By: Nicholas Stewart
On the morning of January 13, 2018, at 8:07 a.m., a message was sent out by the state’s emergency management agency, “Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii.” Everyone on the island was led to believe for 38 minutes that there were missiles coming towards the islands. Then finally after the message was found to be false another message was sent out explaining that it was actually a false alarm. Obviously, a very horrible mistake that put a lot of fear into a lot of families that were fearing that January 13th could have been the last day of their lives.
This false alarm comes at a very high-tension time when there are talks and threats occurring between the United States and North Korea over nuclear warfare. President Trump and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, have had numerous exchanges over social media in regards to nuclear warfare and the threats they hold. For example, early in January Trump tweeted about Kim Jong Un, saying, “Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger and more powerful one than his and my button works!” This all shows how President Trump has created drama and stirred up situations with his twitter and social media antics. This is one of the reasons why the threat was felt by so many people as being so credible because, in many Americans eyes, North Korea could possibly send missiles towards the United States at some point, especially with their leader being so radical. All of this brings back remnants of the Cold War when there was nuclear tension between the United States and the Soviet Union.
After an investigation was conducted, Governor David Ige stated that the mistake can be attributed to a state employee accidentally pushing a button. This has then caused an investigation into why a mistake this distract could have happened. The mistake occurred when a shift change was happening during the normal procedure. A new rule, as a result of this event, has been put in place that two people must be present in order to push the button and issue the alert. Another change in the procedure is that a Cold War-style siren system was put back into effect to better alert the public if a missile was incoming. This adds to the system that was already being utilized which sent out the alerts through various forms of technical communication. When the button is pushed, text messages go out as well as e-mails and messages pop up on the television screen.
President Trump was on a golf course at Mar-a-Lago when the alert came in and upon correcting the situation he tweeted out about the “fake news” as well as to call out author Michael Wolff for criticizing the president in his newest book. Pictures were later released of people trying to flee the island or find the safest area to seek shelter. People were flocking to parking garages, police stations and even instances such as steel containers on their property in order to try and shield themselves from what they thought were incoming missiles.