Schatz leads hearing in Hawaii to examine missile alert mistake

Schatz leads hearing in Hawaii to examine missile alert mistake
Updated: Apr. 5, 2018 at 11:44 AM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

MANOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, on Thursday led a field hearing in Honolulu to take a closer look at January's missile alert mistake and discuss what could be done next.

All members of Hawaii's congressional delegation attended the hearing -- which took place at the East-West Center at the University of Hawaii at Manoa -- with each member questioning panels made up of officials from the Federal Communications Commission, U.S. Pacific Command, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Hawaii Emergency Management Agency and Hawaii Association of Broadcasters.

Each person provided testimony on what exactly happened on Jan. 13, the day that a false missile alert went out to millions of Hawaii residents and visitors.

"What happened on Jan. 13 was a wake-up call for everyone here in Hawaii and to leaders across the nation," said U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who recently introduced legislation to strengthen civil defense preparedness in Hawaii.

The goal of the hearing, which Schatz requested in January, was to focus specifically on the failure of Hawaii's emergency alert system and sought to explore options on how to improve the system to ensure public safety.

In February, Schatz introduced legislation that would require the federal government to take responsibility for alerting the public should a missile attack actually happen.

Under the Authenticating Local Emergencies and Real Threats Act – or ALERT Act – state and local governments would not be allowed to notify citizens about the threat.

"The federal government is in a position to know for sure whether a missile is on its way, and therefore when they make that determination, there should not be a middleman," said Schatz, a ranking member on the Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet.

Schatz has advocated in the past for federal responsibility. He has said that Hawaii rushed testing of the missile alert system.

The state was responsible for sending out the false missile alert. It took 38 minutes for the state to issue a retraction, sparking outrage over why it took so long. It was later revealed that the employee who sent the alert believed that an incoming missile was real.

This story will be updated.

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