Homeland Security Department Announces New Terrorism Alert System

Boston, San Bernardino, Chattanooga and Seattle.

These are only a small sampling of the cities that have seen terror attacks since 9/11. The list of plots disrupted since then is much longer, and far less widely known.

When the Department of Homeland Security was created, part of its core mission was to notify the public “by providing timely, detailed information to the public, government agencies, first responders, airports and other transportation hubs, and the private sector” about terrorist threats. The original, color coded alerts were replaced in 2011, but in the wake of the San Bernardino attack, a new alert system has been ordered by DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson.

After 2011, not one alert was issued by DHS, in large part because the threshold for doing so was set so high, none of the plots being investigated reached the ceiling for triggering a public alert.

“We need a system that informs the public at large of what we are seeing,” DHSSecretary Jeh Johnson said during a recent national security forum. “Removing some of the mystery about the global terrorist threat, what we are doing about it and what we are asking the public to do.”

Today, DHS announced a modification to the National Terrorism Advisory System they’re calling bulletins. Bulletins will inform the public of more general threats, or trends, related to terrorist activity, versus an alert, which will trigger either an “elevated” or “imminent” notification to the public, informing of a specific threat and steps to take “to mitigate, prevent or respond to the threat.”

“This action is not in response to a specific, credible threat to the homeland, but is a prudent measure to ensure that Americans are better prepared and aware of the evolving terrorist threats,” the DHS press release read.

Immediately following the announcement of the changes to the NTAS, DHS released a bulletin, warning “we are concerned about the “self-radicalized” actor(s) who could strike with little or no notice.

Recent attacks and attempted attacks internationally and in the homeland warrant increased security, as well as increased public vigilance and awareness.”

The announcement was broadcast on the NTAS website, and Twitter, which was the first time the system has been used since it was created in 2011.

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Cover Photo Credit: MINEX GUATEMALA/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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About the Author
Tony Myhre is a physical security and emergency management consultant hailing from the Seattle area. An admitted news junkie, his interests are homeland security and the foster care system. When not writing for Rise News, you can find him opining on Twitter @trmyhre.

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