Tracking the Teror Alert Level

I’ve decided to start tracking the Terror Alert Level on a daily basis. Here’s why…

Howad Dean to Wolf Blitzer, regarding changes in the Terror Alert Level:

“I am concerned that every time something happens that’s not good for President Bush he plays this trump card, which is terrorism. His whole campaign is based on the notion that ‘I can keep you safe, therefore at times of difficulty for America stick with me,’ and then out comes Tom Ridge”

His comments are beginning to cause an uproar, with John Kerry half-heartedly disagreeing with Dean, and conservatives blasting Dean for making unfounded accusations.

I decided to look for a little evidence. I did some Google searches looking for a chart of when the Terror Alert Level has changed, and from what to what, but unfortunately didn’t find anything with a few quick searches.

So I’ve decided to start tracking the Terror Alert Level myself, on a daily basis. Once a day, a script running on my computer scrapes the latest Terror Alert Level from this page on, and stores the value for that day. If it’s changed since the previous day, an alert pops up, letting me know it’s changed.

When it changes, I’m going to look for news articles related to the change, and also check out what else has been going on for Bush for the last 48 hours or so. After collecting data for some time, hopefully I can get some idea of whether Dean’s comments were groundless or not.

Personally I suspect that Dean’s on to something, and have thought similarly myself for quite some time. What I’d really love to see someone do, and unfortunately it may not happen ’till after the election, is to chart the Terror Alert Level against Bush’s approval rating, and pre-election poll data. Some statistical analysis would tell us what the level of correlation actually is…

But then again, who can really tell whether Dean is right or not. After all, the only ones with access to the intelligence information that the Terror Alert Level is supposedly based on, are higher-ups in the CIA, FBI, Pentagon, maybe the Sennate Intelligence Committee, and of course the Bush Whitehouse.

We’ll see…


  1. Steven Vore said:

    that’d be something for a feed, wouldn’t it – the level changes and any items that may be related.

    August 16, 2004
  2. Jake Savin said:

    Of course, the terror alrert level hasn’t changed at all since I wrote this.

    I think the Bush administration has decided not to change the national status, because they got tons of complaints from unrelated local authorities that it was needlessly costing them a lot of money.

    A more paranoid way of looking at it would be that they don’t want people (reporters in particular) doing exactly what I’m doing — tracking the numbers, and correlating with current events/poll results.

    Aah well. It might have been a nice idea 18 months or 2 years ago, but I think for the moment at least, tracking the terror alert is probably not going to teach us much.

    August 16, 2004

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