RealNews

Terror alerts run risk of crying wolf

The public is largely indifferent to color-code warnings as attacks have not materialized. On May 20, when the nation went to Code Orange – the second-highest level in the national terror alert system – the US Capitol and the sidewalk in front of the White House remained open to visitors. District of Columbia police stuck with eight-hour shifts, not the 12-hour tours they had worked during previous orange alerts. There was no run on duct tape at Home Depot, reflecting the collective public shrug that seemed to greet the latest warnings of possible impending terrorism, dubbed “Orange Lite.” The nation’s capital had gone to a “lower level of elevated alert,” local authorities explained, because of the lack of any specific threat against Washington. The nation is back down to Code Yellow, the middle of the five-tier alert system, but few people noticed when news of the change was announced Friday. Fifteen months after the color-coded alert scheme was introduced, experts on terrorism and those on the front lines of protecting public safety are grateful that there have been no attacks on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001. But this stretch of suspenseful calm, punctuated by government warnings of possible attacks that don’t occur, risks what analysts call a “crying wolf syndrome,” in which the public and even first responders lower their guard. Full Story

OODA Analyst

OODA Analyst

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