Hawaii false missile alert 'button pusher' is fired

The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency employee who triggered the false ballistic missile alert earlier this month ha...

Posted: Jan 31, 2018 10:24 AM
Updated: Jan 31, 2018 10:24 AM

The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency employee who triggered the false ballistic missile alert earlier this month has been fired, the state adjutant general said Tuesday.

The unnamed employee said he didn't know it was an exercise, even though five other employees in the room heard "exercise, exercise, exercise, which indicates that it is a drill," an investigating officer told reporters.

Hawaii officials finish investigation into false alarm

Agency administrator resigns

Retired Brig. Gen. Bruce Oliveira said, "When it became apparent that the real-world alert was issued," the employee who pushed the button "seemed confused, he froze and another employee had to take over his responsibilities."

The employee "had a history of confusing drill and real-world events," Oliveira said.

The firing was the latest fallout after an internal investigation found "that insufficient management controls, poor computer software design and human factors contributed" to the alert and a delayed correction message on January 13.

Maj. Gen. Joe Logan, Hawaii's state adjutant general, said Vern Miyagi, administrator of the state emergency management agency, resigned Tuesday.

Miyagi accepted full responsibility for the incident and the actions of his employees, Logan said. Another employee is in the process of being suspended without pay and a third employee resigned before any disciplinary action was taken, Logan said.

Logan said he appointed Brig. Gen. Moses Kaoiwi, director of joint staff with the Hawaii National Guard, as interim agency administrator.

Recommendations are released

Oliveira made two dozen recommendations, including eliminating practice drills during a shift change, stronger confirmation prompts for those sending an alert and improved training.

Oliveira's findings echoed an earlier Federal Communications Commission report.

The FCC report said the emergency management worker thought the state was under attack and sent out the warning that sent residents into panic.

"Many things went wrong in Hawaii," FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a published statement. "I don't say this for the purpose of casting blame or disparaging Hawaiian officials. We simply need to identify the problems in order to fix them -- not just in Hawaii, but anywhere else where they may exist."

The warning worker said he heard "this is not a drill" but did not hear "exercise, exercise, exercise" in the drill call and sent out an incoming ballistic missile alert throughout the state, according to the FCC.

"According to the written statement, this day shift warning officer therefore believed that the missile threat was real," the FCC said.

The worker would not speak to FCC officials in person and submitted the account of the incident in writing, the report noted.

The event sent the state into panic for 38 minutes until officials sent out a message saying the warning was a mistake.

Gov. David Ige came under criticism over the delay and he later said that he couldn't hop on Twitter because he forgot his password.

Asked at Tuesday's press conference whether he showed a lack of leadership, Ige said: "We are definitely committed to providing a warning to the public of impending natural or manmade disasters."

"We already made the changes required to assure that it never happens again," the governor added.

Chaos on January 13

About 8:06 a.m. on January 13, one employee initiated the ballistic missile alert drill around the time of a shift change at the emergency operation center. The words "exercise, exercise, exercise" were uttered, which is the normal procedure for such drills, an incident timeline said.

The fired employee later incorrectly activated the "real-world" alert code.

Alert messages appeared on the cell phones of agency employees, setting off a series of phone calls to the operations center.

"There is no ballistic missile threat to Hawaii -- this is a drill," one employee at the center later broadcast to counties on a warning system, according to the timeline.

At one point, one employee directed the fired employee to cancel the message on the alert system. But the fired employee "just sat there and didn't respond," the timeline said. Another employee seized the fired employee's mouse and sent out a cancellation message.

"At no point did Employee 1 assist in the process."

News media were contacted and the state agency reached out to local, state and federal officials. It also tweeted that there was no missile threat.

About 8:45 a.m. -- 38 minutes after the false alert went out -- a message was posted through the emergency alert system on local television, radio and audio broadcasts, and a television crawler banner. The message said: "False Alert. There is no missile threat to Hawaii."

FCC' Hawaii didn't have 'reasonable safeguards'

Apart from Hawaii's investigation, the FCC had also been looking into the incident, as the state came under criticism for lacking "reasonable safeguards.

