America's terror alert system goes silent

Despite threats to the homeland coming from all sides, the Obama administration's terror alert system reportedly has never sent out a single warning to the public.

The National Terrorism Advisory System, which operates under the Department of Homeland Security, was announced in 2011 to replace the old, color-coded system used by the George W. Bush administration.

But Foreign Policy reports that not a single alert, bulletin or advisory has been issued since then. While the NTAS encourages Americans to check its website and other social media links for up-to-date information about threats in specific places or activities, no reports have ever been posted to their website, Twitter or Facebook page.

This, despite the heightened tensions in just the last few months over the rise of the Islamic State -- including beheadings of American journalists carried out by the group, and warnings that U.S. passport-carrying men and women are pledging their allegiance.

Under the George W. Bush administration, the five-colored terror ranking system was frequently employed -- but eventually turned into late night TV fodder. A makeover was called for and the complex color-coded system was replaced by a simpler two-tiered system. An “Imminent Threat Alert” is supposed to be issued when there is a “specific and impending terrorist threat” against America. The second tier warning is called an “Elevated Threat Alert."

“Something has been replaced with nothing,” Michael O’Hanlon, a national security expert at the Brookings Institution, told FP. “Whether the Bush model was bad enough that this represents a net improvement can be debated. However, it does feel like the government still hasn’t figured out how to communicate with citizens about possible dangers, or the need for vigilance.”

Daniel Byman, a professor in security studies at Georgetown University, told Foreign Policy that the old system had its flaws, too, and at times became "background noise."

He added,” They did little to inform the public of the nuances of the threat.”

Click for more from Foreign Policy.