American Forces Press Service

Bush Creates Homeland Security Advisory System

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 12, 2002 -- Federal, state and local authorities, law enforcement agents and the American people need to know about terrorist threats as quickly as possible.

To ensure that happens, President Bush today signed a directive creating the Homeland Security Advisory System. White House officials say the system is the foundation for building an effective communications structure.

Part of a series of initiatives to improve coordination and communication in the fight against terrorism, the advisory system would provide a national framework for federal, state and local governments and private industry, allowing officials to communicate the nature and degree of terrorist threats.

Government officials would determine if a threat is credible and whether it has been corroborated. They'd also determine the gravity of the threat and whether it is specific and imminent.

Government officials would also characterize levels of vigilance, preparedness and readiness in a series of graduated threat conditions. These threat conditions would help federal, state and local government officials, law enforcement agents and citizens decide what action they could take to help counter and respond to terrorist activity.

Based on the threat level, federal agencies would then implement protective measures that the government and the private sector would take to reduce vulnerabilities. States and localities would be encouraged to adopt compatible systems.

The advisory system would also include public announcements of threat advisories and alerts and inform people about government steps to counter the threat. The announcements would also provide information to help people respond to the threat.

Heightened threat conditions could be declared for the entire nation, for a specific geographic area, or for a functional or industrial sector, White House officials said. Officials would use a color-coded system: conditions green, blue, yellow, orange and red.

Condition Green would indicate a low threat of terrorist attack. Government and law enforcement authorities would refine and exercise protective measure plans and regularly assess facilities for vulnerabilities and taking steps to reduce them.

Condition Blue would indicate a general risk of terrorist attack. Among other precautions, authorities would check communications with emergency response and command locations. They would also review and update emergency response procedures and provide the public with necessary information.

Condition Yellow would indicate significant risk of terrorist attacks. Protective measures would include increasing surveillance of critical locations; coordinating emergency plans with nearby jurisdictions and implementing contingency and emergency response plans, as appropriate.

Condition Orange would indicate a high risk of terrorist attacks. Authorities would coordinate security efforts with armed forces or law enforcement agencies and prepare to work at an alternate site or with a dispersed work force and restrict access to essential personnel only. Additional precaution would be taken at public events.

Condition Red would indicate severe risk of terrorist attacks. In this case, emergency response personnel would be assigned and specially trained teams would be pre- positioned. Authorities would monitor, redirect or constrain transportation systems, close public and government facilities and increase or redirect personnel to address critical emergency needs.

The president has given the attorney general responsibility for developing, implementing and managing the Homeland Security Advisory System. Government and law enforcement officials and the public will have 45 days to comment on the plan. Ninety days later, in coordination with the Office of Homeland Security, the attorney general will present a system to the president for approval.