A not-for-profit security institute is recommending that the U.S. develop a unified hazard alert system that creeps into every corner of our communications and media.
The Partnership for Public Warning issued the 47-page report Monday, "Developing A Unified All-Hazard Public Warning System," outlining the need for such a system.
The institute recommends the "implementation of a unified, all-hazard, public warning message protocol, so that industry can modify existing hardware... telephones, televisions, or radios that are purchased and used daily for other reasons." The report also discusses building devices just for receiving the warnings - a kind of "terror beeper" issued by the government.
The numerous terrorist alerts propagated since 9/11 have done little but to place people into periodic states of panic. Recently, the government warned of 9/11-anniversary attacks, and then of more "spectacular" attacks on the horizon. Despite the government compulsively throwing the word "credible" into the warnings, Americans are starting to grow weary of hearing about the latest attack that won't happen.
But these waves of anxiety are a powerful tool of the Homeland Security boys. The most recent terrorist alert came during the final stages of passing the Homeland Security bill, which creates a frightening new bureaucracy that seems to cut through the Constitution like a knife through butter. Most senators took hardly a glance at the bill before voting on it, surely swayed by the induced wave of 9/11 flashbacks.
It's absolutely crucial, then, to maintain the power to induce widespread anxiety in this increasingly jaded population.
Enter the "terror beeper" in all its forms. Walking down the street, your cell phone starts to beep wildly - whether you like it or not - while printing the latest scare babble from Tom Ridge. Or at home, your television turns itself on and sounds like an air-raid siren, telling you that "credible sources indicate a major attack could be coming within 24 hours." No longer will you have to seek out this information. Everywhere you look, some type of media will be infiltrated by the unified alert system.
"We are talking about literally intruding into people’s lives, seizing their attention, and getting them to modify deeply embedded behaviors," says the report in one of its more candid moments.
Ultimately, it seems, people should constantly feel as if they are being warned about something. "Warning is not a single instantaneous action," says the report. "It is an ongoing process that peaks every once in a while." Being able to control these peaks and valleys is clearly the objective of the system.
While all sorts of actions could be taken to end this charade, maintaining your usual misbehavior is probably the best defense.