President Donald Trump promises that the federal government will “get involved” with Hawaii following a false alarm about an incoming missile strike on the island state. Trump did not describe the level of federal involvement he envisions, but the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has opened an investigation.
Hundreds of thousands of Hawaii residents received cellphone alerts Saturday morning. The alert warned of an incoming ballistic missile strike and advised residents: “SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” The second alert saying there was no missile didn’t come for nearly 40 minutes.
State officials say someone doing a routine test during a shift change at the Emergency Management Agency mistakenly hit the live alert button. The state’s emergency management agency’s administrator has accepted responsibility for the mistake. Hawaii’s governor has apologized.
Speaking of Hawaii officials, Trump says, “I love that they took responsibility.” But he adds, “We’re going to get involved.”
The FCC chairman says it appears the government of Hawaii didn’t have reasonable safeguards in place that would have prevented the transmission of a false alert about an imminent missile strike. An investigation is well under way into the alert.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen says people should trust government alert systems and that the recent blunder in Hawaii was just a “very unfortunate mistake.” Nielsen says the alerts are vital and doesn’t want anyone to “draw the wrong conclusion” and ignore the warnings.
Hawaii House Speaker Scott Saiki says the system Hawaii residents have been told to rely on failed miserably.
(AP Photo: This smartphone screen capture shows a false incoming ballistic missile emergency alert sent from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency system on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018.)