The Fifth Horseman: The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Monday, July 11, 2005


The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Today's Topic: The Department of Homeland Security

I'm a little tired today, and I felt like an easy target, which the Department of Homeland Security definitely is.

Oh boy, it is.

As you may or may not know, the nation's mass transit system is currently on Level Orange High Alert. Homeland Security Secretary raised the alert level to Orange following Friday's terrorist bombing attack upon London's mass transit system.

So what has raising America's alert level accomplished?

Absolutely nothing.

Why? Because the terror alert levels are meaningless for several reasons. First of all, there are no specific guidelines or protocols for what to do during a terror alerts. Citizens are given vague instructions such as "be on increased alert" and security forces are encouraged to be upon "increased vigilance". This sounds a little vague and meaningless, doesn't it? The reason for this vagueness is simple: Over three years after 9/11, the government still has no comprehensive plan for increasing homeland security in the event of a terrorist threat. Despite all the big talk about "increased vigilance", the fact remains that security organizations have no comprehensive protocol for what to do when the Threat Level rises. In a nutshell, they simply have no clue what the much-lauded Terror Alert Code means.

The second reason for the Terror Alert Systems failure is the frequency with which the system is deployed, only for nothing to happen at all. Time and time again, the level has been raised to the Orange "High", and nothing has happened. The result of this is that, now, the vast majority of Americans pay no attention at all to the terror alerts. They are viewed as unreliable and meaningless due to the countless false alarms and vague instructions to citizens. This concept is understandable to any small child who has read the classic fable "The Boy Who Cried Wolf". If the Department of Homeland Security wants to keep any sort of relevance and credibility, it would do well to use reliable sources and confirm it intelligence before it raises the threat level.

Unfortunately, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has indicated that this will likely never be the case. While making the rounds of the Sunday talk show circuit, Chertoff declared that "I'd love to say we're going to see green in our lifetime...But I can't tell you in the forseeable future we're going to be below yellow."

The alert level has never dipped below yellow, or Elevated, even once since the creation of the terror alert system. This quite simply ridiculous. It is utterly impossible to keep an entire nation at an elevated security level for years at a time. The only realistic result of this is what is happening now: the common people simply drown out the alarmist calls of doom, ignore the Terror Alert System, and go on with their everyday lives.

Thanks to foolish handling, the Department of Homeland Security has effectively destroyed any relevance their Terror Alert System may once have held and made the future more dangerous by ensuring that, if the Alert Level is ever raised due to credible evidence, the warning will be ignored completely by the nation's jaded populace.

In an nutshell, the Terror Alert System has not made the United States any more secure than it was before 9/11. If anything, thanks the stupidity of the Department of Homeland Security, the United States is now an even more dangeorus place than it ever was before.

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