Last week, an FCC official told a Senate committee hearing that the employee who sent out the false missile alert was not cooperating with its investigation. The person responsible for the mistake was disciplined and reassigned, but not fired, Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency said earlier this month.

There were two "troubling things" in the FCC preliminary findings, Pai said.

The state "didn't have reasonable safeguards in place to prevent human error from resulting in the tranmission of a false alert," the statement said. The second main problem, Pai said, was there was no plan of action if a false alert went out.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 449492

Reported Deaths: 6047
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin933031483
Ramsey40134741
Dakota33159344
Anoka31061365
Washington20220230
Stearns17922188
St. Louis13730242
Scott1199496
Wright11656104
Olmsted1054775
Sherburne822065
Carver696436
Clay653981
Rice610769
Kandiyohi554871
Blue Earth543233
Crow Wing484877
Otter Tail457967
Chisago453336
Benton421086
Winona390046
Douglas375766
Nobles371746
Mower367829
Goodhue349259
Polk328958
McLeod325745
Morrison312145
Beltrami311048
Lyon302538
Becker286239
Itasca285243
Isanti282941
Carlton280943
Steele27489
Pine267013
Freeborn247923
Todd232230
Nicollet225436
Brown215534
Mille Lacs214545
Le Sueur210715
Cass207723
Meeker200033
Waseca190116
Wabasha17243
Martin170826
Roseau165717
Hubbard149538
Redwood139827
Renville137540
Houston137213
Dodge13544
Chippewa131632
Cottonwood127718
Fillmore12435
Wadena120117
Rock110312
Sibley10857
Aitkin108333
Faribault106716
Watonwan10678
Pennington99715
Kanabec98018
Pipestone94723
Yellow Medicine93715
Murray8935
Jackson86010
Swift83518
Pope7415
Marshall70315
Stevens7018
Clearwater68514
Lac qui Parle65716
Lake64915
Wilkin6269
Koochiching59710
Lincoln4871
Big Stone4603
Unassigned43668
Grant4298
Norman4248
Mahnomen4107
Kittson37220
Red Lake3174
Traverse2523
Lake of the Woods1951
Cook1150

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 307088

Reported Deaths: 4340
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk46016457
Linn17864278
Scott15566166
Black Hawk13875238
Woodbury13040177
Johnson1216051
Dubuque11434153
Pottawattamie9047113
Dallas896572
Story871235
Webster470172
Cerro Gordo467871
Sioux456157
Clinton451863
Warren449038
Marshall428662
Buena Vista393829
Muscatine392278
Des Moines383641
Plymouth351468
Wapello346598
Jasper324059
Lee318131
Marion305752
Jones272649
Henry264831
Carroll255934
Bremer246848
Crawford232324
Washington220332
Boone219517
Benton210150
Mahaska195037
Jackson193031
Tama188758
Dickinson186227
Kossuth174844
Delaware174536
Clay169820
Wright165224
Fayette163623
Hamilton160730
Buchanan160423
Winneshiek156919
Harrison156762
Hardin155529
Cedar154219
Clayton151548
Butler149224
Page144915
Floyd139836
Cherokee139227
Mills136916
Lyon135732
Poweshiek133924
Hancock130724
Allamakee129628
Iowa126022
Calhoun12299
Grundy121626
Jefferson121325
Madison12129
Winnebago119729
Mitchell116235
Louisa115430
Cass113942
Chickasaw112212
Sac111115
Emmet110831
Appanoose110740
Union109222
Humboldt105819
Guthrie103424
Shelby103427
Franklin102718
Unassigned9410
Palo Alto90910
Montgomery86423
Keokuk85626
Howard84419
Monroe81319
Clarke7987
Pocahontas77711
Ida74730
Davis69421
Greene6947
Adair69020
Lucas6589
Monona64616
Osceola6419
Worth6133
Taylor5949
Fremont5176
Van Buren49713
Decatur4934
Ringgold44311
Wayne41721
Audubon4158
Adams2973
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 22°
Mason City
Cloudy
33° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 21°
Albert Lea
Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 32° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 21°
Austin
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 22°
Charles City
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 21°
A cold end to the workweek
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events