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DHS Ponders "Improving" Terrorism Alert System

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the stock-up-on-duct-tape dept.

Government 320

An anonymous reader writes "The DHS's color-coded terrorism risk warning system has often been criticized on a number of grounds. However, it seems that at last DHS has taken note of these criticisms and is finally planning to fix one of its problems. Which one? Well, since the two lowest levels have never been used in the history of the program, the solution is obvious: just get rid of them! In the new system, the lowest level would be yellow, 'guarded,' representing 'A constant state of vigilance to protect against a terrorist attack.' While it's nice that they're at least no longer maintaining a pretense of it being for anything other than fear-mongering, I don't think this was the kind of change most people were hoping for."

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320 comments

Orange Alert! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29467131)

It worked for the Prisoner. Why scrap it?

Re:Orange Alert! (2, Funny)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467311)

We'll move from "Orange" to "Grape" then "Tutti-Fruity"

Re:Orange Alert! (2, Funny)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467791)

I'll be really scared when we hit plaid...

Re:Orange Alert! (5, Funny)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467559)


Obligatory Red Dwarf:
Rimmer: Kryten, take us to Blue Alert. Kryten: Are you sure, sir? It does mean changing the bulb.

Re:Orange Alert! (2, Insightful)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467651)

LOL.

And the continuous state of alert just causes degradation and ignorance.

People would just ignore it like they do with some warning lights in the car. "You don't have the seat belt on" is just ignored since they already know it, and know it's illegal in most states to not have the seat belt on but they don't give a crap.

So an "Elevated" state of alert is in reality "Normal" to "Ignorable". A "Critical" state of alert will be considered "Elevated" and when it's critical all traffic will have a standstill anyway.

OMG The Price Of Freedom! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29467137)

'A constant state of vigilance to protect against a terrorist attack.'

But this should make all the Young Libertarians on Slashdot delirious with delight. Isn't the price of freedom supposed to be eternal vigilance?

Re:OMG The Price Of Freedom! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29467255)

Except that spending all your work hours looking out through your office window for signs of a terrorist attack doesn't make the country very productive.

Re:OMG The Price Of Freedom! (5, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467355)

But this should make all the Young Libertarians on Slashdot delirious with delight. Isn't the price of freedom supposed to be eternal vigilance?

Yes. Vigilance against the Government. I'm far more worried about Washington and Albany than I am about a handful of naked savages residing in caves who managed to pull off a single mass casualty attack only through luck and our own incompetence.

Re:OMG The Price Of Freedom! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29467431)

than I am about a handful of naked savages residing in caves

Racist.

Re:OMG The Price Of Freedom! (5, Insightful)

fwr (69372) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467563)

How is that racist? As far as I know, people of all races have joined the lunatics who launched the attacks. There's even a "white" american or two who have joined, are gained some prominence for doing so. I think everyone is getting a little tired of the old racist claim.

Re:OMG The Price Of Freedom! (1)

Tuoqui (1091447) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467973)

Yes. Vigilance against the Government. I'm far more worried about Washington and Albany than I am about a handful of naked savages residing in caves who managed to pull off a single mass casualty attack only through luck and our own incompetence.

And our own incompetence isnt going down anytime soon either. As Albert Einstein said... There are only two things that are infinite, the universe and human stupidity and I'm not sure about the universe.

Re:OMG The Price Of Freedom! (0, Troll)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467603)

The price of freedom will be mainly paid by people who make snarky and unpatriotic comments about vigilance.

Re:OMG The Price Of Freedom! (3, Informative)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467911)

Somehow, I miss the "young libertarian" reference, or slur, or whatever. Libertarians didn't lead this nation into war, that was the doing of NEOCONSERVATIVES. Neocons are seperate and distinct from the more common conservatives, many of whom have been duped into following the neocons.

Whatever - the price of freedom is indeed eternal vigilance. But, vigilance != paranoia Paranoia is a trait of those aforementioned neoconservatives.

KTHXBAI

Fear-mongering? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29467145)

It would be "fear-mongering" if there were NO possiblity of a terrorist attack.

That does NOT mean DHS is less fucked up than a football bat.

Re:Fear-mongering? (2, Funny)

Spazztastic (814296) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467283)

That does NOT mean DHS is less fucked up than a football bat.

