Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Homeland Security Drops Color-Coded Terror Alerts

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the magic-8-ball-warnings dept.

Security 183

Hugh Pickens writes "The LA Times reports that the Homeland Security Department is poised to end its five-tiered, color-coded terrorism warning system, a post-Sept. 11 endeavor that has been called too vague to be useful and has been mostly ignored or mocked by the public. The domestic security advisory system was created in 2002 under then-Secretary Tom Ridge and in 2004, the department began assigning color threat levels to general targets such as aviation, financial services and mass transit. However the Department hasn't changed the alert level in four years, even after the attempted bombing of a flight to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009 and the alert level has only been elevated to red once, on Aug. 10, 2006, when British police disrupted a plot to detonate liquid explosives on airliners. Although it is unknown what, if anything, will replace the color-coded alerts, a senior Homeland Security official, who did not want to speak on the record about a decision still under review, says that 'the goal is to replace a system that communicates nothing.'" Can't we just re-use the big DefCon displays from Wargames?

cancel ×

183 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Lies and damned lies (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34343020)

Lies, statistics and politics.

Everyone knows... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34343028)

... that Mauve is the Universally recognised colour for danger.

The Truth Feminizm Hates (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34343532)

There are profound differences between men and women in world view and mode of thought. These are evident from the literature they create, the literature they consume, and the way they comport themselves over the spans of their careers.

The archetypal chick flick, Gone with the Wind, is described in its own advertising as "a searing tale of passion in a world gone mad." Essentially, it's about the feelings of the protagonist in a world that is utterly beyond the protagonist's control. If a Mills and Boon novel has a happy ending, it's provided by the intervention of a man. At no point does a woman attempt to change her world. She adapts to it, cries about it, or waits for a man to change it for her. Men, by contrast, write about almost nothing but taking control of their world, and the mechanics by which this is attempted.

Another fundamental difference is the list thing. Men teach one another the mechanism, the distilled principle, because there is less to remember and it has to be taken in context anyway. Women want a fixed context and rote instructions. If you try to teach them the principles instead, they don't listen and they get angry, saying "I don't care why, I just asked you to tell me what to do." If you give them a list of steps, it must be exhaustive like a computer program, because (also like a computer program) if context changes, breaking the procedure, or if anything has been omitted, blame is ascribed to the writer of the procedure. [Hey tech support guys, ever saw that before? A menu gets relocated so now they all need "retraining"]

A direct consequence of this intellectual inflexibility is that women do not create tools. They can be taught to use them, often very well, provided that the use of the tool can be described as lists of steps - programs!

Visit a craft shop like Spotlight. It will be crawling with women who think they are creative. In fact, all they ever do is stick glitter to boxes, or cut cloth according to a plan that was almost certainly created by a man, before stitching it together using a sewing machine, both likely invented and made for them by men. Some of them will vary the patterns, but creation ex nihilo is a behavior exhibited almost exclusively by men.

I suppose you could say that women play god using the thing between their legs, whereas men use the thing between their ears. This is probably acculturated behavior. Possibly it is an artifact, in men, of the inability to play god the easy way; certainly many of us see our creations as children of sorts.

If the above is not true, then why do women choose to date assholes while they want all nice guys to die alone? Something to think about before you idealize them.

Re:The Truth Feminizm Hates (0, Troll)

InfiniteWisdom (530090) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343698)

If the above is not true, then why do women choose to date assholes while they want all nice guys to die alone? Something to think about before you idealize them.

Because most self-described "nice" guys are nothing of the sort. They're just boring guys without a personality whose only positive virtue is this so called "niceness"... a pretense that is quickly dropped once the girl they're trying to get with starts dating someone else.

Re:The Truth Feminizm Hates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34343724)

If the above is not true, then why do women choose to date assholes while they want all nice guys to die alone? Something to think about before you idealize them.

Because most self-described "nice" guys are nothing of the sort. They're just boring guys without a personality whose only positive virtue is this so called "niceness"... a pretense that is quickly dropped once the girl they're trying to get with starts dating someone else.

Read this [encycloped...matica.com] and behold your lack of understanding.

You have broken a commandment of not being a douchebag: THOU SHALT NOT SPEAK OF THINGS ABOUT WHICH YE KNOW NOTHING.

A programmers approach (5, Insightful)

Anrego (830717) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343042)

Disclaimer: I’m Canadian, so my view of this whole color coded terror alert thing may be a bit off.

Rather than trying to produce something that “provides more information”, try producing something that directly satisfies someones requirements.

