Homeland Security Advisory System: Possible Issues for Congressional Oversight [Updated February 16, 2005] [open pdf - 91KB]
From the Summary: "The Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS), established on March 12, 2002, is a color-coded terrorist threat warning system administered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The system, which federal departments and agencies are required to implement and use, provides recommended protective measures for federal departments and agencies to prevent, prepare for, mitigate against, and respond to terrorist attacks. DHS disseminates HSAS terrorist threat warnings to federal departments, state and local agencies, the public, and private-sector entities. This dissemination of warnings is conducted through multiple communication systems and public announcements. HSAS has five threat levels: low, guarded, elevated, high, and severe. From March 2002 to the present, the HSAS threat level has been no lower than elevated, and has been raised to high six times. The first time it was raised to high was on September 10, 2002, due to the fear of terrorist attacks on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The most recent time it was raised to high was on August 1, 2004, due to intelligence regarding possible terrorist attacks on financial institutions in New York City, Washington, DC, and Newark, New Jersey."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32023