Hawaii worker who sent missile alert was '100% sure' attack was real

Feb 04, 2018, 02:12
Hawaii worker who sent missile alert was '100% sure' attack was real

"I was 100 percent sure that it was real", said the man, who had been with his department for more than 11 years.

The incident "shines a light" on the state's system failures, the man who sent the alert said, adding that he believed the federal government should handle such alerts.

The worker who mistakenly sent a statewide false-alarm alert warning of an impending missile attack in Hawaii said he "thought 100 percent [the threat] was real".

Reports say he had been a source of concern for colleagues for 10 years, having confused emergency drills with real-life incidents on at least two occasions.

"I did what I was trained to do", the worker told NBC News.

The man agreed to talk about what caused his lapse of judgment provided his identity remains a secret as he was getting death threats. "It was like a body blow", the man, who did not want to be identified, told reporters.

The ex-worker, who was eventually fired for the gaffe, said he felt "very badly for what's happened, the panic and the stress people felt, and all the hurt and pain". "I feel bad about it. It's been very hard". Officials revealed that the employee who sent the alert was sacked January 26.

The preliminary report from the Federal Communications Commission found the drill was "run without sufficient supervision" and that 'there were no procedures in place to prevent a single person from mistakenly sending a missile alert from the State of Hawaii'. The supervisor played a simulated missile notice that mimicked an actual message from the USA military's Pacific Command and warned worker of the fake threat.

Instead, he focused on the exercise's words, "this is not a drill", which came from a voice he didn't recognize.

Officials also said the worker had not heard a portion of the exercise that repeatedly declared it was an "exercise". Gen. Moses Kaoiwi, director of joint staff with the Hawaii National Guard, as interim agency administrator.

He also said protocols for the drills he was involved in changed each time.

A second emergency management employee had to step in to send the cancellation alert after the first employee "froze", officials said.

Waves of panic were sent on January 13 after an employee of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency transmitted a false alert about an incoming ballistic missile across millions of mobile phones. He said he saw a doctor for sleep issues.

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

His client wanted a chance to give the public a first-hand account of what happened that Saturday morning back on January 13 right before the false alert went out.

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