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.