Orange alert ends with new US alert system

The current alert rainbow was launched in 2002 by then-prez George W Bush.

Updated: Apr 21, 2011, 14:04 PM IST

New York: Less than a decade after creating a colour-coded threat system in response to the 9/11 attacks, the United States next week debuts an improved system for informing Americans about a terror risk, officials said on Wednesday.

US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said one reason for scuttling the current system is the criticism that it often created more confusion than clarity.

"We are changing to a system that gives people specificity, tells them what to do, what to prepare, what to look for and how to get more information," she told NBC television.

"It will be specific to geography, to event or incident," she said.

"And it will sunset in two weeks -- we get out of the business of cascading alerts," she said.

In order for an alert to remain active for longer than two weeks, "the intelligence community needs to re-evaluate it”, Napolitano said.

"If the information has changed, if the alert no longer needs to exist, it will automatically go away."

The current alert rainbow, launched in 2002 by then-president George W Bush, ranged from the lowest level green to blue (guarded), yellow (elevated), orange (high) and red (severe).

Napolitano said the United States has been on "orange" since 2006.

Most Americans however have been hard-pressed at any given time to say what the alert level was, or to know whether or not a given colour designation was cause for concern.

Napolitano said the new system, which goes into effect April 26, means that an alert will be invoked only when a clear terror danger exists.

"Say goodbye to orange," Napolitano said.

"This is about specific or imminent threats people need to know about to prepare themselves, their families, work with their communities," she told NBC.

"If we are asking them to look for something they can help with that," she said.

Bureau Report