Newly-released emails about false missile alert reveal warnings about lack of protocols

Newly-released emails about false missile alert reveal warnings about lack of protocols
Updated: Jun. 26, 2018 at 5:11 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Five months after a false missile alert was sent to all Hawaii cellphones, the state has released a trove of emails related to the incident.

The redacted emails were released as part of a public records request filed by members of the media, including Hawaii News Now.

The ask: Any communications about the false missile alert among state leaders, including those at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, which sent out the false warning.

The emails that were released are hardly light reading, but they do paint a clearer picture of how state officials analyzed what went wrong in the days and weeks following the bogus alert.

The false alert went out on the morning of Jan. 13, and a correction wasn't sent to phones for 38 minutes.


From former Agency Administrator Vern Miyagi's inbox

From state Defense Department Director Maj. Gen. Arthur Logan's inbox

From state Deputy Adjutant Gen. Kenneth Hara

An investigation found that a Hawaii Emergency Management Agency sent out the warning during a ballistic missile drill.

He has said he thought Hawaii was actually under attack; the state says he had a history of confusing drills and reality.

In one email the day after the alert went out, an employee at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency tells former Administrator Vern Miyagi about repeated requests during planning sessions on the state's missile alert system to include a "deactivation section" after an alert is sent in case a missile is shot down or misses.

"Thought my request for a protocol was not based on a concern about human error, had the protocol been developed within the last two months, the delay yesterday would not have happened."

That same employee expressed serious concerns about state warning point protocols, saying that the employees charged with monitoring for disasters and sending out warnings should get better training and have greater duties.

"There is resistance to letting SWP do work other than monitoring to ensure they are not distracted. However, I believe this has created an environment without stimulation that leads to other types of distraction," the employee wrote.

"On multiple occasions, I've observed them watching movies or TV shows. Usually they are sitting around looking unoccupied. Approximately two weeks ago, it was reported to me by a staff member who came in early that they observed all three SWP staff on shift asleep."

The state set up the wireless emergency alert system for ballistic missile alerts amid rising tensions with North Korea and as part of a campaign to prepare residents for the possibility of a nuclear attack.

In the aftermath of the false missile alert, the employee who sent out the warning along with the two top leaders at the agency were out. The state also conducted a comprehensive review and pledged something similar would never happen again.

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