Let's Scrap Color-Coded Terror Alerts: Homeland Security
Rather than 'threat level red,' you may soon hear 'imminent threat'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 24, 2010 7:26 AM CST
Travelers make their way through a security checkpoint at LaGuardia Airport in New York, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

(Newser) – America's color-coded terror alert system, long the butt of jokes and the target of complaints, may not be much longer for this world. The Homeland Security Department is proposing a change to the Homeland Security Advisory System, which many have faulted for being too vague or simply a scare tactic, the AP reports. Under the current system, the threat level is rated on a five-tier scale from green (low) to red (severe); the country has never been lower than the third tier, yellow (significant/elevated) since the system was incorporated eight years ago.

The replacement system would scrap the colors and become more descriptive, likely using just two tiers: elevated and imminent. When the level changes to "imminent," the threat would be described as specifically as possible, and the level would not stay at "imminent" longer than a week. Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole tells Good Morning America that the administration wants the new system to be "meaningful and relevant to the American people." One of the recommended new names: the National Terrorist Advisory System.