Who wants this information. What are they going to do with it? Lets say we are a financial institution and our terror alert is high.. what does this mean to us? How does it change our activities for today? What threat specific info would be useful in guiding us?

I think “levels” are kind of silly.. the information should be self explanatory and maybe in bulletin form. “There was an attempted bombing. We are not sure if this is isolated or part of a larger plot. Similar institutions or people in the same geographic area should be on the lookout for: whatever.” If there is a transit bombing.. then other transit institutions should be notified and some kind of established procedures should go into effect.

Using colors I think was especially silly, because paraphrasing Lewis Black (with less profanity), every time they talk about the color they have to explain what it means anyway.

Re:A programmers approach (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343120)

I agreed right up until you said geographic area.

Canada and the USA are too large. Someone making a statement could very easily attack NY, chicago, and LA all at the same time. Limiting yourself to a geographic area is limiting.

Re:A programmers approach (2, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343334)

How about "Warning! Some bad shit may happen somewhere on planet Earth! Be careful!"

Re:A programmers approach (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34343452)

Agreed - the main problem with the colour coded system is that it leaves too much room for doubt. It's only a mauve alert today? Then we're plainly not terrified enough. I propose a unary system, just one colour, representing blind animal panic 24/7.

Re:A programmers approach (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343702)

That is not nearly strong enough.

Hasn't HS left the warning level at: "An attack within the borders of the US is immanent within the next 24 hours" for the past 4 years?

Re:A programmers approach (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343814)

I agreed right up until you said geographic area.

Canada and the USA are too large. Someone making a statement could very easily attack NY, chicago, and LA all at the same time. Limiting yourself to a geographic area is limiting.

Then say "the USA" as your geographic area, but say "Chicago" if intelligence suggests the problem is specific to Chicago.

Re:A programmers approach (0, Offtopic)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343128)

Where did this article come from?

It's not vaguely tech related.

It's not 'on line'.

It doesn't run Linux, it doesn't even run Windows.

It has nothing to do with Steve Jobs, Steve Ballmer or even Larry Ellison.

There is not a peep about SCO.

You can't hack it.

I can't even come up with any humorous take-offs of the topic save a couple of stale 'In Soviet Russia" references.

kdawson didn't do it.

It has nothing to do with Nomads, memory or size.

Maybe someone can find a spelling mistake or two.

Re:A programmers approach (3, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343144)

Oh, and

Burma Shave

Re:A programmers approach (2, Insightful)

line-bundle (235965) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343168)

This is bad even for a troll. The above (like this response) has nothing to do with the article at hand, not even tangentially.

Read the masters before trolling. It takes practice, and years of refining.

Re:A programmers approach (3, Insightful)

Anrego (830717) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343576)

"News for nerds"

A large portion of the slashdot crowd (and nerds in general) have an interest in security (and security theater).

This is more slashdot-ish than a lot of stuff I've seen in the last few years.

Re:A programmers approach (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34343746)

Some are in it for the security, others are just waiting for the Blue Light Special over at the TSA scanner.

Re:A programmers approach (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34343670)

Stuff That Matters. Pretty much covers it. Oh, and Step 3=Profit!!!!

Re:A programmers approach (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343466)

the problem is the new system is just as much bullshit as the last.

saying that we are in a continually elevated threat of terrorism (at a minimum) is a complete misnomer.

Re:A programmers approach (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343544)

saying that we are in a continually elevated threat of terrorism (at a minimum) is a complete misnomer.

Indeed. A base level should be established and called simply "the norm". The whole "always in danger" thing seems mostly political.

Bulletins (or deviations from the norm) should be posted when a specific event happens. Some arbitrary "level" is just silly because no one is ever going to want to lower it.. which completely defeats any meaning it holds.

Re:A programmers approach (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34343888)

Oh yeah? Well I'm an American, and now I won't know when to be scared! Oh wait, I'm supposed to be scared all the time. Well, then, I won't know HOW scared I should be!

Obsolete because we will always be at Orange Alert (5, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343046)

Any higher level alert will be avoided as it could cause a panic and play into the terrorists' hands.

Any lower level alert will never be used because by design the war on terror is a perpetual war [wikipedia.org] . And ending the crisis would constitute the government surrendering power back to the people, which they don't want to do.

Re:Obsolete because we will always be at Orange Al (5, Informative)

MBCook (132727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343178)

It's Blakley's Law [blogspot.com] :

"Every public alert system's status indicator rises until it reaches its disaster imminent setting and remains at that setting until it is retired from service."

Re:Obsolete because we will always be at Orange Al (3, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343360)

Ok then, here's my public status indicator: #FFFFFF

That is all.

