“The whole state was terrified,” said Hawaiian US senator Brian Schatz following the false alarm on Saturday morning, which went uncorrected for 38 minutes. He called for immediate action.
AGAIN FALSE ALARM. What happened today is totally inexcusable. The whole state was terrified. There needs to be tough and quick accountability and a fixed process.
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) January 13, 2018
The alert was mistakenly sent out during an employee shift change at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency when someone literally “pushed the wrong button,” according to Hawaii Governor David Ige.
“We took shelter immediately … I was sitting in the bathtub with my children saying our prayers … I’m extremely angry right now,” said Hawaii State Rep Matt LoPresti, describing for CNN the panic that ensued following the alert.
The mistake came at “a time of heightened tensions” between the US and North Korea – a fact not lost on US Senator for Hawaii Mazie Hirono, journalist Glenn Greenwald or NYT national security correspondent David Sanger, who all alluded to the danger of the nuclear and digital age colliding.
Today’s alert was a false alarm. At a time of heightened tensions, we need to make sure all information released to the community is accurate. We need to get to the bottom of what happened and make sure it never happens again.
— Senator Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) January 13, 2018
Hawaii false alert should be an early warning sign of what happens when the nuclear age collides with the digital age. Panic precedes confirmation; decision-times shrink. In Cold War we had more than a few false alarms, but they were detected before someone hit the panic button.
— David Sanger (@SangerNYT) January 13, 2018
President Donald Trump, who was at his golf resort in Mar-A-Lago at the time of the alert, and who has remained uncharacteristically silent on Twitter since the debacle, has been criticized for his role in raising tensions.
“Our leaders have failed us,” Rep Tulsi Gabbard told CNN. “Donald Trump is taking too long. He’s not taking this threat seriously and there’s no time to waste. We’ve got to get rid of this nuclear threat from North Korea … because this is literally life and death for the people of Hawaii and for the people of this country.”
Local journalist Anthony Quintano tweeted “I’m still shaking” and shared an image of electronic signs on a highway in Honolulu still displaying corrections for the alert.
I’m still shaking
— Anthony Quintano (@AnthonyQuintano) January 13, 2018
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said the bureau has launched a full investigation into the false alert.