DHS Ends Colour Coded Threat Advisory : Who Will Tell Me When To Panic?

Following the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 3 created the Homeland Security Advisory System on the 11th of March 2002.   The Homeland Security Advisory System is a familiar sight to many travelers, it is the colour coded threat level advisory chart posted in many airports and train stations that is ignored by nearly all travelers.

The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS)  Homeland Security Advisory System, made up of five colour levels, will be phased out on the 27th of April 2011 and replaced with the National Terrorism Advisory System, which is in the process of being phased in now.

For years the Homeland Security Advisory System alerted people in the Unite States to the current risk of a terrorist attack with the following colour coding:

Green – Low : Low Risk Of Terrorist Attack

Blue – Guarded : General Risk Of Terrorist Attack

Yellow – Elevated : Significant Risk Of Terrorist Attack

Orange – High : High Risk Of Terrorist Attack

Red: Severe : Severe Risk Of Terrorist Attack

The reason the Homeland Security Advisory System and its colour coded system is being phased out … aside from the fact that it was widely ineffective and used for political reasons rather than security reasons … is the 19 member Homeland Security Advisory Council concluded ““There is currently indifference to the public Homeland Security Advisory System and, at worst, there is a disturbing lack of public confidence in the system” and [the] system’s ability to communicate useful information in a credible manner to the public is poor

The threat level for United States has remained unchanged for years, with the threat level reaming at Yellow and the threat level for airline travel reaming at Orange for years following a wild swing of threat levels between Yellow, Orange and Red, in August 2006.

Through out these threat level changes, the important message of travelers was the same “There will not be any operational changes for domestic flights in the United States.” Since the message for travelers has remained unchanged, as the air travel threat level has remained at orange, there was no need for traveler to pay attention to the threat advisory.

So what has the Homeland Security Advisory System done for Americans? It first told us when to panic … then it simply became something we ignored in the airports and train stations around the United States.

Hopefully the new National Terrorism Advisory System that becomes the standard at the end of April will provide actual relevant information and assist people in being prepared for actual threats … because a system telling us to constantly be in a state of panic is pointless.

Below is a photo of “Orange Alert” Threat Advisory taped to the outside of Dallas’ Love Field.

Happy Flying!



  1. I think people paid attention to it right after 9-11 and maybe into 2003. But we are indifferent to it when they haven’t changed the sign from Orange to any other color in the last…….7 years? I barely notice the signs in the airports anymore.

    I guess now people will have to think & decide for themselves if something is a threat- Great….Snooki will cause a lock-down because someone tried to steal her hairspray in the parking lot.

  2. Did anyone really ever expect to see green? I never even expected to see blue. Just another example of “show them something and they will think we are doing something.” Security theater.

    To answer your question, the weatherman has been doing a wonderful job of telling people when to panic this winter…..

  3. It could have been Blue! All they needed to do was win The Battle Against Everyone In The World!

    … It could never have been Green because the sun could throw an X5 solar flare at us. And everyone knows that the sun is the number one terrorist of them ALL.

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