The U.S. Homeland Security Department has appointed a task force to conduct a 60-day review of the nation’s color-coded terror-alert system.
The 17-member panel “made up of Democrats and Republicans, elected officials at the state and local level, security experts, law-enforcement officials and other professionals” will assess the system and suggest “any improvements that are needed,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said.
“My goal is simple: to have the most effective system in place to inform the American people about threats to our country,” she said in a statement posted today on the department’s Web site.
The task force will be chaired by William Webster, a former director of both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency, and Frances Townsend, a homeland security adviser to former President George W. Bush, the statement said.
The five-color coding system, created after the Sept. 11 attacks, goes from green, signaling a low threat of attack, to red, signaling a severe threat. Since its introduction in March 2002, the level has been changed 16 times but remained most of the time at mid-level yellow (elevated) or orange (high), the statement said.
The threat level has never been lowered to blue (guarded) or green. It was elevated to red only once, on Aug. 10, 2002, for flights to the U.S. from the U.K. after British police said they foiled a plot to blow up aircraft bound for the U.S., the department said. The alert level was lowered to orange six days later.