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Ridge Announces National Alert System


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 timely manner.


“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 the threat.”


“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 their participation.”


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 Homeland Security
To review the entire announcement and Homeland Security Presidential Directive, visit the Office of Homeland Security.



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