Re:Obsolete because we will always be at Orange Al (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34343638)

What's humorous is that the avian flu, which this guy cites, is actually down to a 3, from a 5 when his post was written.

Re:Obsolete because we will always be at Orange Al (4, Informative)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343190)

Obsolete because we will always be at Orange Alert

Yes, this is the problem.

The last time flew into Denver from Canada, they kept saying over the loudspeaker in the airport that we were at Threat Level Orange. I assumed this was something new and that I should brace for even worse security.

When I asked my US counterparts what was up, they basically said the same thing ... they've been at Threat Level Orange (it sounds much more official with the caps) for most of the last decade, and that they've stopped listening to it -- pretty much the whole country. In fact, they joked about it because it had ceased to be meaningful in any way. It seems to have become a perpetual state from which nobody will ever be moved. I fear, as you say, they would never allow us to go back to normal, because they'd have to give up their new-found control.

We have always been at war with Oceana (or is that us? I get so confused).

Re:Obsolete because we will always be at Orange Al (1)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343244)

> Obsolete because we will always be at Orange Alert

I think that a more appropriate term is Scare Level Orange.

Re:Obsolete because we will always be at Orange Al (1)

orangesquid (79734) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343410)

See, I liked the color system [about.com] ! You could combine it with other color codes--like, if Code Puce [wikipedia.org] (puce is a reddish-brown) was declared, it meant that terrorists flinging poo [wikipedia.org] was an imminent threat. ;)

Re:Obsolete because we will always be at Orange Al (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343578)

See, I liked the color system [about.com]!

That's actually fairly interesting. Assuming it's 100% legit, under condition green:

You Should:

        * Obtain a copy of Terrorism: Preparing for the Unexpected from your local Red Cross.
        * Develop a personal disaster plan and disaster supply kit using that brochure
        * Examine volunteer opportunities in your community; choose and agency to volunteer with and receive initial training
        * Take a Red Cross CPR/AED and first aid course

So, even under the best of all possible conditions, you should get getting pamphlets which will teach you to be paranoid and vigilant about hypothetical things for which there is no apparent risk.

So, there simply is expected to be a level of mostly contained background panic even at the best of times.

Wow. Just F'ing wow!!

Re:Obsolete because we will always be at Orange Al (2, Interesting)

arivanov (12034) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343846)

Stop winging.

At "green" condition in the days when I was living in Brezhnev's Soviet Union at the age of 10 (year 4 in their school system) I was supposed to know all the first aid stuff, be able to disassemble an AK47, service it and reassemble it in under 3 minutes, know how to use a gas mask, shoot at least 70+ score (1-10 additive, 10 shots) with a sport .22 or an air rifle as well as know all civil defence codes. I left around that time, however based on what I was told by my ex-classmates it actually got worse during Andropov's days with kids at the age of 12-13 being trained to use AK and PK for real and drills in schools.

The modern western world has not seen what a "forever war" means just yet. It has a long way to go to that and even longer to get to the Stalin's "war against the Trust" of the 1930-es.

It also is yet to see the real effect on the population of "not giving a f*ck". We are still far off from the days of "Brezhnev's despair". We are getting there though. It looks like some of the candidates to rule the biggest powers of the western world are demonstrating his educational level and IQ.

Re:Obsolete because we will always be at Orange Al (1)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343478)

they joked about it because it had ceased to be meaningful in any way

In order to cease, you need to start first.

Re:Obsolete because we will always be at Orange Al (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343876)

The last time flew into Denver from Canada, they kept saying over the loudspeaker in the airport that we were at Threat Level Orange. I assumed this was something new and that I should brace for even worse security.

<voice accent="british" type="male robotic overlo^W^H">
"May I have your attention please. Please do not leave cases or parcels unattended anywhere on the station. Any unattended articles are likely to be removed without warning."

"Please do not leave cases or parcels unattended anywhere on the station. Any unattended articles are likely to be removed and may be destroyed by the security services."
</voice>

<voice accent="british" type="female robotic mistress">
"Please keep your belongings with you at all times. Unattended articles may cause a delay to your service."
</voice>

I probably first heard this before my first birthday, and I've heard it most times I've waited more than five minutes for a train ever since. I've never left my luggage unattended though...

Re:Obsolete because we will always be at Orange Al (1)

Tuoqui (1091447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343458)

Yet everyone that has an IQ over 100 can see the 'terror threat level' is total bullshit... It's the other 80% of the population under 100 that is too stupid to realize these facts.

