It is one of the most visible and often mocked legacies of the Bush administration: the color coded terror alert scale that was intended to communicate the terror threat level at any given time. Now the Department of Homeland Security is recommending scrapping the scale for a more descriptive system.
The Obama administration, along with other Democrats, have criticized the system as easily politicized and manipulated into political scare tactics.
While the administration has indicated its readiness to get rid of the system, it has not elaborated on what it is suggesting as a replacement other to say they are looking for something “more relevant to the American people.”
But the fact that the administration can’t articulate just what should replace the current system indicates just how useless the idea of terror alerts are in general. Any system created has the possibility of being politicized and used to drum up fear, regardless of the wording or coloring for that matter. The information communicated is all but meaningless to our every day lives and really does little more than to keep a reminder in the minds of voters that their lives are under constant threat.
That ongoing reminder serves as the basis for the extended police powers first developed under Bush and then continued under President Obama. That’s all. The administration is taking the right step in scrapping the system created under Tom Ridge and President Bush, but it should go one step further and scrap the idea of a terror alert system all together.
photo courtesy of Fingers SFV via Flickr