U.S. terrorism advisory system getting update, DHS secretary says

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Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson

WASHINGTON — Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced Wednesday an update to the country’s terrorism advisory system to give detailed information to the public in the event of a terror threat.

The National Terrorism Advisory System, or NTAS, communicates information about terrorist threats to the public, government agencies, first responders, airports and other transportation hubs, as well as the private sector.

Johnson announced a third-level advisory, called a bulletin. This bulletin would describe current developments or trends of threats to the U.S. and outline actions by DHS, the Justice Department and FBI. Specifically, what those agencies are doing to respond to that threat. The bulletin would also give advice to the public about how to report information if they see something of concern. The update to the system takes effect Wednesday.

A U.S. official briefing reporters about the update said the goal is to better inform Americans about ongoing threats to the homeland.

The official said, “The Secretary believed he needed a more flexible way of communicating threats to the American people.”

The email threat to Los Angeles on Wednesday, for example, would not have been the type of event that would have triggered this new alert. The U.S. official said the new advisory “would not be used unless it’s an event that changes the terrorist landscape.”

The updated advisory would be triggered by more general threat trends like the continued call by ISIS for attacks against the United States.

Some specifics could be detailed in a bulletin, for example, a threat to infrastructure like bridges but for the most part this new advisory is triggered by more general information.

Other existing alert levels like the “Elevated” or “Imminent” alert levels occur when officials have credible info about a threat to a specific location.

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