The current national threat level is yellow, which, according to the Department of Homeland Security, means a “significant risk of terrorist attacks.” But it turns out the national threat level is almost always at yellow, defeating the whole purpose of a warning system that operates on a scale.

There’s actually a good reason for this boy-who-cried-wolf malfunction. While the public has more or less stopped paying attention to the alert system (which could have as much to do with the Bush administration abusing it for the sake of politics), it’s a handy way for the feds to trigger certain protocols among national and local law enforcement.

A presidential task force looked into this and just came back with mixed advice. At the very least, reports the Christian Science Monitor, we ought to slide the normal threat level down to blue, or “general risk of terrorist attacks.” Don’t you feel safer already? — PS

Christian Science Monitor:

“The Task Force members agreed that, at its best, there is currently indifference to the Homeland Security Advisory System and, at worst, there is a disturbing lack of public confidence in the system,” the group of security experts and public officials concluded in its report, which was completed this month.

While the group was split over whether to scrap the color-coded system, they recommended creating a new base line: blue, meaning guarded, which is currently one step above the lowest level (green). This would replace the practice now of keeping the threat level on yellow. Another recommendation: When the alert level is raised because of a possible terrorist threat, it should be lowered within 15 days “unless credible intelligence shows a reason to keep it elevated.”

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