I don't follow. You don't need a bat for footb-- OHH!

Re:Fear-mongering? (1)

caerwyn (38056) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467539)

That's definitely not true. There are quite a number of nonzero-but-low possibility scenarios that one could legitimately be considered "fear-mongering" over. (Asteroid impacts, etc) Fear-mongering doesn't mean that there's no chance of something happens, it just implies that the rhetoric is out of proportion to the risk.

Re:Fear-mongering? (3, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467763)

Agreed -- mostly. You're right in that just because something is possible doesn't mean it's likely.

OTOH, there are a number of likely scenarios and we are certainly no better off security-wise than we were before 9/11. Sticking a bunch of rent-a-cops in front of possible terrorist targets and airport terminals and giving them metal detectors and bomb sniffers will stop only the casual terrorist who hasn't thought things through.

From what we know now, the 9/11 terrorist attacks took years of planning. Do you really think that terrorists who are willing to wait in the wings for years, plotting and scheming the whole time aren't already systematically testing this 'new' security for weaknesses?

Don't be stupid and above all, do not trust the DHS when they tell you that we are more secure. Because we are certainly not.

Re:Fear-mongering? (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467851)

It would be "fear-mongering" if there were NO possiblity of a terrorist attack.

Since there are lots of things much more likely to kill you and destroy your property, ya it's fear mongering, as in "selling fear". The public really can't use the color of the Terrorist Alert Status to protect themselves, their families, their neighbors, or their property from harm. All one can do is worry more. Who can add an hour to their life by worrying more? Checking your smoke detector batteries is more likely to save your life than knowing the current color code.

*sigh* (2, Insightful)

TrebleJunkie (208060) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467155)

Let's just declare martial law and get it over with.

Re:*sigh* (1)

pzs (857406) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467313)

The problem with doing that is that such a sudden change will make their motives clear. They have to use this frog-boiling approach - essentially a very gradual declaration of martial law - so that nobody will notice a sudden change and complain.

Pedants: Yes, I know the frog boiling thing is a myth [wikipedia.org] .

Re:*sigh* (2, Insightful)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467629)

es, I know the frog boiling thing is a myth

Professors are a funny lot. In all of those debunking claims, nobody actually... you know... tried to boil a frog. Instead, they theorize about it and proclaim their stances quite loudly...

Re:*sigh* (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467347)

Yeah... and institute mandatory daily Two-Minute Hate sessions while we are on it.

Re:*sigh* (2, Interesting)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467513)

Thought we already had that:

for a while we had 15 minutes of hate against insurance execs
then we had our 15 minutes of hate against auto execs
then we had our 15 minutes of hate against bankers
then we had our 15 minutes of hate against tea baggers
now were going back to having 15 minutes of hate against racists (isn't that hate for haters?)

Re:*sigh* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29467701)

On the other hand, we have daily hate against death panels, socialized health, and against an unamerican negro muslim on the white house

Your point is?

Re:*sigh* (1)

techwrench (586424) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467565)

And Witch...err, Terrorist Hunts! At 5 p.m.!

Re:*sigh* (3, Informative)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467593)

Yeah... and institute mandatory daily Two-Minute Hate sessions while we are on it.

Fox News is already on 24/7.

Re:*sigh* (4, Informative)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467775)

Yeah... and institute mandatory daily Two-Minute Hate sessions while we are on it.

Fox News is already on 24/7.

Keith Olbermann is doing his two minute hate sessions [wikipedia.org] on Fox? When did this happen?

Re:*sigh* (2, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467421)

Let's just declare martial law and get it over with.

Why do you assume they are acting with nefarious intent when a much simpler explanation is good old fashioned Governmental incompetence?

Re:*sigh* (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29467583)

Because incompetence would strike randomly, while governments mistakes always hit the common citizen rather than the ruling elite.

Re:*sigh* (4, Insightful)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467841)

Why do you assume they are acting with nefarious intent when a much simpler explanation is good old fashioned Governmental incompetence?

Because the parties responsible benefit from the behaviour, which suggests intent. The USA's military budget is a wonder of the Modern World. Politicians get away with deleting public records in the name of security, those that want to go on military adventures for the benefit of private companies they are associated with get to do so. Laws that make it harder to protest against unpopular actions get passed ("Free Speech Zones" - wtf?) resulting in greater freedom for those in power to act without visible criticism. Surveillance, warranted and unwarranted (literally) is passed with little criticism. And all on the ticket of fear.

