Edited by Harry W. Richardson, Peter Gordon and James E. Moore II
Chapter 8: Improving the Homeland Security Advisory System: An Experimental Analysis of Threat Communication for National Security
* Philip T. Ganderton, David S. Brookshire and Richard L. Bernknopf INTRODUCTION On 1 August 2004, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge raised the Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS) threat level from yellow to orange for the sixth time since its inception in March 2002 (Ridge, 2004.)1 While the system has ﬁve threat levels, ranging from (1) green – low condition through (3) yellow – elevated condition to (5) red – severe condition, it has only ever been set to two of those levels – yellow by default and orange for short periods of time. When established, the system was intended ‘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’ (Bush, 2002). The system has become a key element of the government’s campaign against terrorism through the role it plays in Homeland Security. The threat level is prominently displayed on government websites, especially the Department of Homeland Security website, but also on those of many private agencies, including the Red Cross. The current HSAS threat level has been continuously displayed on the CNN/Headline News banner that shows at the bottom of the television screen. The system is not only intended to communicate timely and relevant information about security risks and terrorist threats it also contains information about precautions that agencies, businesses and members of the public can take against the threat. For ﬁscal year 2005, the administration is requesting an appropriation of $10 million...
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