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- Did you mean a promise to commit an offense, or a "fighting word"? Perhaps you should go there instead, dick-head!
A threat is the possibility of a mishap, such as by Al-Qaeda. In the wake of the September 11 attacks, the administration of George W. Bush combined 75 intelligence, border-security, and police departments into the Department of Homeland Security. This was a response to the most serious threat of all--reduction in their funding by Congress.
edit The department's mandate
Homeland Security officers defend the nation by smoking pipes and reading foreign newspapers to determine what crimes foreign terror organizations say they are going to commit soon. Unrelated events, such as the existence of an insurgency in Iraq that would blow up U.S. tanks after we pacified the country, are outside the department's mandate.
As Immigration is now under the Homeland Security umbrella, the department considers the possibility that terrorists would walk into the country, rather than arrive on a jet-liner that no one studied how to land. Keeping them out of the country--That department is right down the hall. However, the D.R.E.A.M. act, which would give tuition bargains to foreigners who sneak in, was officially amended to exclude foreigners wearing bombs.
edit The Threat Indicator
Since its creation in 2001, the best-known result of this huge department has been the development of a color-coded Threat Indicator. The indicator addresses Americans' greatest need from government: to tell us how we should feel. Its six levels indicate the likelihood, based on interviews published in the newspapers to which the CIA subscribes, that terrorists say they will attack the U.S. tomorrow.
The gay colors of the Threat Indicator are for interior designers, and for citizens who have an inability to use words.
The Threat Indicator is almost always at Level Orange. This tells Americans to pay close attention to their surroundings, notice anything suspicious, report everything unusual to 9-1-1--but don't panic. Go about your business normally, though you should stop and peek around every corner before walking forward.
The Threat Indicator only really needs five levels, because it will never, ever be set to Level Green. The biggest threat of all is that something would actually happen while the Threat Indicator was at Level Green. (See above, under Congressional funding.)
edit The new indicator
In January 2011, however, Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano announced that the Threat Indicator would be withdrawn, its color code replaced by a "more informative" threat description. For example, rather than Threat Level Orange, a given day might be rated PG-13 for language, brief nudity, and detonation of suitcase bombs.