U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials are considering changes to the color-coded terrorism warning system and other methods of providing more useful information to the public without causing panic or disclosing intelligence information, says the Washington Post. Among possibilities proposed to Secretary Michael Chertoff are issuing lower-key alerts on the department’s Web site — as the State Department does with travel advisories — rather than by holding news conferences, and changing the color categories to numbers or letters.
Other options could include conducting periodic polls and focus groups to better understand how people react to warnings. The department may launch a years-long public education campaign, including television documentaries and participation in made-for-TV movies. The idea would be to help Americans understand the difference between various types of terrorist attacks, and explain the fragmentary nature of the government’s intelligence about where and how they may be carried out. Officials said Chertoff may decide not to change the public notification component, and probably will retain many procedures for issuing terror bulletins to state and local officials and industry executives.