(via Scheier’s security blog)
Do you know the current American terrorist threat level? Probably not. And why is that? Because almost since inception, the threat level has been at yellow. Occasionally, it climbs up to orange. In certain parts of the country, it has been at red at times. But never has it been at blue or green – the two lowest levels. And what does that mean? It means since the inception of this idiotic political ploy the current administration has saddled us with, we have been told to be aware of anything out of the ordinary, for there is a significant risk of terrorist attack.
Let me let you in on a little secret – we are no more at risk of terrorist attack now than we were 10 years ago – OK, maybe a little more at risk given our attack on a country on questionable evidence of potential threat, thereby alienating many people who previously didn’t care enough about the US to even think about us, and making the ones who already hated us even more hateful and driven by vengeance – but really, that’s a tiny change, probably not even enough to measure on that little chart on the right. The only difference is the 9/11 attacks showed us that we were at risk, when we thought we were safe and secure in our little bubble of North America. And I don’t call the threat level security model stupid because of who is in the White House – honestly, I believe that had a Democrat been in the White House, we’d still have some stupid model of similar design. It might be something different, but it would still be there. And why do we have it? So politicians can point out the elevated risk in an easy to understand format and use that as justification for taking more of our money to spend it on more stupid “security” measures that won’t actually increase America’s security, and likely will reduce it.
The problem with constantly telling everyone to “be alert” is that we aren’t given any guidance on what we are to watch, how to tell if something is out of the ordinary, what we might expect as a higher risk attack, or anything else that would make an elevated alertness warning have meaning. And we’re Americans. Do you know what that means? We have short attention spans, an unwillingness to change our ways, and a tendency to ignore security and safety procedures when they inconvenience us. Even if the threat level model were any good, it’s been at yellow too long to matter. To make an impact on Americans’ behaviors at this point, it would probably take a red alert – I doubt even an orange alert on a nationwide basis would phase 99+% of the people in this country.
So, why the rant over all this? Well, the British are going to be implementing a similar poorly-conceived alert model. The one difference is, they suffer attacks sufficiently more often than we do that it might make a difference. It won’t, mind you, but potentially it could. If their government is smart enough to maintian a blue or green alert stage equivalent the vast majority of the time, going to yellow or orange equivalent might make a difference in peoples’ behaviors. I just hate to see more money wasted on more “security precautions” that are just well publicized ways for governments to spend money on actions that typically reduce security instead of improving it.
Continue reading British adopt stupid threat level model similar to US