The employee who sent the false missile alert in Hawaii, causing widespread panic and confusion, refuses to cooperate with the investigation, a federal official said Thursday.
Lisa Fowlkes, chief of the public safety office of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)), told the senators at a hearing that she was generally pleased with the cooperation of officials in Hawaii, but that "an employee key, the person who transmitted the false alert, refuses to cooperate. "
"We hope that person will reconsider," he said.
Richard Rapoza, a spokesman for the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, where the employee works, told BuzzFeed News he was not sure why there was a lack of cooperation with the FCC, since he was not deprived of his communications.
"With respect to our own investigations, you have taken the position that you filed a written statement shortly after the incident, and you do not need to talk to the investigators because you have nothing to add," Rapoza said.
The alert, which read "BALLISTIC BALLISTIC THREAT ENTRY TO HAWAII, SEEKS IMMEDIATE REFUGE, THIS IS NOT A SIMULATION," was sent to telephones on the morning of January 13, prompting residents and visitors to rush to seek shelter. They left stunned and confused when they were notified after 38 minutes that it was a false alarm.
The incorrect alert was sent as part of a drill by the state Emergency Management Agency, which is responsible for warnings and is part of the Department of Defense.
Last year, Hawaii became the first state to enable push alerts for incoming missiles warnings, which are part of the preparedness plans in the event of an attack by North Korea.
In the initial sequel to the alert, Hawaii Governor David Ige said the alert was sent after an emergency management official accidentally pressed the wrong button.
"It was a procedure that happens in the shift shift they go through to make sure the system works, and an employee pressed the wrong button," Ige said.
A facsimile of what the operator saw at work was launched by the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, which shows that the employee used a button in a drop-down menu with approximately five options to accidentally send the message. The employee clicked on a link titled "PACOM (CDW)", instead of the correct "DRILL-PACOM (DEMO)".
He also had to confirm his choice before sending it, according to agency officials.
While the investigation is ongoing, the employee was rebadigned to the Hawaii emergency operations center and does not have access to the warning system, Rapoza told BuzzFeed News after the incident.
The employee has received "dozens of death threats," Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Director Toby Clairmont told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser last week. There have also been threats against the employee's family.
But Clairmont also suggested that the incident could be more than a case of someone pressing the wrong button, telling the stellar advertiser that "it's not so easy to say it was a person" doing this. "
A total of four people were on duty that Saturday morning, he said, and the employee who sent the alert is a 10-year veteran of the agency and" very well trained and experienced. " After When the false alert was sent, the agency started requiring two people to sign the alerts, and also created a draft correction to send immediately to the phones if someone sends a false alert again, since one of the reasons cited to take 38 minutes to send the correction was that there was not a message prepared.
In the case of a real missile attack, the Pacific Command of the United States would notify the Hawaiian officials, who would activate the warning system
The alert is sent through the Wireless Emergency Alert, a federal system designed to send messages to people based on their geographic location. or by federal and state agencies to alert people about weather events and notifications of law enforcement.
Sen. Brian Schatz, a Hawaiian Democrat, said during the hearing that he is also introducing legislation to make it clear that the authority to send missile alerts is the responsibility of the federal government, which would still work with state and local emergency management agencies.  Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a reporter and night editor of BuzzFeed News and is based in Hawaii.
Contact Michelle Broder Van Dyke at [email protected]
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