US government to replace color-coded terror alert system

Friday, January 28, 2011

A key to the current color-coded warning system
US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano

United States Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said Thursday that the country's government would end its color-coded threat assessment system, called the Homeland Security Advisory System. The announcement came one day after rumors about such a move surfaced.

Napolitano, who made the announcement at George Washington University, said a new advisory system would be implemented in April. "When we have information about a specific, credible threat, we will issue a formal alert providing as much information as we can," she said. "The alerts will be specific to the threat. They may recommend certain actions or suggest looking for specific suspicious behavior. And they will have a specified end date."

The color-based system has been heavily criticized since its introduction after the 9/11 attacks. Napolitano said it often presented "little practical information" to the public. For most of its existence, the Homeland Security Advisory System has stayed at the yellow ("elevated") and orange ("high") levels. The new National Terrorism Advisory System will have only two threat levels: "imminent" and "elevated."

The current system will begin to be deprecated this week, but it has been under the scrutiny of the US Department of Homeland Security since 2009.