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Guidelines for U.S. Citizens in Event of Terrorist Attack

The terrorist events of September 11, 2000, radically and permanently changed the way Americans view domestic security. Not only did those events manifest the creation of a new federal bureaucracy, the Department of Homeland Security, but they also instilled anxiety and fear in Americans as never before with respect to possible terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. In order to deal with this anxiety and fear, U.S. officials and agencies have developed preparation plans for American citizens in case of biological or chemical attack by terrorist organizations. Such efforts have been collaborative. From the Department of Homeland Security and the Red Cross to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and community groups, preparing U.S. citizens and their homes against such potential attacks has been a primary focus of these groups since September 11, 2000.

On March 12, 2002, President Bushed signed the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 3, establishing the Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS). The directive established a means of managing terrorist threat warnings that would be carried out through collaboration between the U.S. Attorney General and the Office of Homeland Security. There are four factors that are typically used to determine threat level: 1) threat credibility; 2) corroboration of threat; 3) specificity or imminent nature of a threat; and 4) severity of a threat (Homeland, 2002, 1). Along with this management system, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge helped establish a color-coded warning system that encompasses the following five stages of alert in level of increasing severity:

GREEN û Low level of terrorist attack.

BLUE û General risk. Agencies should review and update emergency response procedures.

YELLOW û Elevated condition. There is significant risk of terrorist attack.

ORANGE û High risk of attack. Localities should coordinate necessary security efforts with armed forces or l...

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