Homeland Security Department Considers Revising Confusing Terror Alert System


The Homeland Security Department has announced that it will review the multicolored terror alert system that was created after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano has recently created a 17-member task force chaired by former FBI Director William Webster and former White House homeland Security Fran Townsend that has 60 days to determine the effectiveness of the current system, which could be overhauled or eliminated entirely.

The current Homeland Security alert system is a five-tiered one that goes from the color green, which signals a low danger of attack, to red, which warns of a severe threat. The system has proven to be confusing at times, and many critics believe the colors are used too vaguely for the information they signal to be seen as useful.

Several of the critics have been members of the U.S. Congress. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., has stated that he supports a review and supported legislation in the past improving the system and adding greater specificity to its warnings, measures members of Congress believe have not been met.

“Rather than rely solely on a color-coded designation, we wanted to make more information available to citizens, first responders and the private sector, so that appropriate steps could be taken by local officials and the general public,” said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, explaining Congress’ reasoning behind the requirements added in 2007.

The color-coded system was established by President George W. Bush in March of 2002 as a way to keep law enforcement agencies permanently informed of the government’s knowledge of any terrorist attacks facing the U.S. It consists of five colors designating increasing levels of risk of terrorist attacks: green, blue (guarded), yellow (elevated), orange (high) and red. The system has consistently been under fire from the outset, especially from Democrats suggesting that the Bush administration was manipulating alert codes to swing people’s attention towards national security. (via Associated Press)

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