Best of OTB – May 23, 2003

As part of a continuing series, I’ll be publishing excerpts and re-posts of material buried deep in the OTB archives. Some will be profound and some silly; some will demonstrate keen insights and others painful errors.

    Shockingly, we are now back to ORANGE. Question: Am I going to change how I conduct my life one scintilla of an iota? I mean, aside from hiding under my desk covered in plastic wrap while holding a roll of duct tape? (Or was that Level Yellow? I can never keep that straight.)

    Update: I have now familiarized myself with the DHS Scaredy Cat Decoder and have not slaked my thirst for insight.

    For one thing, they haven’t gotten around to updating their web site:

    Following a review of intelligence and an assessment of threats by the intelligence community, the Department of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Homeland Security Council, has made the decision to lower the threat advisory level to an elevated risk of terrorist attack, or “yellow level.”

    Maybe they don’t update except when it’s Level RED? Or, perhaps, they stop updating after it gets to YELLOW because they’re too busy protecting us.

    Also, they inform me that:

    The world has changed since September 11, 2001. We remain a nation at risk to terrorist attacks and will remain at risk for the foreseeable future.

    Actually, I don’t think the world has changed a lick since 9/11, but certainly our perception of it has.

    Regardless, a useful insight follows:

    At all Threat Conditions, we must remain vigilant, prepared, and ready to deter terrorist attacks. The following Threat Conditions each represent an increasing risk of terrorist attacks. Beneath each Threat Condition are some suggested Protective Measures, recognizing that the heads of Federal departments and agencies are responsible for developing and implementing appropriate agency-specific Protective Measures. . .

    So, I’m supposed to be not only vigilant, but also prepared and ready. I need to acquaint myself with the nuances in those terms, as they all mean the same thing to me.

    At any rate, if you look at the detailed list, you’ll see that we as citizens actually don’t have anything to do based on changing rainbow colors. It’s just the various government agencies that have to vary their levels of vigilance, preparation, and readiness.

LEVEL ORANGE – May 22, 2003

FILED UNDER: Best of OTB, Humor, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Michael says:

    And from the Department of Hopeless Security:
    Days the color-coded federal terror alert system has been in place: 1,888
    Days spent at terror alert level Blue or Green: 0

    As James has pointed out numerous times, there is no reason why DHS would ever lower the alert level below Yellow, so why do we even have a Blue or Green?