Installed shortly after the 9/11 terror attacks and perplexing Americans
ever since, the Department of Homeland Security's color-coded threat
system is to be discontinued in April. Its replacement? "DHS will
move to a system that focuses on specific threats in geographical areas.
It will be called the National Terror Advisory System," reports CNN
staff, noting that the Homeland Security Secretary
Napolitano will make the official announcement on Thursday in a speech. To
take the pulse of the early reaction to news--few will miss vague alerts like
- 'The End of a Not-Very-Well-Executed Idea' Outside the Beltway's Doug Mataconis
won't miss a system that never worked quite the way it should.
"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," he writes. "Good
- It Just Taught Americans to Be Scared, Not Prepared, says the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep.
Bennie Thompson, in a statement posted by The Hill.
"Each and every time the threat level was raised, very rarely did the
public know the reason, how to proceed, or for how long to be on
alert. ... I have raised concerns for years about the effectiveness of the
system and have cited the need for improvements and transparency," he
writes. "Many in Congress felt the system was being used as a political
scare tactic--raising and lowering the threat levels when it best
suited the Bush Administration."
- 'Maybe the Government Has
Finally Realized the Silliness,' wonders Wired's David Kravets,
"of the oft-spoofed five-color
threat-level advisory to which nobody paid attention?" He includes a humorous collection of spoof images in his article, and
notes the dubious value of the system: "Tom Ridge, the first Secretary
of the Department of Homeland Security, wrote in a 2009 book, The Test of Our Times,
that former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former Attorney
General John Ashcroft unsuccessfully lobbied him to raise the threat
level days before the 2004 elections, in a bid to seal President George
W. Bush's re-election."
- 'Color Me Vague,' writes Jon Bauer at The
Daily Herald. "I am an apprehensive yellow: The U.S. Homeland Security
Department is expected to announce today an end to its color-coded
terrorism warning system, which assigns one of five colors for various
threat levels. The system was long criticized as being too vague." A
quip: "The new system will attempt to be more specific by using all 64
colors in the box of crayons."
- R.I.P. 'Terror Alert Layered Quadrilateral Almost-Rainbow' writes Village Voice blogger, Jen Doll.
"Instead of letting yellow shine through the U.S. like a beacon of
light declaring our elevated threat level status, Homeland Security has
decided, after a year of review, that they're [ITAL] just going to tell
us about it," she observes. "Which is good, because yellow simply made
us think of SpongeBob, or a nice icy lemon granita, anyway."
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