Re:Obsolete because we will always be at Orange Al (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34343568)

Dude, by definition it's the other 50% of the population under 100.

Thanks for clearing up on which side of the Bell curve you sit.

Re:Obsolete because we will always be at Orange Al (1)

cetialphav (246516) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343658)

It's the other 80% of the population under 100 that is too stupid to realize these facts.

This isn't about intelligence, though. It is about fear. Fear is an emotional state and not tied at all to intelligence. There are lots of very intelligent people who know the same facts that we do, and are still scared of a terrorist attack because they have visions of planes flying into buildings. Is it irrational? Sure. But fear has nothing to do with rationality because it is an emotional response. People will go for anything that makes them feel less afraid. Intrusive searches and security levels tend to make people feel safe even when those same people know that these things are mostly pointless.

Re:Obsolete because we will always be at Orange Al (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343672)

Y'know, I realize you're trying to be facetious, but by definition, 50% of the population has an IQ under 100.

Of course, IQ is a meaningless number as it is. It really doesn't mean anything when expressed as a number like that. It *could* have some meaning when expressed as +/- standard deviations (though it still isn't an accurate measure of your ability to actually use that knowledge), but that'll never happen, because that would require that the population as a whole have at least a basic understanding of statistics.

On topic, there isn't really much point in having a terror threat level. The old Defcon system (which is still in use) was much more meaningful, because it expressed the state of readiness of the military to go to total war... the problem is, we've been at war for the better part of the last decade. Actual combat. So that number wouldn't change either: we'd be at Defcon 2, and the only way to reach Defcon 1 would be if a nuclear exchange started. For the general population, it'd become yet another completely meaningless number.

Le sigh. We live in interesting times.

Re:Obsolete because we will always be at Orange Al (2, Insightful)

bunratty (545641) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343512)

Get serious. There's a doubleplusgood reason we've always been at war with Eurasia.

Re:Obsolete because we will always be at Orange Al (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343762)

We had this in the UK with the Bikini Alert codes... technically we should have remained at Amber for very long periods, but the overhead required in continuously mounting armed guards and vehicle searches on our bases was getting rather tiresome, so they introduced Bikini Black Aalpha which allowed them to drop to the new state of "higher than Black" but not have to perform all the extra checks required by Amber... we still performed a lot of checks, but on a random basis instead of having to search every vehicle and also were able to drop down to unarmed guards with a small armed reserve (provided by our normal military police) instead of everybody on guard having to be armed.

Bruce Schneier had a few thoughts a while back when Britain "adopted" the same threat levels to match America [schneier.com]

Re:Obsolete because we will always be at Orange Al (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34343842)

And ending the crisis would constitute the government surrendering power back to the people, which they don't want to do.

Give me a god damned break. The "people" have never lost power in this country, except by their own failure to use it. If you want to end stupid shit then STOP ELECTING STUPID POLITICIANS. Seriously, I know the slashdot-accepted wisdom is that all politicians are stupid, and the government is always wrong, but this is easy to prove false (hell, we are only talking about this because of technology the GOVERNMENT developed).

So instead of being endlessly cynical about politics why don't you stand up and DO something? If the people running for office in your area suck, THEN RUN YOURSELF. Start WORKING to make a difference, rather than sitting back and blaming everyone else.

tl;dr: YOU GET THE GOVERNMENT YOU DESERVE

This actually makes sense (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343050)

This actually makes sense. The "threat level orange" was getting pretty ridiculous, and political chances of the "threat level" ever returning to "green" or even "yellow" seemed awfully remote.

Re:This actually makes sense (4, Insightful)

MrMickS (568778) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343420)

Getting rid of it makes sense. Replacing it with something else doesn't. The true threat level can't be communicated to the general public as it would cause awkward questions. The current situation raises one awkward question that seems unpatriotic to ask. "Why is there always a threat of terrorism?"

How about... (1)

Openstandards.net (614258) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343056)

how many fingers am I holding up?

How about a car analogy? (4, Insightful)

Jojoba86 (1496883) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343058)

Why not use probability average American will get killed in a car accident divided by probability they will be killed by a terrorist.

It gives a useful comparison, is verifiable and makes the danger level obvious to all.

Re:How about a car analogy? (1)

6031769 (829845) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343078)

I think it would be more intuitive if you were to swap the numerator and denominator. Otherwise, it's a good plan with much to recommend it.

Re:How about a car analogy? (1)

Jojoba86 (1496883) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343176)

Damn it, that's the way round I intended!

I never say the complete opposite of what I mean.

