Homeland Security Director
Tom Ridge has announced a new warning system to disseminate
information regarding the risk of terrorist attacks to local,
state, and federal authorities.
In an effort to create a
comprehensive framework for all levels of government,
businesses and the public, Ridge stated that the new Homeland
Security Advisory System is designed to measure and evaluate
terrorist threats and communicate them to the public in a
“It is a national
framework; yet it is flexible to apply to threats made against
a city, a state, a sector, or an industry,” said Ridge.
“It provides a common vocabulary, so officials from all
levels of government can communicate easily with one another
and to the public. It provides clear, easy to understand
factors which help measure threat.
“And most importantly, it
empowers government and citizens to take actions to address
the threat. For every level of threat, there will be a
level of preparedness. It is a system that is equal to
“Our emerging national
homeland security strategy will rely on the anti-terrorism
plans of all 50 states and the territories. But there
are 3,300 counties and parishes, and there are about 18,000
cities, Ridge stated. “So we all need to work together
to coordinate and collaborate our effort to be prepared.
Working together is the only way this system will work.
It's the only way we can have a national system.
“The system is the end
result of countless conversations with first responders, local
and state officials, business leaders and concerned citizens.
And I certainly express our appreciation for their input and
The Homeland Security
Advisory System was created under a Presidential Decision
Directive, and will provide warnings of terrorist threats
through a set of five graduated "threat conditions"
that would increase as the risk of the threat increases.
At each threat condition, first responders and agencies would
implement a corresponding set of "protective
measures" to further reduce vulnerability or increase
response capability during a period of heightened alert.
The five levels of alert are as follows: Low = Green;
Guarded = Blue; Elevated = Yellow; High = Orange; and Severe =
Red. Protective measures include actions such as:
increasing surveillance of critical locations; conducting
vulnerability assessments; coordinating emergency plans with
neighboring jurisdictions as well as other federal, state and
local agencies; and implementing contingency plans for
emergency response operations. Information used to
assess the level of threat will be based on factors such as
credibility, imminence, and severity.
“The nation currently
stands in the yellow condition — in elevated risk,” said
Ridge. “Chances are we will not be able to lower the
condition to green until, as the President said, the terror
networks of global reach have been defeated and dismantled.
And we are far from being able to predict that day.”
According to Ridge, the
attorney general will be responsible for communicating
threats, on a case-by-case basis, to law enforcement, state
and local officials, and the public. Until the system is
fully implemented, the protective measures will only apply to
the federal government, he stated. “In time, they will
apply to all levels of government, every community, and
hopefully, with buy-in from the private sector, the companies
in the private sector, as well.”
The Office of
To review the entire announcement and Homeland Security
Presidential Directive, visit the Office of Homeland Security.