The Department of Homeland Security has announced that it will change the Threat Warning Codes by April 2011 . The color-coded system, in effect since the creation of the DHS in 2002 has been criticized before as being too vague, or even causing fear.
Rep. Bennie Thompson said, “The old color coded system taught Americans to be scared, not prepared. 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.”
While I doubt too many people had a special affinity for the color-coded system, but did it really scare people any more or less than just telling them: “There’s a real good chance something big is going to get blown up.”
Further, DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff also expressed concern that the old system became "part of the background noise" because it was being lowered and raised all the time.
Well, it’s going to be background noise no matter what you call them. People tune these things out. You have to in order go about your daily life.
All that being said, let’s take a stab at predicting the new “Threat Codes” that will aim to be more descriptive and “preparatory.”
Old Code: Green (Low Risk of Terrorist Attack) ; New Code: [hysterical laughing] [more uncontrolled laughter] [catching breath, still chuckling] “Oh, you actually think we have something that correlates to Green? [more laughing] Low risk of a terrorist attack! That’s precious.”
Old Code: Blue (Guarded: General Risk of Terrorist Attacks) ; New Code: “We haven’t heard anything, but those terrorists are sneaky, so, you know. Keep an eye out.
Old Code: Yellow (Elevated: Significant Risk of Terrorist Attacks) ; New Code: “Remember back when we said we hadn’t heard anything? You do? Crap. Well, we ‘found’ this new report. If you live in a city, look out.
Old Code: Orange (High Risk of Terrorist Attacks) ; New Code: “If you have a Costco or Sam’s Club card and a car….you might wanna get on that. You may also want to swing by the hardware store on the way back. See if they have any duct tape and two-by-fours left.”
Old Code: Red (Severe Risk of Terrorist Attacks) ; New Code: Threat. Level. Midnight . If there’s a hole nearby. Get in it.