The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


National Security

Task Force Will Reconsider Color-Coded Warning System

By Spencer S. Hsu
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano today named a bipartisan task force to consider changes to the nation's color-coded terror warning system.

The group, to be led by former White House homeland security adviser Frances Fragos Townsend and former CIA and FBI director William Webster, will assess how well the Homeland Security Advisory System informs the public, private sector and government about current threats and needed protective steps.

"My goal is simple: to have the most effective system in place to inform the American people about threats to our country," Napolitano said in a statement. Findings of the 60-day review will be shared with the National Security Council before being presented to the White House. Public comments can be sent by e-mail to

The threat rating -- now at orange, or "high risk," for the aviation industry, and yellow, or "elevated risk," for the rest of the country -- has been criticized inside and outside the government as vague since its creation, after the 2001 terror attacks. Authorities have backed away from making public changes since 2007, but the five-level system drives some federal grant programs.

Posted at 2:27 PM ET on Jul 14, 2009  | Category:  National Security
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I don't know why you are teeing off on Fox News. Obama and Napolitano are the ones behind this useless task force.

Posted by: danielhancock | July 15, 2009 5:49 PM

The color-coded system is completely useless. It should be scrapped without even convening a task force. It's not change for change's sake, it's just common sense. To say that there is a threat in the United States is ludicrous. It's a huge country. The color code system was a ploy to make the hysterical right-wing nuts who watch Fox News vote Republican.

Posted by: avogt202 | July 15, 2009 5:20 PM

Last line should read: Change for change's sake is not change at all.

Posted by: danielhancock | July 15, 2009 10:51 AM

First of all, a terrorist threat is hard to predict so it is easy to make fun of warnings when they are wrong as they will be most of the time. For example: very few tornado watches predict actual tornadoes and that is easy compared to predicting a terrorist attack.

Everyone is having a lot of fun ridiculing the color coded warning system and some say that it is a waste of time. Maybe so, but then why is the President going to have a task force to come up with a replacement?

What is the task force going to accomplish? Are they going to replace the color codes with a letter code. Example threat level A, B,and C. The problem is not with the coding system itself but with the information that goes into determining what code to use. A task force cannot solve that problem so it will be just as much of a waste of time as many believe the color codes are.

If the color code warnings are as ridiculous as many believe then they should just be discontinued instead of having a task force come up with something that is not going to be any better. Change just for change's is not change at all.

Posted by: danielhancock | July 15, 2009 10:50 AM

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