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PRESS ADVISORY: Select Committee on Homeland Security Hearing: "The Homeland Security Advisory System: Improving Preparedness through Effective Warning"

WHAT: The Select Committee on Homeland Security will hold a hearing to evaluate how the Homeland Security Advisory System program operates, and examine possible initiatives both in Congress and at the Department of Homeland Security to reform the system.

WHEN: Wednesday, February 4, 2004, at 12:30 p.m.

WHERE: 2175 Rayburn House Office Building


Christopher Cox, Chairman

Jim Turner, Ranking Member


Admiral James M. Loy
Deputy Secretary, Department of Homeland Security

Mr. John O. Brennan
Director, Terrorist Threat Integration Center

The Homeland Security Advisory System - the color-coded national threat warning system administered by the Department of Homeland Security - is a constant, inescapable reminder that the Nation is engaged in a global war on terror and may be at risk of attack. As the presidential directive establishing the System notes, "[t]he higher the Threat Condition, the greater the risk of a terrorist attack."

The System's color-coded warnings have become the primary means by which the federal Government communicates directly to the public-rather than to and through State and private sector officials-its bottom-line judgment on the risk of terrorist attack at any given time. An increase in the national threat level indicates a heightened risk of attack on our homeland and, as a result, may have direct implications for personal safety and far-reaching effects on personal behavior, including travel and spending patterns, with corresponding effects on economic conditions. The reliability, timeliness, and relevance of the System's national threat warnings must, therefore, be unquestioned.

There is, however, little understanding of how the national threat advisory system actually works. This hearing is intended to give Members and the public a better understanding of how the System operates, including the manner in which threat indications are brought to bear on the decision whether the national threat level should be adjusted. In addition, this hearing will give Members an opportunity to explore possible refinements to the System in order to tailor its warnings more closely to the regions and critical infrastructure sectors that may be at risk.

Chairman Cox has introduced H.R. 3266, The Faster and Smarter Funding for First Responders Act, which would require that HSAS warnings specify the regions or economic sectors to which they pertain.

Related Documents

Update on H.R. 3266 -- The Faster and Smarter Funding for First Responders Act

The Faster and Smarter Funding for First Responders Act Commonly Asked Questions

Homeland Security Presidential Directive-3

Homeland Security Advisory System

Remarks by Governor Ridge Announcing Homeland Security Advisory System