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'Bulletin' category added to terror alert system

Posted at 10:24 PM, Dec 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-17 04:07:29-05

The U.S. updated its terror alert system on Wednesday, unveiling a new "bulletin" category intended to better inform the public abbulout evolving terrorist threats.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said there remains no credible, specific terror threat to the United States but that the department nevertheless issued its first bulletin to keep the public informed in a "new phase of the global threat environment."

Wednesday's bulletin will be in effect until June 16, 2016 and outlines much of what Johnson and other federal have said in the days and weeks since the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino.

Johnson reiterated that while there's no specific threat, the government remains concerned about terrorist-inspired extremists, such as the attackers in California who killed 14 people before dying in a shootout with police.

The bulletin joins two other existing alert categories, elevated and imminent. An elevated alert warns of "a credible terrorism threat" while an imminent alert advises the public of a "credible, specific and impending terrorism threat."

This is the first change to the National Terrorism Advisory System since it replaced the color-coded system in 2011.

Johnson said administration officials considered issuing an alert earlier this year but decided that there was not enough specific information to meet the threshold do so.

The impact of the new system is yet to be determined.

"The risk is, if you provide too much information and it's too general, that people aren't going to pay attention to it,” said Jim Davis, who used run the Denver FBI office. "They want the public to be dialed into the fact there are threats out there and that if people see something that doesn't look right, they report it," he said.

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