Hawaii missile alert employee not co-operating in probe

2018-01-26 20:22
Cars drive past a highway sign that says 'MISSILE ALERT ERROR THERE IS NO THREAT' on the H-1 Freeway in Honolulu. (Cory Lum, Civil Beat via AP, File)

Cars drive past a highway sign that says 'MISSILE ALERT ERROR THERE IS NO THREAT' on the H-1 Freeway in Honolulu. (Cory Lum, Civil Beat via AP, File)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Honolulu - The Hawaii state employee who mistakenly sent an alert warning of a ballistic missile attack has refused to co-operate with federal and state investigators, a US official said on Thursday.

Lisa Fowlkes, head of the Federal Communications Commission Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, said the agency was disappointed by the refusal.

"We hope that person will reconsider," she told members of a US Senate commerce committee in Washington during a hearing on the alert that caused widespread panic and confusion.

However, Fowlkes said she was pleased with the co-operation of leaders of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.

Meanwhile, US Senator Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii, told the committee he was introducing legislation making it clear that the authority to issue missile alerts rests with the US departments of Defense and Homeland Security, not with state and local governments.

"It is increasingly clear to me that if we get all 50 states and all the territories and 3 007 counties across the country participating in this programme, the likelihood of another mistaken missile alert as a result of human or bureaucratic error is not zero," Schatz said.

Worker reassigned

Spokesperson Richard Rapoza said the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency has encouraged all employees to co-operate with investigations of the erroneous message.

He said the worker who sent it has also refused to co-operate with the state agency's internal investigations.

"He has taken the position that he provided a written statement shortly after the incident, and doesn't need to speak to investigators because he has nothing to add," Rapoza said in an email.

The name of the worker has not been released. He continues to work at the agency but has been reassigned to a section where he doesn't have access to the warning system.

He is among people at the agency that received death threats after the false alarm.

The alert was sent to cellphones, TV and radio stations in Hawaii. The effect of the mistake was compounded when it took 38 minutes for the emergency management agency to send an alert retracting the warning.

After the incident, the agency began requiring two people to sign off on the transmission of alerts and tests. It also drafted a correction that it will be able to send immediately if a missile alert is wrongly sent in the future.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    us

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.