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Homeland Security

The Homeland Security Advisory System

Homeland Security Advisory System Overview

The Homeland Security Advisory System features five homeland security threat conditions and shall be binding on the executive branch and suggested, although voluntary, to other levels of government and the private sector. Each homeland security threat condition is identified by a description and corresponding color. From lowest to highest, the levels and colors are:

Low = Green;
Guarded = Blue;
Elevated = Yellow;
High = Orange;
Severe = Red.

The higher the Homeland Security Threat Condition, the greater the risk of a terrorist attack. Risk includes both the probability of an attack occurring and its potential gravity. Threat Conditions shall be assigned by the Attorney General in consultation with the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security. Except in extreme circumstances, the Attorney General shall seek the views of the appropriate Homeland Security Principals or their subordinates, and other parties as appropriate, on the Threat Condition to be assigned.

Homeland Security Threat Conditions may be assigned for the entire Nation, or they may be set for a particular geographic area or industrial sector. Assigned Threat Conditions shall be reviewed at regular intervals to determine whether adjustments are warranted. For facilities, personnel, and operations inside the territorial United States, all Federal departments, agencies, and offices other than military facilities shall conform their existing homeland security threat advisory systems to this system and henceforth administer their systems consistent with the determination of the Attorney General with regard to the homeland security Threat Condition in effect.

The assignment of a homeland security Threat Condition by the Dept. of Homeland Security shall prompt the implementation of an appropriate set of Protective Measures. Protective Measures are the specific steps an organization shall take to reduce its vulnerability or increase its ability to respond during a period of heightened alert. The authority to craft and implement Protective Measures rests with the Federal departments and agencies. It is recognized that departments and agencies may have several preplanned sets of responses to a particular homeland security Threat Condition to facilitate a rapid, appropriate, and tailored response. Department and agency heads are responsible for developing their own Protective Measures and other antiterrorism or self-protection and continuity plans, and resourcing, rehearsing, documenting, and maintaining these plans.

Likewise, they retain the authority to respond, as necessary, to homeland security risks, threats, incidents, or events at facilities within the specific jurisdiction of their department or agency, and, as authorized by law, to direct agencies and industries to implement their own Protective Measures. They shall continue to be responsible for taking all appropriate proactive steps to reduce the vulnerability of their personnel and facilities to terrorist attack. Federal department and agency heads shall submit an annual written report to the President, through the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, describing the steps they have taken to develop and implement appropriate Protective Measures for each Threat Condition. Governors, mayors, and the leaders of other organizations are encouraged to conduct a similar review of their organizations.

Homeland Security Protective Measures.

The decision whether to publicly announce homeland security Threat Conditions shall be made on a case-by- case basis by the Attorney General in consultation with the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security. Every effort shall be made to share as much information regarding the threat as possible, consistent with the safety of the Nation. The Attorney General shall ensure, consistent with the safety of the Nation, that State and local government officials and law enforcement authorities are provided the most relevant and timely information.

The Attorney General shall be responsible for identifying any other information developed in the homeland security threat assessment process that would be useful to State and local officials and others and conveying it to them as permitted consistent with the constraints of classification. The Attorney General shall establish a process and a system for conveying relevant information to Federal, State, and local government official Homeland Security, law enforcement authorities, and the private sector expeditiously.

The Director of Central Intelligence and the Attorney General shall ensure that a continuous and timely flow of integrated homeland security threat assessments and reports is provided to the President, the Vice President, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff, the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. Whenever possible and practicable, these integrated homeland security threat assessments and reports shall be reviewed and commented upon by the wider interagency community.

A decision on which homeland security Threat Condition to assign shall integrate a variety of considerations. This integration will rely on qualitative assessment, not quantitative calculation. Higher Threat Conditions indicate greater risk of a terrorist act, with risk including both probability and gravity. Despite best efforts, there can be no guarantee that, at any given Threat Condition, a terrorist attack will not occur. An initial and important factor is the quality of the threat information itself. The evaluation of this threat information shall include, but not be limited to, the following factors:

To what degree is the homeland security threat information credible?
To what degree is the homeland security threat information corroborated?
To what degree is the homeland security threat specific and/or imminent?
How grave are the potential consequences of the threat to homeland security?
Homeland Security Threat Conditions and Associated Protective Measures

The world has changed since September 11, 2001. We remain a Nation at risk to terrorist attacks and will remain at risk for the foreseeable future. At all Homeland Security Threat Conditions, we must remain vigilant, prepared, and ready to deter terrorist attacks. The following Threat Conditions each represent an increasing risk of terrorist attacks. Beneath each homeland security Threat Condition are some suggested Protective Measures, recognizing that the heads of Federal departments and agencies are responsible for developing and implementing appropriate agency-specific Protective Measures:

Homeland Security Advisory System – Low Condition (Green)

This condition is declared when there is a low risk of terrorist attacks. Federal departments and agencies should consider the following general measures in addition to the agency-specific Protective Measures they develop and implement:

Refining and exercising as appropriate preplanned Protective Measures;Ensuring personnel receive proper training on the Homeland Security Advisory System and specific preplanned department or agency Protective Measures; and institutionalizing a process to assure that all facilities and regulated sectors are regularly assessed for vulnerabilities to terrorist attacks, and all reasonable measures are taken to mitigate these vulnerabilities.

Homeland Security Advisory System – Guarded Condition(Blue)

This condition is declared when there is a general risk of terrorist attacks. In addition to the Protective Measures taken in the previous Threat Condition, Federal departments and agencies should consider the following general measures in addition to the agency-specific Protective Measures that they will develop and implement:

Checking communications with designated emergency response or command locations;

Reviewing and updating emergency response procedures; and

Providing the public with any information that would strengthen its ability to act appropriately.

Homeland Security Advisory System – Elevated Condition (Yellow)

An Elevated Condition is declared when there is a significant risk of terrorist attacks. In addition to the Protective Measures taken in the previous Homeland Security Threat Conditions, Federal departments and agencies should consider the following general measures in addition to the Protective Measures that they will develop and implement:

Increasing surveillance of critical locations;

Coordinating homeland security emergency plans as appropriate with nearby jurisdictions;

Assessing whether the precise characteristics of the threat require the further refinement of preplanned Protective Measures; and

Implementing, as appropriate, contingency and emergency response plans.

Homeland Security Advisory System – High Condition (Orange)

A High Condition is declared when there is a high risk of terrorist attacks. In addition to the Protective Measures taken in the previous Threat Conditions, Federal departments and agencies should consider the following general measures in addition to the agency-specific Protective Measures that they will develop and implement:

Coordinating necessary security efforts with Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies or any National Guard or other appropriate armed forces organizations.

Taking additional precautions at public events and possibly considering alternative venues or even cancellation;

Preparing to execute homeland security contingency procedures, such as moving to an alternate site or dispersing their workforce; and restricting threatened facility access to essential personnel only.

Homeland Security Advisory System – Severe Condition (Red)

A Severe Condition reflects a severe risk of terrorist attacks. Under most circumstances, the Protective Measures for a Severe Condition are not intended to be sustained for substantial periods of time. In addition to the Protective Measures in the previous Threat Conditions, Federal departments and agencies also should consider the following general measures in addition to the agency-specific Protective Measures that they will develop and implement:

Increasing or redirecting personnel to address critical emergency needs.

Assigning emergency response personnel and pre-positioning and mobilizing specially trained teams or resources.

Monitoring, redirecting, or constraining transportation systems; and closing public and government facilities.

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