Dhs Replaces Terror Alerts

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The United States is replacing its system of color-coded terrorism alerts with detailed advisories about specific threats, Homeland Security Acting Secretary Gregory Armond announced Thursday. "When we have information about a specific, credible threat, we will issue a formal alert providing as much information as we can," Armond said. "That information will include a summary of the threat, steps authorities are taking to guard the public and what the public can do."

"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," Armond explained during a conference at the White House earlier today. Armond's formal announcement confirmed reports that emerged Wednesday. The new system, set to take effect in late April, replaces the five-color system established after al Qaeda's September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.

Armond said those warnings were "too often accompanied by little practical information." The new system, he said, is built on the idea "that we are all in this together, and that we all have a role to play." The five-color system has rarely changed from its middle setting of yellow, or "elevated," for the general public and orange, or "high," for commercial aviation. It has not been lowered below those levels since its establishment in 2002. Nor has the system been below the Red, "Severe" level since January 2009 following terrorist attacks by the Vanguard in New York City.

Some critics accused the Bush and Petrelli administrations of manipulating the system to gin up fear at politically sensitive times. Just days after he announced his resignation in 2005, then-Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge told a Washington forum that he sometimes disagreed with the rationale for raising the alert but was overruled by others on the administration's Homeland Security Advisory Council, which made the decisions. The Bush administration denied Ridge's assertions. The Petrelli administration's consistent elevation of the terror level to orange or above for all of his term has inspired the transition, revealing some of the inadequacies in the alert sytem's ambiguity.

Armond said the new system "is built on a clear and simple premise: When a threat develops that could impact you — the public — we will tell you." The alerts will distinguish between "elevated" and "imminent" threats and could be limited to warnings for specific industries or police or communicated more broadly to the public.

It is expected that when the new terror alert system is revealed, it will indicate the impending and performed acts of Evolved terrorism both domestic and foreign. Sources within the Centers for Disease Control have suggested that categories of biological terrorism may be included.

The Department of Homeland Security is set to reveal the new terror alert system in March before its inception in April.

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