Okay, boys and girls, pull out your crayons, and let’s see if you can do a better job of coloring than the Department of Homeland Security.

At long last, the obvious has dawned on our national security czars. Since March 12, 2002, back in the Bush-Cheney regime, the chief connection that We the Masses have had to America’s massive and secretive homeland protection program has been five colors: green, blue, yellow, orange, and red. That’s been the full extent of our nation’s terrorism alert system, which supposedly tells us how afraid to be at any given moment.

Finally, though, top DHS officials have conceded what the rest of us have known for years: Their color-coded warning scheme is a kindergarten-level joke that communicates nothing and protects no one.

Since 2006, the color hasn’t changed: orange. Every day, in every airport, the orange “threat level” is announced in a doomsday voice every five minutes or so. It’s useless information, so everyone tunes it out. Jay Leno has suggested that DHS should include plaid into its color scheme, for at least that would tell us that our country is under attack by Scotland.

So, DHS is giving up on its color code and is presently seeking a new public warning system that “provides specific, actionable information based on the latest intelligence.” Intelligence? These are the people who missed clear clues about the 9/11 crash bombers, the shoe bomber, and the underwear bomber. So let’s not count on their intelligence.

How about a series of sounds ranging from a ho-hum, not-to-worry sigh to a terrifying shriek of imminent doom? Or maybe just tell us when something bad is really about to happen–perhaps by shouting a blunt but useful message like, “Bend over and kiss your butt goodbye!” At least people would pay attention to that.

Get more news like this, directly in your inbox.

Subscribe to our newsletter.