So you tell me, if factions of people have the smarts to gain control of one of the biggest nations on Earth, institute policies that benefit them in myriad ways to your own detriment, why on Earth would you call them incompetent? Cost overruns on various government projects? Ask yourself where the overspend is going. It doesn't just vanish - it goes into someone's pocket.

Re:*sigh* (5, Insightful)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467893)

Isn't it funny how an entire office goes crazy with word about *possible* layoffs coming, but somehow "Someone" (which always seems to be the other major political party than the person telling you) has this hugely elaborate plan, involving ridiculous amounts of logistics and pre-planning, involving thousands of people.. And nothing is leaked? I mean really, Not a single whistleblower in the government? I mean hell, an executive can't even buy a Corporate Jet, or $30,000 wastebasket and keep it from the media.. but "they" are building mass concentration camps, and planning an elaborate means at turning this country into a puppet controlled by the Illuminatti. Or that they reaaaalllly want to force everyone to depend on the government for health care so that <insert silly reason here>.... Yeah. that makes much more sense then just stupid committee decisions by government employees, who are constantly having to cover their ass..

They don't drop the terrorism alert level, because IF they dropped it to its lowest, THEN an attack happened, they would be dragged in front of congress, and be forced to testify about why they are so stupid, then be fired..

Opposite? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29467601)

Let's just get rid of authoritarian government [metagovernment.org] and get it over with.

They won (1)

Naatach (574111) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467157)

If we let down our guard then the terrorists win.

Re:They won (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29467541)

No... fairly sure that's not how it works.

New Alert System (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29467159)

Green - Dangerous minorities in the area. Lock the doors.
Yellow - asians are messing with our computers again. Use Linux.
Orange - Mexican drug gang wars are spilling over in to the United States. Wear Kevlar.
Red - Socialist President. Abandon the country.

These terror alert levels write themselves.

Re:New Alert System (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29467249)

Red - Socialist President. Abandon the country.

No: Red Socialist President. Go to a town hall, scream a lot, wave your automatic weapons in the air, and scream, YOU LIE!!!!!!!!

Re:New Alert System (0, Flamebait)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467497)

Go to a town hall, exercise your 1st amendment right of free speech. Stand outside the town hall and exercise your 2nd amendment right to keep and bear arms. Sit in Congress and exercise your 1st amendment right to be a jackass.

Fixed that for you. Sorry if you find the political opposition speaking out to be inconvenient for you.

Re:New Alert System (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29467557)

No one has a Constitutional right, 2nd Amendment or otherwise, to threaten someone else.

Also, Sen. Wilson was lying himself. Yes, he has a Constitutional right to do that, but that doesn't make it a good thing.

Re:New Alert System (1, Informative)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467645)

No one has a Constitutional right, 2nd Amendment or otherwise, to threaten someone else.

Carrying a gun != threatening someone else. A holstered/slung firearm represents no threat to anyone except hoplophobes that pass out at the mere sight of weaponry. If you have evidence that someone threatened another human being at a town hall meeting then I suggest you call the authorities and report it.

Re:New Alert System (1, Insightful)

amplt1337 (707922) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467947)

A holstered/slung firearm represents no threat to anyone except hoplophobes that pass out at the mere sight of weaponry.

A holstered/slung firearm that represents no threat to anyone is a piece of jewelry.
The only way a weapon (of any kind) represents no threat is if there is a certainty that it will never be used. There's no reason to carry a weapon that won't be used, but if it might be used, then its very purpose is to be a threat that others take seriously. Possibly a legitimate threat (a deterrent against attacks to your person, perhaps), but a threat nonetheless.
(Even if you guarantee you will never use your weapon, it represents a threat to yourself, because it encourages everyone around you to treat you as more dangerous than you are and respond to you more aggressively than otherwise).

Re:New Alert System (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467755)

Also, Sen. Wilson was lying himself.

That depends on who you ask. I suggest not asking a liberal democrat that already wants to prove him wrong. Also, it's not Senator... he's in the House of Representatives...

Re:New Alert System (1)

techwrench (586424) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467597)

Political opposition speaking out is not so much an issue, as the proper time to do it.

