As a guy who knows a thing or two about warning systems, I watched again with dismay the misuse and abuse of the homeland security advisory system today. Granted, it isn’t really a “warning” system per se, but the general concept is the same: give people a quick way to assess the threat. The problem with the DHS system and pretty much every system of that sort in the government is that they tend to tell you what you should have been worrying about days or hours earlier; now they’re just telling you what you already know.
The problems related to these systems could take up a book and I don’t have that kind of time. Look up the names “Fallis” and “Sirrs” and you’ll get the picture. Let’s assume for a moment though that we can’t stop the powers that be from actually providing timely warning; is it too much to ask that when the crisis of the day has past that they walk the system back down to a more appropriate level of concern? I don’t mean Orange, I don’t mean Yellow, I mean Blue – Guarded – General risk of terrorist attacks. To borrow a phrase from the world of fashion: Blue is the new Yellow.
Keeping us at Yellow for goodness knows how long turn the system from a joke to a laughing stock. If the Brits had been keeping us clued in (I assume the best) then we should have gone to Orange just before the arrests and after the public announcement gone back to Yellow: even the dimmest terrorist knows that he’s got zero chance of scoring his 72 virgins for the next few weeks.
Terrorism isn’t going away any time soon so it is time to mentally and publicly recalibrate our pain threshold. Warp factor Blue Mr. Secretary, please.