U.S. may change terror alert system

| 6/9/2003

After raising the national terror threat level to code orange three times in the past four months, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said June 5 he’s worried about the "sustainability and credibility" of the color-coded system, USA Today reported.

Ridge wants a new system where alerts can be targeted for specific industries, states or cities rather than the entire country.

The secretary said the alert system could be only as good as the intelligence reports that guide it. Those reports have been too vague to allow for geographically targeted alerts.

Ridge also said he thought terrorists might be pumping up the "chatter" picked up by intelligence officials in order to trick the country into tightening security. That "can be part of their deceptive art," he said.

Under the five-color system, the federal government is required to put security measures in place, depending on the threat level. States and cities are encouraged to follow suit but are not required to. For the most part, the nation has remained at yellow, or elevated risk of attack. But three times since February, the level has been raised to orange, or high risk, and then lowered.