Re:How about a car analogy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34343584)

Seriously, do you expect people to actually make the attempt to understand probability and statistics? That's crazy talk.

From an administrative standpoint, it's a lot easier, cheaper, and less time consuming to scare people into submission than it is to educate them. Machiavelli got it right about five centuries ago.

Re:How about a car analogy? (1)

imakemusic (1164993) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343624)

You answered your own question there.

Why not[...]?

Because...

it [...] makes the danger level obvious to all.

Re:How about a car analogy? (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343678)

We Americans aren't that good at math. Perhaps we could have some sort of Dorito-coded threat system? We could go from threat level cool-ranch all the way through threat level spicy-nacho!

Replacement (4, Funny)

JohnyDog (129809) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343060)

I bet the replacement will be 2-way switch with labels "Terror" and "More Terror" glued shut in the latter position.

Re:Replacement (2, Interesting)

ddxexex (1664191) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343166)

According to the article the replacement is 'elevated' and 'imminent'. With imminent they have to say why it is imminent and give a reasonably specific reason why. So you were right about the switch, but it sounds like they are going to at least toggle the switch once or twice before it gets stuck.

Re:Replacement (2, Funny)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343742)

And every time you try to switch it to "Terror" instead, it explodes?

about fucking time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34343066)

About fucking time. That whole system was totally pointless anyways.

What's the use, beyond scaring people. (1)

andsens (1658865) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343112)

I mean seriously. What the hell is this good for anyways?

Re:What's the use, beyond scaring people. (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343148)

Well one use of it was to drum up support for the President every time he screwed something up, or it looked like he was slipping in the polls. Terror alerts before, during, and after the Democratic National Convention in 2004, and not one during the entire week of the Republican Convention, as an example. Manipulation was the only use for the system, that I could see.

Suggested levels (3, Insightful)

Trip6 (1184883) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343132)

"Saddam" (i.e. no threat)
"Oh shit, I might have bounced a check"
"Oh shit, I bounced a check"
"OMG"
"OMFG"
"Pant-shitting"

Re:Suggested levels (2, Funny)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343268)

No no, this is slashdot - stick to the theme. I propose:

-"It's just a PEBKAC"
-"Goddammit, one of the RAID drives died"
-"Aww fuck, the PHBs are switching us over to Outlook"
-"What do you mean, you typed rm -rf?"
-The Data Centre is now a swimming pool"

Re:Suggested levels (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343374)

If you draw the control diagram suggested by the acronym, "PEBKAC" you will see the underlying problem with that production model.

Hint 1: it's open circuit.

Hint 2: where is your input coming from...

Re:Suggested levels (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34343416)

I think you meant:

-"It's just a PEBKAC"
-"Goddammit, one of the RAID drives died"
-"What do you mean, you typed rm -rf?"
-The Data Centre is now a swimming pool"
-"Aww fuck, the PHBs are switching us over to Outlook"

Re:Suggested levels (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34343492)

No no, this is slashdot - stick to the theme. I propose:

-"It's just a PEBKAC"
-"Goddammit, one of the RAID drives died"
-"Aww fuck, the PHBs are switching us over to Outlook"
-"What do you mean, you typed rm -rf?"
-The Data Centre is now a swimming pool"

Stick to the theme, but don't forget the memes...

-"It's just a PEBKAC"
-"Netcraft confirmed it, one of the RAID drives died"
-"Aww fuck, the PHBs are switching us over to Outlook"
-"In Soviet Russia, rm -rf typed YOU!"
-"The Data Centre is now a swimming pool"
-???
-"Profit!!!"

Re:Suggested levels (1)

gfreeman (456642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343580)

Where's my car analogy?!

Re:Suggested levels (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343694)

"Driving conditions are fine"
"It's raining, roads might be slippery"
"Thick fog, we don't know what's out there but it's probably bad"
"Black ice on the road, watch out for assholes"
"Canadian winter, better move into a bunker until this blows over"

Re:Suggested levels (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34343868)

I will oblige;

- "Running low on gas"
- "Shit, got a flat"
- "Shit, got a flat on the highway @80mph"
- "Government raises taxes on gas to obscene level"
- "Agenda 21 [un.org] is implemented world wide, car is confiscated"

I think we should use textures... (3, Funny)

Assmasher (456699) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343186)

...as threat indicators, I mean come on, how cool would it be to hear "*ding**dong*The Department of Homeland Security has deemed the current threat level to be 'Tapioca'"

Re:I think we should use textures... (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343700)

That's a good idea in theory but I imagine the general population would deem the current threat level to be "Bullshit". ;)

that's it for alert level monitoring (1)

formfeed (703859) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343194)

Oh Great!

