What Color Is It Today?
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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