During a speech with both Houses is not the proper time.

Re:New Alert System (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467719)

That's why I said he's a jackass. But I'm rather sick of hearing Democrats and their supporters condemning the people who show up at Town Hall meetings. I didn't hear any of this condemnation from them when left-wing groups exercised their 1st amendment rights while Bush was in office.

Re:New Alert System (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29467881)

Sorry if you find the political opposition speaking out to be inconvenient for you.

Sorry if you're naive enough to think that this is genuine grassroots political opposition. Follow the money. Look at who is actually organizing these things. Health insurance companies pressure employees to attend. Former congressmen Dick Armey's lobbying group is also active in this area. You're not being cynical enough.

And also sorry to hear that to you, "speaking out" seems to mean "shouting loud enough so no one else can be heard".

Re:New Alert System (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467553)

"A symbolic clock is as nourishing to the intellect as a photo of oxygen to drowning man"

-Dr. Manhattan

Which colours? (2, Funny)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467161)

"Purple alert! Purple alert!"
"What's a purple alert?"
"Well, it's like not as bad as a red alert, but a bit worse than a blue alert -- sort of a mauve alert."

            - Lister and Holly

Re:Which colours? (3, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467273)

Brock: Magenta? Your battle mode is magenta?
The Monarch: Eat a dick.

Re:Which colours? (2, Funny)

ledow (319597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467349)

A better Dwarf quote is:

"Go to Red Alert!"
"Are you absolutely sure, sir? It does mean changing the bulb."

it kinda works though, just not how they intended. (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467169)

Yeah, yellow is pretty much the constant. So, people are typically going "okay, it's a normal day, carry on then". If it's orange (I've flown once during orange) then there's a bit of tension in the air. Makes for a more unpleasant airport experience, but it also tends to make people more aware of their surroundings.

So sure, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. You SHOULD always be aware of what's around you and remain alert. It's not rocket science.

Re:it kinda works though, just not how they intend (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467461)

When was your flight? I don't think anyone even pays attention to this anymore, do they?

I think they should rename yellow to "lets face it, the world never WAS safe, and never will be. Learn to accept it."

Re:it kinda works though, just not how they intend (4, Interesting)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467463)

If it's orange (I've flown once during orange) then there's a bit of tension in the air. Makes for a more unpleasant airport experience, but it also tends to make people more aware of their surroundings.

I've never flown in not-orange ever since they came up with the system. I'm not some business traveler, but I fly between three and six times a year round-trip to various places around the country, and I always hear the same recording of some guy saying "The current threat level is orange". And I don't think anyone has so much as batted an eye. From San Francisco to Denver to freaking JFK Intl., I've never seen people act more alert and suspicious after that announcement.

Like this B.S. threat level is so well correlated with actual terrorist plotting that, if you're worried about terrorists, it's safe to lower your guard during a "yellow" threat level. Please! People are going to react the same way to "suspicious" things they see in an airport, and they're going to pay just as much attention either way. Nobody cares about the threat level, for one because it never changes, for two because it doesn't make any sense to do anything different -- if you're paranoid about terrorists and care to be alert on the 1-in-a-billion chance you personally spot terrorist activity, you will be just as much so during "yellow" as "orange". And if you're like me, and not worried much at all about terrorists, you're going to keep a vague eye out but you're still not going to give a shit how scared TSA says you should be.

The Terror Alert is useless bullshit.

Re:it kinda works though, just not how they intend (2, Insightful)

inviolet (797804) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467561)

I've never flown in not-orange ever since they came up with the system. I'm not some business traveler, but I fly between three and six times a year round-trip to various places around the country, and I always hear the same recording of some guy saying "The current threat level is orange". And I don't think anyone has so much as batted an eye. From San Francisco to Denver to freaking JFK Intl., I've never seen people act more alert and suspicious after that announcement.

Yep yep. I interpret the terror alert color to only indicate one thing: how long the line will be at the security checkpoint. And it's for purely psychological reasons: higher danger levels make us desire a greater inconvenience in order to feel safe.

To wit: if the color was green, nobody would care if they just whisked everybody through without searching purses, confiscating water bottles, and making us take off our shoes.