For years, I looked at these home-built alert level gadgets and finally decided to build one myself.

-And the moment I buy a string of orange Halloween LED-lights, they decide to drop the color level system

This is a sudden outbreak of common sense! (1)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343198)

Replace the system with nothing. General description of threat is meaningless and does nothing but frightens the public.

Can't we just re-use the big DefCon displays from (1)

JDmetro (1745882) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343202)

Wargames?
No we can't those are for Global Thermonuclear War.
Not for some guy with a dynamite stick up his ass.

This decision is Brown! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34343208)

n/t

The new system (1)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343222)

Level 0: "Friendly pat" - no terror threat. Only theoretical, as we will never see this level.
Level 1: "First Knuckle" - be afraid citizen, but only a little, as the DHS will protect you. Now, cough, please.
Level 2: "Middle Finger" - citizen, we are going to have to "set aside" your rights for a bit. I hope you aren't allergic to latex.
Level 3: "Two in the stink" - prole, you will comply, for the good of the country.
Level 4: "Fist" - your papers are not in order. You vill follow us to the back room.
Level 5: "total(itarian) domination" - What searches? There are no searches! You have committed thoughcrime and wordcrime. Big Brother Loves You, and wants you to be better, and will re-educate you.

Re:The new system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34343304)

We are now at level 4.

Re:The new system (1)

yoder (178161) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343350)

Yup, level 4, but what does that really say about us?

My guess is we are too far gone to actually be able to fix this. We have only one direction to go.

Calibration time. (4, Insightful)

Apuleius (6901) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343256)

Yesterday most of the TSA's whole boddy scanners were idled, and very few passengers were asked to go through them. This way the TSA was able to claim that only a small number of people opted out (since only a small number of people were made to choose between getting pornscanned or gateraped.)

So apparently, the threat of bad PR and long lines from National Opt Out Day was a bigger threat than Al Qaeda. That is a more informative datum than the color code.

So clearly, people should chill the fuck out, we are not under a great thread, and it's time to quit pornscanning and fear mongering.

And also, it's time to change the thread scale from the color code to a scale of bitchiness, i.e. how bitchy do you have to be to be considered a bigger concern than Al Qaeda. Yesterday was clearly around a 2 out of 10 (i.e. "Meh") on any bitchiness scale. Even a slight level of bitchiness was enough to be a bigger concern than Al Qaeda. If Osama and his guys get some respite from dodging the Hellfire missiles and plan an actual attack, the level will rise all the way to 10/10 ("Reno 911").

Howzat?

The problem was (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343282)

It always looked too much like this [sierraclub.org]

Obligatory (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343284)

They were probably tired of switching light bulbs whenever they were going from blue alert to red alert.

Not my problem... (1)

Burning Plastic (153446) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343388)

I have a sanitation droid to do it for me...

The most appropriate change (1)

poptones (653660) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343326)

Replace the entire DHS with nothing. While we're at it, let's demolish the ICE black helicopter corps and every other federal domestic paramilitary department of ritual abuse.

Poorly-constructed joke (2, Insightful)

Idarubicin (579475) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343328)

Can't we just re-use the big DefCon displays from Wargames?

While I realize that the submitter was just cracking a joke, it's actually pretty lame on an important level (...probably on some unimportant ones, too, but I digress).

The DEFCON [wikipedia.org] (Defence Readiness Condition) system is in many ways the antithesis to the obscure TSA color-coded alerts. DEFCON assigns its lowest level (5) to the 'normal' state of preparedness -- none of this nonsense with a perpetual orange alert; if something is usual practice then that's the lowest condition.

Under DEFCON rules (or the terorrism-related FPCON [wikipedia.org] rules), members of the military have specific, clearly delineated responsibilities and tasks. There is a firm grasp of the meaning and intent of each condition. In contrast, telling civilians they're facing threat level Orange (or Yellow, or Red) doesn't mean anything. We don't know what to do differently - if anything - and we don't know what might happen, or how to respond, or when the condition might be returned to normal.

Of course, I also recognize that my message header could serve as an apt description of the whole color-coded threat warning system....

Re:Poorly-constructed joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34343772)

accidental moderation

Color Code (1)

steelscalp (1383757) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343336)

Today's threat level is PUMPKIN.

Inevitability (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343376)

It's hard to feel a sense of emergency when the threat level has been stuck on the same level for years.

