice.

Thank you.

(The foregoing has been a free translation of this  Justice Department transcript.)