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Three Colors for Terrorism Warnings: A Return to Constant Hysteria

Insanity is the Department of Homeland Security’s color-coded terrorism “alert” system, which tells you nothing except that people are capable of coloring within boxes at airports. DHS empaneled a commission to examine it. Everyone with a fourth-grade education hoped that would lead to some kind of face-saving way of scrapping the system. Because who could possibly think it ought to remain in place?

Why, Frances Fragos Townsend, the former Bush White House counterterrorism adviser who chairs the commission. The Washington Post:

“The American people should be provided with as much detail — consistent with national security — that is focused on specific locations and sectors at specific risk,” she said. They should also be confident that “alert states, if elevated, will be lowered back to normal” within 15 days, absent credible intelligence of a continuing threat, she said.

Specifically, the task force said the country should redefine the current threat level — yellow — to serve as a lower baseline, called “guarded.” Orange would be redesignated as “elevated risk,” and red would remain “high alert,” for an imminent or ongoing attack.

Why isn’t there a keyboard shortcut for “facepalm,” already? According to Townsend, we should walk around in a constant level of “guarded” awareness of being blown up in a terrorist attack. You there, the farmer in Sheboygin. al-Qaeda is coming for your grain silo. It’s a thin line between vigilance and hysteria, and this proposal is a number of hopscotch jumps across it. And how in the world would viewing my life as a constant state of yellow alert possibly make me more vigilant against terrorism? It’s almost like turning this proposal over to a senior member of one of the most disastrous administrations in American history is a poorly thought out idea.

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