Sunkist asked them to drop the color-coded alerts (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343386)

Sunkist [sunkist.com] sales were down. Nobody was buying oranges anymore, and lemon sales were stagnating too.

Re:Sunkist asked them to drop the color-coded aler (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343436)

Sunkist [sunkist.com] sales were down. Nobody was buying oranges anymore, and lemon sales were stagnating too.

And apparently nobody remembers what a lime even looks like. ;-)

Re:Sunkist asked them to drop the color-coded aler (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343500)

I'm Canadian. I thought USA homeland security only used yellow, orange and red.

Re:Sunkist asked them to drop the color-coded aler (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343510)

I'm Canadian. I thought USA homeland security only used yellow, orange and red.

As am I. Green is the hypothetical color we'll never see again -- think September 10, 2001.

Re:Sunkist asked them to drop the color-coded aler (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343710)

I'm Canadian. I thought USA homeland security only used yellow, orange and red.

As am I. Green is the hypothetical color we'll never see again -- think September 10, 2001.

You wouldn't have seen green back then anyway, or any other color for that matter, the color-coding system was introduced March 11, 2002; nobody thought it was necessary before that point.

Nice! (1)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343408)

One less toy for politicians to play bullshit bingo with whenever federal elections are around the corner.
Back in the day the Bush administration simply took the whole thing too far.

Purpose of the color coded alert system (1)

jms (11418) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343434)

The best explanation of the purpose of the color system I have heard is as follows. Potential suicide bombers are, by definition, not afraid of death, because they believe that their murder/suicide will bring them paradise. They are, however, terrified of being captured. This would mean an ignominous death in a jail cell of old age, and they would be denied their afterlife reward. As a result, AQ is said to be extremely skittish. If AQ believes that a plan has been exposed, they will scuttle the plan and go into hiding, sometimes for years.

The color system was designed to work in conjunction with the sort of intelligence we were getting -- where we knew from traffic analysis that an attack was likely about to be executed, but did not know the specifics. The idea was that the color level would be maintained at yellow, but when U.S. intelligence felt that an attack was imminent, but had no specifics, they would make a public announcement and raise the color level. This would, it was hoped, spook AQ enough for them to postpone or cancel the attack. Then, of course, there would be no attack, and the talk show hosts would mercilessly mock the government officials, who would have to console themselves with the knowledge that they had possibly saved hundreds or thousands of American lives, but not really knowing for sure.

The article gives no indication that the current Homeland Security understands the actual purpose of the system. They seem to be dismantling it for no other reason than that being mocked by the media rubs them the wrong way. I certainly hope that there are no more successful AQ attacks, but it is sobering to realize that the U.S. government is dismantling what may well be a very well functioning part of our national defense system because they find using it to be embarrassing.

Oblig Simpsons quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34343488)

Lisa: “By your logic, I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.”
Homer: “How does it work?”
Lisa: “It doesn’t work. It’s just a stupid rock.”
Homer: “Uh-huh.”
Lisa: “ but I don’t see any tigers around, do you?”

Re:Purpose of the color coded alert system (1)

Reapman (740286) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343720)

Sooo by having a threat level ALWAYS IN THE SAME COLOR is magically keeping the baddies away? How exactlly did the current threat level stop any of the attempts we know about? After the incident last year around Christmas I believe it went up, but it was AFTER the fact.

The color system in theory may have worked if it was used properly, but it wasn't. As the summary said, keeping it at the same threat level for 4 years is a joke. If I hear that we're at orange alert that should MEAN something.

In other news : Alerts will be colored chickens (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343504)

DHS will now release colored chickens to broadcast level of terror alerts. Citizens are encouraged to take the below actions depending on what color chicken you see running around in their neighborhood :

- Yellow colored chickens : Start looking at the minorities in your neighborhood suspiciously and irritatingly

- Orange colored chickens : Start moaning about good old days in doorsteps with your neighbors, and comment that "Good old {Insert-conservative-dead-president} would not let these damn {Insert-preferred-minority-to-rail-against}s run around prancing like {Insert-derogatory-irrelevant-adjective}s in our neighborhood like that" and spew in a minority house direction on the ground.

- Red colored chickens : Duck and cover. Or, alternatively, start treating the chicken as your long lost grand grandfather and change your name to "Doggone".

- Purple colored chicken : Youre already in planet Mars.

Re:In other news : Alerts will be colored chickens (1)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343828)

At which stage do we have to prepare for Radscorpions?

