General John Ashcroft
FBI Director Robert Mueller
Department of Justice Conference Room
October 29, 2001
ATTY GEN. ASHCROFT: Good afternoon.
The administration has concluded, based on information developed, that there
may be additional terrorist attacks within the United States and against United
States interests over the next week. The administration views this information
as credible, but unfortunately it does not contain specific information as to
the type of attack or specific targets.
Consequently, a terrorist threat advisory update has been issued to 18,000 law
enforcement agencies across the country through the National Law Enforcement
Telecommunications System, known as NLETS. We have notified law enforcement
to continue on highest alert and to notify immediately the FBI of any unusual
or suspicious activity.
We ask for the patience and cooperation of the American people if and when they
encounter additional measures undertaken by local law enforcement or federal
law enforcement authorities and others who are charged with securing the safety
of the public.
As always, we urge Americans in the course of their normal activities to remain
alert and to report unusual circumstances or inappropriate behavior to the proper
Additional security alerts and security measures have been or are being taken
by a number of governmental agencies, including the INS, the Federal Bureau
of Investigation, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Environmental Protection
Agency, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Transportation,
the Department of Energy, among the departments who have been notified of the
Governor Ridge has also discussed this heightened state of security with the
governors, who are asked to take appropriate precautions based upon security
assessments in their respective states.
MR. MUELLER: Thank you.
Good afternoon. On every occasion when the government has received credible
information, we have chosen to warn our colleagues in the law enforcement community,
and we are doing so again today because we have such information, even though
it is not specific as to intended target or as to intended method.
I should add that I have just come from addressing the International Association
of the Chiefs of Police, and I know how difficult it is for the officers they
represent and all other state and local officers out there to respond without
greater detail. Even given that, I believe it is advisable to alert law enforcement
and local authorities as to what knowledge we have received.
We are again asking them and, through them, local communities to remain extremely
vigilant. Doing so gives us a force multiplier that could well prevent another
terrorist attack. And we appreciate their willingness, however difficult, to
join in this national effort.
MR. MUELLER: Yes, ma'am?
QUESTION: Do you consider that the earlier threat advisory you put out, October
11th, helped to avert such an attack?
MR. MUELLER: It is very difficult to tell, but it may well have helped to avert
such an attack.
QUESTION: Mr. Director, can you give us a sense of whether this is electronic
information or from a human source?
MR. MUELLER: I cannot -- I cannot get into the source of the information, for
obvious, I think, reasons.
QUESTION: Director, what realistically should Americans do with this information?
You never rescinded the last one, and my assumption is that most Americans already
are on a heightened state of alert.
MR. MUELLER: I think that is -- that is true. However, when we have received
this additional information, specific as to time but not as specific -- not
specific as to other details, we think it is important to put it out there so
chiefs of police, other law enforcement entities can again refocus their efforts
on potential targets in their communities.
ATTY GEN. ASHCROFT: May I just make a comment there?
We have decided to share with the American people that we have alerted law enforcement.
And that's important. Because we are alerting law enforcement and conferring
with them, we think this gives people a basis for continuing to live their lives
the way they would otherwise live them, with this elevated sense of alertness
I trust the American people to be able to understand, in this context of conflict,
where there is a front overseas and there is another front here in the United
States, that they can make good judgments and can understand this kind of information.
And we are sharing it exactly in the context that the director has indicated.
It is not specific, but it is information that we think the American people
have a good, mature judgment and capacity to accommodate and to understand.
And it's with that in mind that we are speaking to them about a notice that
we are providing to law enforcement.
QUESTION: General, did you brief the president about the warning? And did he
agree with the release of this warning to the people?
ATTY GEN. ASHCROFT: The president is aware of this situation, was made aware
of the situation early in the day.
QUESTION: Do you have any concerns that if you issue these alerts and nothing
happens, people may not take them seriously, and next time --
ATTY GEN. ASHCROFT: No. If people take these warnings seriously, they go about
their lives, but they participate with patience in the additional steps that
are taken by law enforcement authorities, they are very likely participating
in the prevention of terrorism and in the disruption of terrorism.
There is no reason for a success on the part of the American people in forestalling
or otherwise delaying or interrupting terrorism, for that to lull them into
a false sense of indifference. It's important for the American people to understand
that these are to be taken seriously, but by taking them seriously on a continuing
basis, we can have the good outcome of avoiding very serious additional terrorist
QUESTION: Mr. Director, you said the other day that the earlier warning could
have been conceivably related to the anthrax attacks. Do you think that this
warning could in some way relate to anthrax intelligence?
MR. MUELLER: I would be speculating if that were -- on that issue. I have no
reason to believe at this point in time that it is related.
QUESTION: Do you have reason to believe that this is a more credible threat
than the last threat that you --
ATTY GEN. ASHCROFT: I think we clearly stated we believe this threat to be credible,
and for that reason it should be taken seriously.