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U.S. plans to revamp terror alert system

WASHINGTON -- Terror alerts from the federal government will soon have just two levels of warnings -- elevated and imminent -- and those will be relayed to the public only under certain circumstances, according to a Homeland Security draft obtained by The Associated Press.

Some terror warnings could be withheld from the public if announcing a threat would risk exposing an intelligence operation or an ongoing investigation, according to the confidential plan.

The system, replacing the current system of five color-coded levels, is expected to be in place by April 27.

A 19-page document, marked "for official use only" and dated April 1, describes the step-by-step process that would occur behind the scenes when the government believes terrorists might be threatening Americans.

The new terror alerts would also be published online using Facebook and Twitter "when appropriate," the plan said.

According to the draft plan, an "elevated" alert would warn of a credible threat against the UnitedStates. It probably would not specify timing or targets, but it could reveal terrorist trends that intelligence officials believe should be shared to prevent an attack. That alert would expire after no more than 30 days but could be extended.

An "imminent" alert would warn about a credible, specific and impending terrorist threat or an ongoing attack against the nation. That alert would expire after no more than seven days, though it, too, could be extended. -- AP

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