Re:it kinda works though, just not how they intend (1)

SnapShot (171582) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467829)

Maybe the only proper way to run these alert levels is to take a clue from the efficiency experts. This is from memory since I can't find a good link but the story is something like this:
a. A factory wanted to determine the effect of lighting on productivity
b. They increased lighting and productivity increased. Yay!
c. Just to be sure, though, they decreased the lighting level and were surprised when productivity increased. Qua?
d. Conclusion sometime people change their behavior just because something changed.

If actually know there's a potential threat raise the threat level and announce "The threat level was raised to orange". If the threat continues then lower the threat level for a day or so and then raise it again. Etc. etc. Once the threat has passed revert to a baseline threat level and leave it there.

Re:it kinda works though, just not how they intend (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467831)

It's not useless. It's simply a symbol of control, and a way to keep people cowed. They haven't taken it to red, they're reserving that for when they need a shot of mindless patriotism to get something illegal taken care of, so they can claim it was done to "prevent terrorism".

I thought that ... (1)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467171)

... Obama would just get rid of the alert system entirely. It was developed by GW Bush, and therefore is just fundamentally wrong. It just creates panic anyways ... it servers no real purpose ... nobody is going to hide in their bunkers or join a local militia if we go to the highest terrorist alert level, are they?

Re:I thought that ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29467211)

If Obama provides money to build a bunker, I will. I need the extra storage space.

Re:I thought that ... (1)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467245)

true ... i guess that's where i'd keep my disaster recovery servers ... there gotta me some money in the stimulus bill for that, right? :-)

Re:I thought that ... (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467837)

Obama has no money. All he can do is take out a loan from China and give it to you. Do we really want that?

This System is mostly worthless (4, Insightful)

LitelySalted (1348425) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467173)

This system provides no real benefit to the American populace other than to instill fear.

I don't stop what I'm doing because for some reason or another, the day has been ranked a "red" terrorist day.

Really, all it does (besides instilling fear) is give news sources something to talk about briefly.

Re:This System is mostly worthless (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29467589)

Yes, because your sample size of 1 should be the basis of all goverment decisions.

The fact is, there are quite a few people that these levels truly affect (mostly security - people who I'd prefer to be informed of this). It was not "simply fear-mongering", and I suspect you know that but won't admit it. Besides, I agree with the argument that terrorism is everybody's problem, and we all should chip in to help. If it means being more aware of your surroundings every once in a while then that's a pretty small inconvenience.

Re:This System is mostly worthless (2, Insightful)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467849)

If it were "every once in a while", I'd agree. The problem is that the terrorist threat is overstated and overrated in the first place, and is only a mechanism to exert more control by the government over the population. Terrorists have killed fewer people in the US over the last 10 years than auto accidents have in one. Yet where does the money go?

Re:This System is mostly worthless (1)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467633)

Don't you mean "give news sources something to talk about ad nauseum".

Re:This System is mostly worthless (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467705)

Well the left has global warming and economic depression to use as an excuse for bigger and worse government, it's only fair the right has terrorism.

Re:This System is mostly worthless (1, Troll)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467753)

My parents did the same with me. Always making sure i was home before dark, that i didn't reach for boiling pots of water on the stove, trading my lunch money for toys, telling me to not get in cars with strangers. i was far more likely to be hurt playing tag than to be kidnapped if i got in a car with a stranger. What the hell did my parents know? It wasn't any of their business anyway where i was or who was holding me for ransom. Fascist fear mongering assholes.

And don't get me started about "locking" the doors to my house. Like someone is gonna steal my TV while i'm at work or on vacation. That would be totally rude.

Then there are the cops, telling me to "slow down" because i'm going "die in a ball of fire and steel". What do the cops know?

My doctor invented something he called "cholesterol", to scare me away from all the eggs and cheese. i bet he has stock in cereal companies. More of W's trying to pad the pockets of his cronies. If there really was any threat from this "cholesterol" someone would tell me, right? Maybe warn me about the "risks" or tell me how to "control" it. But they just want to control me! Well screw them!

Why 3 levels (1)

pehrs (690959) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467191)

Why not take it all the way and reduce it to one level:

"Be afraid, be very afraid. There will soon be a terrorist attack. Support your masters in whatever they want to do."

For historical reasons I recommend a brownish-grey as the colour.

