Hawaii: Employee Sent False Missile Alert With 2 Clicks

Worker has been 'temporarily reassigned'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 15, 2018 5:16 AM CST
Updated Jan 15, 2018 6:33 AM CST
This smartphone screen capture shows the retraction of a false incoming ballistic missile emergency alert sent from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency system on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)
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(Newser) – After Saturday morning's missile scare, Hawaii says it's changing procedures so that it's no longer possible for an employee to accidentally terrify the entire state with two clicks of a mouse. Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Administrator Vern Miyagi explained Sunday that the inbound missile alert was sent by a member of his team during a routine test that happens at the start of every shift, NBC News reports. Miyagi said he took responsibility for the error and the 38-minute delay in issuing an all-clear. Agency spokesman Richard Rapoza explained that an employee chose the wrong option from a drop-down menu, activating a missile warning instead of a test alert, Reuters reports. The employee then clicked "Yes" when the system asked whether he wanted to proceed, Rapoza said.

Rapoza said the employee responsible has been "temporarily reassigned" to other duties. Miyagi said procedures are being changed and from now on, activation of the test and a real incoming-missile alert will require two people, and a command that can cancel a mistaken activation within seconds will be created, USA Today reports. He said the reason it took so long to cancel Saturday's alert was because no such button was in place. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, whose agency is investigating the incident, said Sunday that it appears "reasonable safeguards" were lacking. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports that President Trump praised Hawaiian officials Sunday for taking responsibility. "I think it's terrific," he said. "They took responsibility. They made a mistake."

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