National Terrorism Advisory Alert System: No More Orange & Yellow
New Terrorism Advisory Alert System: DHS Moves Away from Meaningless Colors
The current terror alert level in the USA is no longer Yellow. This is good, since nobody ever knew what that meant anyway. The Department of Homeland Security has ditched the five-color system in favor of the National Terrorism Advisory Alert System, which only has two levels: "elevated threat" and "imminent threat".
Previously, the terror advisory system relied on colors: Green, Blue, Yellow, Orange and Red; Green and Blue have never being used. For example, today (4/20/2011) the old system is still in use: Yellow (elevated) for the US, and Orange (high) for airlines; presumably due to the risk of molestation at the hands of the TSA, since there are no actual current alerts.
Or, possibly, it's because the TSA is seriously considering passengers who complain about invasive search techniques (i.e. all passengers) to be "potential terrorists".
So, with the new system, there is no permanent chew-your-fingernails-in-fear threat level. Threat advisories are based on events: there is no threat announcement unless something is actually believed to be happening. Believed by whom is, of course, a whole separate issue. At any rate, the old terror alert system simply didn't convey useful information to the public in any meaningful way. It was inherently broken.
The Old System The New System
Red (Severe) Imminent Threat
Orange (High) Elevated Threat
Yellow (Elevated) None
Blue (Low) None
Green (Guarded) None
The move to simplify the threat level system is based on common sense: the color code was meaningless, and nobody took it seriously. That said, the DHS has burned through a lot of public goodwill already with the whole "be afraid all the time" thing.