Ancient Roman equivalent (5, Insightful)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467193)

At times of no war, the doors of the Temple of Janus were closed. This happened several times during the reign of Augustus. Since then, this rarely happened, often because the Persians were being a nuisance.

In this respect, not much seems to have changed.

Re:Ancient Roman equivalent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29467281)

I wish I could give you a "+1 literate" mod point.

Re:Ancient Roman equivalent (2, Funny)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467681)

I wish I could give you a "+1 literate" mod point.

I wish I could give myself a +1 I read wikipedia too [wikipedia.org] mod.

Re:Ancient Roman equivalent (2, Interesting)

Samgilljoy (1147203) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467733)

Well, actually, the Parthians were the nuissance. The Persian Empire had long since fallen.

That said, the surname of the family that gave us the now deposed (and deceased) Shah of Iran, Pahlavi, is the Old Persian word for "Parthia."

From TFA... (1)

Epsilon Moonshade (108853) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467197)

Take note that if they go to three colors, the current Blue would be the new Yellow - that is to say "A general risk of terrorist attack". Methinks the summary's a bit off.

Re:From TFA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29467385)

I don't have any idea where you're getting that from. TFS, TFA, and the proposal itself all provide "A constant state of vigilance to protect against a terrorist attack" as the description of the new yellow level.

Re:From TFA... (1)

Epsilon Moonshade (108853) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467965)

From TFA:

The nation has been at Yellow, "an elevated significant risk of terrorist attacks" for three years. International and domestic flights have been at an Orange "high risk of terrorist attacks" for the same period.
A proposal by the Homeland Security Advisory Council, unveiled late Tuesday, recommends removing two of the five colors, with a standard state of affairs being a "guarded" Yellow. The Green "low risk of terrorist attacks" might get removed altogether, meaning stay prepared for your morning subway commute to turn deadly at any moment.

I'll grant, I might be missing^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hsuck and apparently missed something in the whole mess, but calling it a "guarded" yellow implied that they were going to use the current blue "guarded" definition for the new "yellow".

So yes, ignore me. I'ma go back to sleep now.

No Point (5, Insightful)

rotide (1015173) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467203)

Ignoring the fear that it was probably _designed_ to instill in the population and potentially the global population... It's just a pointless system.

If this system is at all meant for the general population, it's failed. When I go out on vacation, or planning on visiting a major city and/or landmark, I never even think of the Alert colors.

I understand that it may potentially only be for government agencies, especially law enforcement, but even then does saying we're at yellow, or orange, or even red _really_ give them direction? I'm assuming even if there are general rules in place to "do x and y when at color z" they only get rudimentary things done. Say, bringing in more personnel or putting more people on standby status. Even the agencies need to know _what_ to look for and in what fashion the event is predicted to take place.

Really, beyond fear, I can't see the point in the system at all. If there is something to report to the public, report it. If there is something to report to government agencies, I bet there are a bunch of better ways, already in use, to alert the proper acronyms of the who, what, when, where, and why.

How about this ... (4, Interesting)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467227)

Government WANK alert system. Whereby the wankiness of a government is scaled by public opinions, and if the scale hits a certain point, everyone in public office at that time is tossed out at once, and we elect a whole new batch?

We can have a National Referendum day in 60 days from the time the WANK alert is triggered. 15 days to register to run, 15 days to organize campaigns, and 30 days to run. If people campaign before the official campaign limit, they are automatically excluded from the ballot.

And nobody can run if they have ever held elected office before.

I'm sick to death of Damned Professional Politicians. Lets get some amateurs in and see if they can do better.

Re:How about this ... (3, Interesting)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467569)

I'm sick to death of Damned Professional Politicians. Lets get some amateurs in and see if they can do better.

I always thought this was a good idea. Ok not a good idea clearly but it points out how poor our election system really is. To make it to the top in politics you have to be a corrupt fast talker who is willing to do w/e it takes. This is exactly what you DON'T want in politics.

Then we actually got to take it to the test. California elected a bodybuilder that knew nothing of politics, hadnt gotten the necessary education and spent most of his life covered in oil flexing. Clearly this man has many disadvantages as a politician. And came to power through being the ultimate victor of the popularity contest so he was never forced to be a 'politician'.

Considering he was given a state with many referendums which is a huge disadvantage. I think he has done quite well. He even used his weight as a state to push various issues country wide. And since he did it as a republican he has done much to tie the sides together, working in a non-partisan way. This has been a great healing effect on the state and you don't see the same fervent partisan attacks you do in other big states.

