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Implementation of US National Terrorism Advisory System announced

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has announced the implementation of the Department of Homeland Security’s National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS). This is described by the DHS as “a robust terrorism advisory system that provides timely information to the public about credible terrorist threats and replaces the former color-coded alert system”.

Under NTAS, DHS will coordinate with other federal entities to issue detailed alerts to the public when the federal government receives information about a credible terrorist threat.

NTAS alerts provide a concise summary of the potential threat including geographic region, mode of transportation, or critical infrastructure potentially affected by the threat, actions being taken to ensure public safety, as well as recommended steps that individuals, communities, business and governments can take to help prevent, mitigate or respond to a threat.

NTAS Alerts will include a clear statement on the nature of the threat, which will be defined in one of two ways:

  • ‘Elevated Threat’: Warns of a credible terrorist threat against the United States
  • ‘Imminent Threat’: Warns of a credible, specific, and impending terrorist threat against the United States

Depending on the nature of the threat, alerts may be sent to law enforcement, distributed to affected areas of the private sector, or issued more broadly to the public through both official and social media channels—including a designated DHS webpage (www.dhs.gov/alerts), Facebook, and via Twitter @NTASAlerts.

NTAS alerts and posters will also be displayed in places such as transit hubs, airports and government buildings.

NTAS threat alerts will be issued for a specific time period and will automatically expire. Alerts may be extended if new information becomes available or as a specific threat evolves.

On Jan. 27, Secretary Napolitano announced the new NTAS system —kicking off the 90-day transition period with state and local governments, law enforcement, private and non-profit sector partners, airports, and other transportation hubs.

US Senator Susan Collins, Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, which has oversight of the Department of Homeland Security, released the following comment:

“I have spoken to Secretary Napolitano on the importance of the Department of Homeland Security’s effort to ensure that the alert system is working in the best way possible. The old color-coded system was too blunt an instrument, and I have long called for a more useful and informative approach.

“In 2007, Senator Lieberman and I authored a law that required DHS to revise the current system and to provide the maximum level of detail possible. Rather than rely solely on a color-coded designation, we wanted to make more information and specific guidance available to citizens, first responders, and the private sector, so that appropriate steps could be taken to respond to the threat.

“The Department must ensure that the new system will effectively disseminate threat information in a timely manner and provide sound guidance to the public and affected homeland security partners on the actions they should take to protect themselves and the nation. I urge DHS to keep communication lines open with our state and local homeland security officials and with the private sector so that implementation of the system meets the vision set by the Secretary.

•Date: 21st April 2011 • Region: US •Type: Article • Topic: Terrorism

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