Faded Colors: From the Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS) to the National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) [open pdf - 440KB]
From the thesis abstract: "After the events of 9/11, Homeland Security Presidential Directive-3 (HSPD-3) established the Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS) to provide a comprehensive and effective means to disseminate information regarding the risk of terrorist acts to federal, state, and local authorities and the American people. Under HSAS, threat levels were raised or lowered 16 times, but never below Threat Level Yellow (Elevated Condition). HSAS should have been straightforward and easy to understand. What evolved was confusion over alerts, lack of specific threat information, concerns over costs to institute and maintain protective measures, and questions regarding what was expected of citizens. Government agencies, the private sector, and the general population became immune with the threat level remaining at or above Yellow. HSAS was woefully misunderstood not just by the general population, but also within federal, state, and local governments. Ridiculed by comedians, HSAS gradually began to disappear, to the point where it was necessary to search to find the current threat level, whereas it had once been prominently posted. The purpose of this thesis is to review HSAS and the associated problems, look at comparable international systems, and present an alternative recommendation to provide timely and informative warnings of terrorist threats, and restore credibility by merging HSAS with the already existing DoD [Department of Defense] force protection conditions."
Naval Postgraduate School, Dudley Knox Library: http://www.nps.edu/Library/index.aspx