My feeling about terror alerts is this: If there’s a guy actually in the building with a smoking suitcase or a firearm protruding from his Dockers, then the threat indicator should be pulsating red with a siren of some sort. If not, then the threat level should be normal, meaning everyone needs to shut the hell up and give the friendly TSA guy all your shampoo. Oh, and take another run through the body scanner there, because we didn’t get a good look at your privates the first time.
The color-coded warning system that has saved countless lives since 2002 will end in April. Don’t ask me why. I always enjoyed the peace and serenity that came when the threat level was a calming yellow. It was practically a guarantee that nothing bad would happen on the flight, except for getting stuck in the middle seat between an obese person and that sweating guy whose enchiladas weren’t setting real well.
When the threat level was orange, that was OK too, because it was obvious that no terrorist could get away with diddly when all the passengers and security personnel were in such a heightened state of awareness. When it was red — for those of us with the cojones to fly at such a time — it was like being in your personal action thriller. You were living on the edge, savvy and steely-eyed, nodding to the flight attendant like Tom Cruise buckling into his F-14 tomcat. Yeah, darlin’, attending that marketing seminar in Atlanta is dangerous business. But what kind of a world would it be if nobody showed up at that marketing seminar?
Homeland Security is now flirting with the idea of new National Terror Advisory System, which will be based on specific threats in specific geographical areas. The idea, I guess, is that terrorists will be too absorbed in their dreams of jihad to look at the resulting chart and make alternate arrangements. I hope it works. But it always seems that the worst events are never the ones we’re warned about. Like everyone else, I tend to pay the most attention when the shit is actually hitting the fan.