Now imagine if we chose someone uncorrupted by politician but also someone who was well educated, spent their life learning political theory and philosophy. And better yet not forced to kowtow to the pubic opinion. People often say democracy isn't the best system it's the best we've had so far. I don't know if that is true, looking at the current state of politics I often wonder if returning to a monarchy system or other ancient system would be that bad. The only real advantage democracy has is that people are less likely to rebel since they are given the illusion of control through the election process.

Re:How about this ... (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467691)

Government WANK alert system. Whereby the wankiness of a government

Lame. This should have been about the government warning us of an imminent need to wank.

See, the problem with the current Terror Alert is that there is basically nothing you or I can or should do differently in response to its changing level. So what good does it do other than make us nervous and stressed? But that's no good, stress is bad and leads to people making stupid mistakes that could let a terrorist attack in. So the warning should basically be "DHS has set the current Wank Level to Orange, meaning you're probably tense and stressed and should probably go have a nice wank to let some steam off." Now that would be useful. Though on the other hand, it already gets crowded enough in airport bathrooms; can you imagine the line to the men's room after the TSA announcement?

Okay, so here's a better idea: Just like today, the TSA guy recording is played over the intercom "The DHS Terror Threat Level is orange!" but he says it in a reeeally sarcastic voice. That's the signal that everyone in the airport should stand up and make exaggerated wanking motions with their hands, optionally while sticking their tongue out to the side or making monkey noises.

That'll show the terrorists what we think of them!

Re:How about this ... (1)

pentalive (449155) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467815)

How about being Senator, Representative or even President for a 6 months.

People to hold these positions are randomly selected. The service is voluntary, you can opt out for the next instance or opt out completely for hardship reasons.

Each month a sixth of each office are replaced.

The lottery for each office is held on TV to ensure randomness.

Honestly, do you really think? (1)

iCantSpell (1162581) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467231)

Regardless of the color code you only have three security modes, oppressed, more oppressed, and tyranny. Anyone else who tells you otherwise is a martyr.

More liberal whining from slashdot (0, Troll)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467237)

They just don't get it. Cyber-liberals want all the advantages of our free society, but they insist on coddling Italians, and other Mexican terrorist cultures that hate our freedom. Alls I can say is, if you don't hate America and Our President so much, why don't you learn to speak Mexican and move to Italy? Our brave men, women and children in uniform stood up to the Italian menace for you, and THIS is how you thank them?

A useful system should be predictive (5, Funny)

neurogeneticist (1631367) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467261)

Green = "Go ahead, let your guard down, see what happens" Yellow = "There is a new budget up for vote, and if you don't give DHS more money the terrorists win" Red = "Imminent threat, only direct intervention by Steven Segal can prevent global disaster" Black = "We told you this would happen if you didn't give DHS more money"

Just use RGB/hex (1)

Dr. Impossible (1580675) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467263)

You wouldn't be locked to any predefined colors and you could be as specific as you wanted to be.

Re:Just use RGB/hex (1)

rwv (1636355) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467407)

But then somebody smart will hack the DHS website and replace it with this:

<center><h1><font color="#FF00FF">Everybody panic. OMG! Ponies!</font></h1></center>

Re:Just use RGB/hex (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467687)

You forgot the <blink> tags ;)

Illusion of security (1, Troll)

Zantac69 (1331461) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467267)

Those "threat levels" dont mean anything anymore because we are numb to them. The harassment that you get through security is really just an illusion: if you feel like you are inconvenienced and your stuff is being searched, then you feel safe. I remember going through security 3 times on one trip...getting to my hotel and pulling out the power brick from my briefcase only to have my pocket knife come out with it. I didnt intentionally bring it...but...holy crap on a crap cracker...I made it through security with that! There are other stories as well, but its all about the illusion - people feeling safe and people feeling like the govt is doing something. Truth is that if one of these jackholes really wants to do something terroristy - then they will find a way. I hate that it will happen...but it will...and I am sure we will get more inconvenienced over it.

