A Single Word Led Worker to Send Hawaii Missile Alert

Drill said it was 'not' a test
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2018 1:11 PM CST
In this Jan. 13, 2018, file photo provided by Civil Beat, 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)

(Newser) – At the root of the false ballistic missile alert in Hawaii were just three little letters: N-O-T. The FCC on Tuesday released the results of its preliminary investigation into the Jan. 13 mishap, and found that the issue was not that a worker mistakenly selected the incorrect item from a drop-down menu as earlier reported, but rather, believed there really was a missile threat, all because of a goof during a what Politico reports was a no-notice drill. NPR has the timeline. The drill kicked off during a shift change at 8:05am. The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency's (HI-EMA) midnight shift supervisor pretended to be US Pacific command and called day-shift warning officers and played a recording that correctly said "EXERCISE, EXERCISE, EXERCISE"—and, incorrectly, "THIS IS NOT A DRILL."

Those warning officers correctly interpreted it as a drill, but the warning officer at the alert origination terminal did not. That officer is, as previously reported, not cooperating with the FCC, but the FCC said it was able to piece together the series of events using a written statement the worker provided to HI-EMA in the incident's aftermath. The Washington Post details some of the changes that will be made to the process going forward, including more heads-up before drills and more layers of approval needed to enable alerts. (Read more Hawaii stories.)

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