Barely a year has passed since A.T.I.N. advised Janet Napolitano to scrap the silly color-coded alert system, and now published reports say the Homeland Security Secretary will do exactly that in a speech tomorrow.
There have been complaints about about the five-tiered system since its adoption. In its eight years, the alerts fluctuated between yellow for “elevated” and orange for “high,” reaching red for “severe” once, on Aug. 10, 2006. In that case, the alert was applied to flights coming from the U.K. after discovery of a “well-advanced plan” suggesting that al-Qaeda was plotting to use liquid explosives and detonators disguised as electronic devices to blow up jetliners in midair.
The threat level was lowered to orange three days later and has remained there. The green or blue symbols, representing the lowest threat levels, have never been used.
“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,” Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, ranking Democrat on the House homeland security panel, said in a statement.
After the color-coding was introduced, all the cable networks had the color of the day embedded in their chyrons at the bottom of the screen. I think that lasted about two weeks. The rainbow-inspired alert hierarchy will apparently be replaced by a monochromatic system of more specific alerts aimed at particular audiences, such as law-enforcement officials or airline travelers.
Disclaimer: Janet did not actually consult with me on this one, and may not be making this change directly in response to my recommendation.