ABC News’ Pierre Thomas and Jason Ryan report: There’s the yellow, or elevated terror threat; the orange — or high — terror alert. Hearkening back to the days of plastic sheeting and duct tape, the Department of Homeland Security has now announced a review of the Homeland Security Advisory System, also referred to as the color code system.
Today, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has ordered a 60-day review of the system used to inform the public of the terror threat environment to see if it needs to be altered. The review will be bipartisan and will include elected leaders, law enforcement officials and security experts from think tanks.
The system, initially set up in 2002, has been adjusted 16 times. Since 2004, the system was raised or lowered to identify specific sectors which were under heightened alert — such as the aviation sector following the disruption of the 2006 trans-Atlantic liquid bomb plot and in 2004 for the financial sector after investigators discovered al Qaeda surveillance tapes and casing reports International Monetary Fund/World Bank in Washington, D.C., Citigroup Center in New York and Prudential Plaza in New Jersey.
There has been no significant upgrade or downgrade of the threat level since August 2006, with the disrupted liquid explosives plot out of London. Since its inception in March of 2002, the threat level has been changed 16 times.
The current system has never gone below yellow, or elevated risk of terrorist attack.
Last year, in a letter to then-DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., wrote, "With minor exceptions, the system has remained virtually unaltered since its inception… While the system may have been sufficient initially, with the formation of the department and the many developments in the area of domestic homeland security that occurred since 2002, it may be prudent to re-examine the current sufficiency of this color-coded advisory system."
In a statement today, Napolitano said, "My goal is simple: to have the most effective system in place to inform the American people about threats to our country."