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U.S. scraps color-coded terror alerts

U.S. scraps color-coded terror alerts

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- The nationwide color-coded, terror-alert scale is out and a point-specific system is in, U.S. Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano announced Thursday.

The new National Terror Advisory System Napolitano unveiled during a speech at the George Washington University Homeland Security Policy Institute will focus on specific terror threats to potential targets.

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The National Terrorism Advisory System is expected to be implemented in 90 days, starting Thursday, information on the department's Web site said. The color-coded system will remain in effect during the implementation phase.

The advisory system "will more effectively communicate information about terrorist threats by providing timely, detailed information to the public, government agencies, first responders, airports and other transportation hubs, and the private sector," the Web site said.

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In some cases, the system could issue broader alerts through public announcements, a Homeland Security briefing paper said.

"When a threat develops that could impact the public, we will tell you," the briefing paper said. "We will provide whatever information we can so you know how to protect yourselves, your families and your communities."

The change follows a Homeland Security task force review that concluded "the color-code system has suffered from a lack of credibility and clarity leading to an erosion of public confidence such that it should be abandoned."

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The new system will give law enforcement, airlines and potential targets critical information without unnecessarily alarming or confusing the public, lawmakers told USA Today.

The color-coded system "taught Americans to be scared, not prepared," said ranking House Homeland Security Committee member Bennie Thompson, D-Miss.

Committee Chairman Peter King, R-N.Y., said the color-coded system "served a valuable purpose in the terrible days and months following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, (but) it was clearly time (to replace it) with a more targeted system."

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