The Obama administration is replacing the five-color terror-alert system with two warning levels and plans to sometimes use Facebook and Twitter, the Associated Press reports, citing a draft proposal from the Homeland Security Department. The new system is to be in place by April 27.
The new alerts — elevated and imminent — are to be conveyed publicly only under certain circumstances and for limited periods of time — like “a carton of milk … stamped expiration date,” AP writes. If officials determine that publicizing a threat would jeopardize intelligence operations, no alert would be issued.
Facebook and Twitter would be used “when appropriate” and only after officials are notified.
The 19-page document, marked “for official use only” and dated April 1, describes the step-by-step process that would occur behind the scenes when the government believes terrorists might be threatening Americans. It describes the sequence of notifying members of Congress, then counterterrorism officials in states and cities and then governors and mayors and, ultimately, the public. It specifies even details about how many minutes U.S. officials can wait before organizing urgent conference calls among themselves to discuss pending threats. It places the Homeland Security secretary, currently Janet Napolitano, in charge of the so-called National Terrorism Advisory System.
AP reported in January that the five-tiered system, put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, would be phased out by the end of April.
(Source: USA Today)