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What Color Is It Today?

by TChris

We haven't heard much lately about the government's color-coded terror threat warning system. Some suspect that the terror threat level was elevated whenever it served the administration's purpose to elevate the public's fear level. Now that the president has been reelected, the fear-inducing system has served its apparent purpose and should be retired.

No one, of course, knows what to do when the level is increased. Or when it is returned to yellow, the mid-point on the five-tiered scale. Perhaps they are supposed to go back to simply being afraid.

The color codes, introduced in March 2002, have done nothing to improve anyone's homeland security. They've caused confusion. And alert-fatigue. And cost untold dollars.

Tom Ridge defended the system yesterday, complaining that people focus too much on the colors. "It could be numbers, it could be animals," Ridge said. Whether the threat level is indicated by a color or a giraffe isn't the issue. The ineffectiveness of a system that doesn't tell people what or where the threat is or what to do about it won't be cured by replacing colors with a different symbol.

Michael Chertoff says he's looking for a better warning system. He should start by scrapping the existing one.

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  • Re: What Color Is It Today? (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:58:58 PM EST
    I hear we went to "red" for a while today when a cessna strayed into restricted airspace near the White House.

    Re: What Color Is It Today? (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:58:58 PM EST
    Homeland Security has a one-page action plan in PDF format. But it isn’t a panacea. Perhaps it’s best suggestion, is simply to take a CPR course. Personally, my “fear level” isn’t affected by the warning system and I don’t think I know anyone who is affected by it. Here in the Midwest, we have a weather forecast known as a “tornado watch.” It doesn’t mean that a tornado has formed or is forming, it simply means that weather conditions are such that a tornado could form. Based on the recommended actions of each advisory, I equate the severe (red) threat advisory with a tornado watch. Believe me, no one around here gets afraid, when the weather bureau issues a tornado watch. Sure, I would love for the government to tell me that I should avoid building x on such-and-such a day, because terrorists are planning to blow it up. But, I’m not willing to sacrifice the level of freedom that would require. Besides, then the government wouldn’t need to issue “advisories”, they would just order us to stay home. TChris, I would be interested in knowing why you feel you can not just ignore the advisories, since your recommendation of eliminating the system seems to have the same effect, but also imposes your desires on the rest of us.

    Re: What Color Is It Today? (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:58:58 PM EST
    You'll never see another "elevated alert," trust Blaghdaddy- the election's over and it's Dubya's 2nd term. Now, if the public ever woke up, changed the House and Senate in '06, and threw Incurious George his well-deserved "Impeachment Gala," we might have alert break the ceiling as the impeachment debate got under way...wag the whole f#*king kennel...

    Re: What Color Is It Today? (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:58:58 PM EST
    black, just like it is everyday since the bum took office.

    Re: What Color Is It Today? (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:58:58 PM EST
    Soldier, Re: why T-Chris "can't ignore" the advisories has, in my opinion reasons contained in your statement
    Personally, my “fear level” isn’t affected by the warning system and I don’t think I know anyone who is affected by it
    In fact, as I recall (link, anyone??) Bush's approval ratings went up everytime the "threat level" went up. Additionally, if one charted (probably someone has, already) the number of alerts and our perceived danger level before and after the elections the numbers would look inversely more like before and after 9/11.

    Re: What Color Is It Today? (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:58:58 PM EST
    In fact, as I recall (link, anyone??) Bush's approval ratings went up everytime the "threat level" went up.
    And you would be correct, as shown here. Pavlov would be so proud. Ironically, Ridge now comments that the color level was raised on several occasions, over his objection. After all, he was only the Director of Homeland Security....

    Re: What Color Is It Today? (none / 0) (#7)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:58:59 PM EST
    Adept, The chart does no such thing. It mixes real advisories, warnings and miscellaneous data. Check out the June 10, 2002 and the June 15, 2004 events in the charts source. As for the color-coded warning system (which is what this thread is about) the chart has six “orange events,” one of which is at the end of the chart and should be ignored. Of the other five, Bush’s approval ratings clearly went up once, clearly went down once, continued going up twice and continued going down once. About as mixed a set of results as you can get. If Pavlov had had similar results, the people of today would never have heard of him.

    Re: What Color Is It Today? (none / 0) (#8)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:58:59 PM EST
    mfox, I agree that there is a political component to the warning advisories. That is unfortunate. But, this is the government. There is always a political component. Still, if the system had been used while Bill Clinton was President, I would probably feel the same way you do now, so I see your point. When Hillary gets elected, maybe you’ll see mine.