Re:Illusion of security (1)

schon (31600) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467429)

The harassment that you get through security is really just an illusion

No, the harassment is real. It's the security that's the illusion. :) (But I think that's what you meant :)

Just get rid of them (1)

RazorSharp (1418697) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467295)

Having a childish, Star Trek based "Terror Alert System" only plays into the hands of terrorists by giving them goals. Furthermore, it lets them know if we're on to something. I'm not big on government secrecy, but if they're investigating an attack on the country I'd prefer that they take care of the problem and then tell everyone. Letting the terrorists know we're on to them by raising the "terror level" is just absurd.

Re:Just get rid of them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29467367)

Or maybe the "terror level" has little if nothing to do with the actual threat level.

I think the Onion had the best idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29467315)

Sirens and klaxons on every corner that run continuously during times of safety to remind us to remain ever vigilant.

The sirens will only be turned off during times of actual attacks.

I always liked Dave Barry's take (3, Funny)

wiredog (43288) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467341)

Here [washingtonpost.com]

Color Code Fuchsia Security Status ("Relatively High").

Color Code Magenta Security Status ("A Tad Higher Than Relatively High, but Not Totally High.")

Color Code Security Status Mauve ("Calm, but Tense").

Color Code Security Status Key Lime ("Partly Cloudy").

Color Code Security Status Maroon ("Dark Brownish Red").

Color Code Security Status Peach ("Viewer Discretion Advised").

Color Code Security Status Burnt Umber ("Medium Rare").

Color Code Security Status Tangerine ("Uh-Oh").

Color Code Security Status Jalapeno ("Everyone Down!").

Color Code Security Status Traffic Cone Orange ("Yipes!").

Re:I always liked Dave Barry's take (2, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467777)

"So we urge all citizens to continue leading normal lives, while remaining in a state of stark, butt-puckering terror."

Hehe. I love Dave Barry.

Stuck on Orange (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29467361)

By keeping the threat level at Orange (High) for as long as they have DHS has done two things:

1) Desensitized the rating system to the point that it's meaningless.

2) Left a lot of people thinking, "You mean after all these years and billions of $s we haven't been able to reduce the threat?"

Shade my eyes please. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29467433)

I think it's pretty telling how most people now call the warning system just a 'fear-mongering device'. Who would have thunk it... the sheep actually don't want to know when the wolf is coming, they just want the sheppard to protect them so they can go about their merry way.

I always thought the public should be the last to know about actual threats to them because telling them will just incite fear and panic, but it astonishes me that even the public seems to agree now.

Get Rid of... (1)

AthleteMusicianNerd (1633805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467517)

Dept. of *

One reason for color codes below "Guarded" (2, Interesting)

TechnologyResource (1638031) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467575)

Law enforcement use a similar color code system. Officers must always maintain the "always alert" (on guard) awareness level of vigilance. The only reason to have codes below this is for training and discipline purposes. If an officer lets their guard down and drops below the "always alert" level, the safety of the officer and/or citizens can be jeopardized. So, on a public spectrum, I agree with the change that the public only need to know our code awareness level from "Guarded" on up.

DHS? (1)

Thundarr Trollgrim (847077) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467625)

You may want to expand these obscure acronyms before plastering them all over the place.

I thought you were referring to a furniture store of some kind.

Re:DHS? (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467879)

Isn't it a shipping company? Oh, yeah, that's DHL...or is it the Department of Human Services? What are they doing adjusting the threat level anyways?

Fear mongering? Please. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29467897)

Look, it's a department whose sole purpose is defending the homeland. How is it fear mongering to stay on "a constant state of vigilance". And when would they ever go less than that, realistically? Do we want a Department of Homeland Defense whose alertness to terrorism status is "Not paying attention.", which is what is less than "vigilant".

To claim their stupid status level is fear mongering is similar to claiming that your local police department is fear mongering by warning that you should stay "constantly vigilant against crime". Fear mongering belongs to the media, who broadcast it as some sort of earth shattering news. The level is just a CYA for DHS so that if something gets blown up they can tell congress how vigilant they were, ... 'and the baddies must have been really clever cause gosh we've been staying alert. See how red the meter was?'

Anyone who is reduced to an active state of fear because the silly meter changes colors is not suited for public life and should probably retreat to some manner of convent where they get no news from the outside world.

Stupid government is (1)

xednieht (1117791) | more than 4 years ago | (#29467927)

more dangerous than cunning terrorists.
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