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U.S. Will Launch New 'National Alert System' For Terrorist Threats

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says he will soon announce a new national alert system aimed at better informing the public given the "new phase" of the global terrorist threat the U.S. is facing.

The department used to have a color-coded terror alert system that was put into place after Sept. 11, but that was replaced by the National Threat Advisory System (NTAS) in 2011.

Johnson said NTAS has never been used because it sets too high a bar, namely that it depends on there being a specific, credible threat to the homeland.

But, now, the U.S. is facing the prospect that people inspired by global terrorist groups may remain "below our radar and could act on a moment's notice."

That reality, he said, requires a new system that has an "intermediate level" to it and he expects to announce what the new system is in the coming days.

The goal of the system would be to inform the public at large – rather than allowing the public to get information piecemeal through news leaks — tell them what the government is doing about it, and what the government is asking the public to do.

Johnson spoke this morning at a moderated discussion hosted by Defense One.

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Shirley Henry is the Chief Washington Editor for NPR News. In this role, she oversees all aspects of the Washington Desk. Its correspondents, editors and producers cover the White House, Congress, the Supreme Court, the Justice Department, presidential campaigns and other electoral politics, and tell stories across all of NPR's broadcast and digital platforms. She also oversees and edits the NPR Politics Podcast.
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