DHS Dropping Color Coded Terror Alerts
The end of a not-very-well-executed and much mocked* idea:
WASHINGTON — By the end of April, terror threats to the U.S. will no longer be described in shades of green, blue, yellow, orange and red, The Associated Press has learned.
The nation’s color-coded terror warning system will be phased out beginning this week, according to government officials familiar with the plan. The officials requested anonymity to speak ahead of an announcement scheduled Thursday by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
The Homeland Security Department and other government agencies have been reviewing the Homeland Security Advisory System’s usefulness for more than a year. One of the most notable changes to come: The public will no longer hear automated recordings at U.S. airports stating that the threat level is orange.
The Obama administration will take the next three months to roll out a replacement, which will be called the National Terrorism Advisory System. The new plan calls for notifying specific audiences about specific threats. In some cases, it might be a one-page threat description sent to law enforcement officials describing the threat, what law enforcement needs to do about it and what the federal government is doing, one of the officials said.
When agency officials think there is a threat the public should know about, they will issue an announcement and rely on news organizations and social media outlets to get the word out
Considering that the alert level has never been lower than “Elevated” (and in New York City it’s been on “High” the whole time), and that there haven’t been any changes made since 2006 despite additional attacks and threats of attacks since then, it’s pretty clear that this was never more than a public relations stunt. Good riddance.
My problem with the system is that it becomes background noise. There are five alert levels: Low, Guarded, Elevated, High, and Severe.
Since the inception of the system, we have always been in either Elevated or High status. Because the level is set by a bureaucracy, it will likely always be either Elevated or High. No bureaucrat is going to be willing to take the risk of lowering the level to merely Guarded or-Heaven forfend-Low because, if they do, and an attack happens, heads would roll. Likewise, we’re unlikely to see the level raised to Severe unless we’re literally in the midst of an attack and already know it. No one is going to be willing to call Red Alert and then not have an attack happen.
I stand by that analysis.