You've got a better chance of winning the lottery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34343520)

Literally your odds of winning the big prize in a lottery are far higher than dying in a terror attack in the US. Take away 911 and the Oklahoma bombing and the numbers become astronomical. People are panic stricken about being safe from terrorist yet more people are killed by lightning in the US. It's all media and government hype. They got lucky with 911 because the government had their eye off the ball and regulations were incredibly lax. I'm not talking about "enhanced" security measures I'm talking common sense ones like cabin security which would have prevented the plane crashes. Guess how many fatal terror attacks the enhanced security measures have stopped? Zero. What about the underwear bomber wouldn't they have stopped him? Even if his bombed had worked it wouldn't have brought the plane down and he seemed to be the only one at risk. The shoe bomber? Once again the bomb was too small to bring down a plane. Oklahoma and 911 were unusual because most terror attacks in this country aren't about killing large numbers of people they are about getting us to be afraid and changing how we live. If that's the yardstick then the terrorists are winning and we are helping them. Virtual all the major attacks were stopped through intelligence or lucky breaks outside the country. We're effectively taking off our shoes and getting groped to make people feel safer it's not really about stopping terrorists. I've heard the scanners are really more about drugs and contraband than bombs and weapons. I'm dead wrong? Well then what ever happened to the explosion detecting machines? Instead of those they went for more broad range technologies that just happen to reveal other things as well. This is along the lines of stopping some one for a broken tail light so the police have an excuse to search your car. It used to happen to me all the time. Now they can strip search you without cause let alone a court order and they don't even need to be police. The enhanced measures are just an excuse to search people and have little to do with terrorism. This holiday season relax about terrorist attacks and worry far more about a real threat, getting struck by lightning.

wrong suggestion (1)

pz (113803) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343562)

Can't we just re-use the big DefCon displays from Wargames?

How about we have no indicator whatsoever? I know, it's a crazy, wild idea. Just hold on a sec and follow along. I know, I know, it's crazy, but hear me out. The current color-coded threat level has been derided as useless by the public. The government employees themselves don't pay attention to it. Raising the threat any higher means Bad Things Coming, and we can't lower it, for fear of the public and officials getting complacent. Homeland security is doing nothing because it's hands are tied, and the indicator didn't serve much purpose in the first place.

Maybe, just maybe, I know it's crazy-talk, we should have no indicator at all.

Re:wrong suggestion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34343626)

Homeland security is doing nothing because it's hands are tied, ...

You call being searched and x-rayed at the airport by the TSA as "doing nothing"?

Unbelievable.

It will always be vague. (1)

mikaelwbergene (1944966) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343582)

It's not like a less vague system makes anything less vague since the public doesn't have the information the government does. And it all seems to come down to a matter of chance in the end.

Take the UK system for example:

Critical - an attack is expected imminently

Severe - an attack is highly likely

Substantial - an attack is a strong possibility

Moderate - an attack is possible, but not likely

Low - an attack is unlikely

Colours should have meaning (1)

onkelonkel (560274) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343614)

The Colours should have immediately obvious meanings.

For Example: Threat level Pink - LGBT Terrorist attacks imminent. Threat level Amber - we are being attacked by missing children. Threat level Plaid - Scottish Terrorists are about to play bagpipes at us.

It was always useless (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343646)

The "alert level" was Orange August 2006 until now. It was just an excuse to implement far-reaching "security" measures to strip people of their freedom in exchange for the illusion of security.

The odds of dying from cancer caused by the X-ray backscatter systems are higher than the odds of being killed by a terrorist on a flight. I'd rather take my chances with the terrorists.

'the goal is to replace a system...' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34343656)

'...that communicates nothing'

They're disbanding Home Land Security AND the TSA?

Department of Stupid Names (1)

SnowDog74 (745848) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343788)

Now can we work on that awkward name which sounds a little too much like "Department of Fatherland Security"? How about Domestic Security Service or Dept. of Domestic Security? Or State Security Department? "Homeland" sounds far too much like something George Bush thought of while he was playing with his Al Qaeda and G.I. Joe figurines.

Level Brown (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343818)

I think the entire thing is off base because it does not relate to real life in any meaningful way.

Call something: level Brown and people will understand - Brown is when you shit yourself.

Level Yellow is when you piss yourself.

Level Blue - that's when you have no air left and will die from suffocation.

Etc. Things like that.

Ron White knew how to deal with this. (1)

icannotthinkofaname (1480543) | more than 3 years ago | (#34343852)

A great (or at least, silly) man once said that if he were to replace the colored threat level system, he would do it with only two levels:

  • Go find a helmet
  • Put on the damn helmet

And now, people know what to do when the threat level is elevated.

Also, they call him "Tater Salad."

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?