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