el·e·vat·ed adj. raised up, especially above the ground or above the normal level
– Random House Dictionary
el·e·vat·ed adj. the lowest terrorist threat level during the years of 2001-2010
– George W. Bush Administrative Dictionary
If we’re speaking English, an threat level that’s normal can’t be “elevated.” But during the years of the Bush administration, we were speaking Newspeak and all the threat levels were above average: not once did threat levels fall to blue or green. To be honest, until I looked it up this morning, I didn’t even know there was a blue level of Homeland Security.
In the new system of threat levels introduced by the Obama administration, there is still an “elevated” threat level, along with an “imminent” threat status. But variation including a level of normalcy is built into this system: there are no more blanket threat levels thrown indefinitely over the entire nation, and every determination of a threat level includes a sunset date, past which threat assessments are set to expire unless a new determination is made.
On the new Homeland Security webpage for the National Terrorism Advisory System, there are no rotating graphics, no red-and-black icons of doom to titillate your senses and stoke your fears. There’s just this:
That’s right, troopers. Starting on April 20, the day the new system rolled out, and continuing through today, the current terrorist threat level is set at nothing. For the first time in a decade, the official level of our national hysteria has been allowed to drop back to zero.
It takes some courage for government officials to ramp down warnings; after all, terrorists could hypothetically strike at any time. The Obama administration deserves some credit on this account. Let’s see if they can keep it up.