Jul 1, 2007

Oh where have you gone little Homeland Security Advisory System graph?

If you were like me this weekend, the few hours you spent indoors away from the wonderful weather we are enjoying you could not have failed to see TV news reports of the attack on Glasgow's airport terminal on Saturday between innings of the Tigers game.

The thing that stuck me immediately when I tuned into MSNBC, CNN, CNBC and even Faux “News” was, where was that little colorful terror alert graph we saw constantly in 2003 and 2004 leading up to the 2004 Presidential Election? I don’t think I have seen it since Bush was re-elected in his “if you don’t vote for me the terrorists will kill you” campaign theme.

You recall that the Homeland Security Advisory System in the Department of Homeland Security was created by Presidential Directive six months after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, to provide a "comprehensive and effective means to disseminate information regarding the risk of terrorist acts to Federal, State, and local authorities and to the American people."

The pretty little color-coded system has five colors as follows:
Severe (red): severe risk
High (orange): high risk
Elevated (yellow): significant risk
Guarded (blue): general risk
Low (green): low risk

The little graph was seen on all the cable news networks as part of their rolling scrawl at the bottom of the screen, especially dug the campaign.

With each perceived threat, former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge ratcheted-up the Homeland Security Advisory System in an attempt to sustain public anxiety and fear even if subsequent information proved the threat was over-hyped. Do you remember the near-panic response caused by the Duct Tape & Plastic Sheeting Advisory in 2003? We had Dick Cheney out there making the ridiculous claim that if a Democrat was elected “we would be hit.” The alert system has never been lowered to the bottom two colors, blue and green.

The perceived “war on terror” was the centerpiece of Bush’s campaign. But the real meat of the campaign was fear-mongering with the same, constant drum-beat statement rolled out at every campaign stop where only Bush supporters were allowed in: "We are fighting the terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan and in other parts of the world so we do not have to fight them in the streets of our own cities."

The fear mongering really went into high gear from Memorial Day 2004 through July 4, and Homeland Security cranked out a series of terror alerts. Shortly after that, they warned us that Al Qaeda could disrupt the November elections.

Apparently, Bush dos not need that graph anymore. However, the system is still in place, but Bush does not need to scare us as much anymore. It appears the little graph-that-could will enter nostalgic status to take its place among pet rocks, 8-track tapes and lava lamps.

Based on the attack in Scotland, airports in the U.S. are orange, and the current national threat level is yellow, where it has been for a long time.

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