New terror alert system for the U.S.

Posted at 9:38 AM, Dec 08, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-08 10:38:49-05

Homeland Security is set to unveil a new terror alert system, following the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. 

The specifics of the new alert system have not been released, and there is skepticism about how effective it can be.

Nader Hashemi, Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver, says the timing of the announcement shows the significance of the San Bernardino terror attack. 

"My reading is it's primarily motivated by the criticism that is directed toward President Obama," said Hashemi. "He's dropping poll numbers. Most Americans don't feel he is doing enough to confront ISIS."

After the Paris attacks, President Obama said there was no "specific and credible" threat to the United States, just weeks before the San Bernardino shooting. 

"That chasm between what the president said and what happened is where we can situate this announcement of a new Homeland Security threat system," said Hashemi.

The system will be an update to the National Terror Advisory System that is already in place. The two-tiered system has not been used because the standard is so high. One thing is clear -- it will not be anything like the color-coded system implemented after September 11. 

"I only remember one or two times hearing 'yellow' and it made me alert at the moment," said Kristie Strickland, who remembers the old system. "I don't know if it lasted a long time throughout my day."

Homeland Security says, once again, it's time for a change. 

"I think if it works the same way as the AMBER alert, I think it would," Nicky Debolt, who is open to using the new system. "I think getting a text notification or a website we can check on a daily basis would be beneficial."

Hashemi says it will be difficult to predict self-radicalization of individuals in the United States and warn Americans about potential attacks.