Hawaii Emergency Agency Worker Says Was Sure Attack Was Real

ASSOCIATED PRESS           A screen shot of the bogus missile alert sent to cell phones across Hawaii on Jan. 13

ASSOCIATED PRESS A screen shot of the bogus missile alert sent to cell phones across Hawaii on Jan. 13

"I'm really not to blame in this", the man, whose identity was masked, said on camera. "It's just a big failure of the system".

A Hawaiian state worker who sent a false incoming missile alert last month says he is devastated for causing mass panic, but was 100% sure it was real.

"I heard: 'This is not a drill.' I didn't hear 'exercise" at all.

The man, who has asked to remain anonymous, told ABC News, "I did what I was trained to do" by "making the selection to notify the public". But he added that he himself had been having a "very difficult" time in the wake of the incident, including getting death threats.

"I feel very badly for what's happened - the panic, the stress people felt, all the hurt and pain". "I feel bad about it. It's been very hard", he added.

All mobile phones, TV and radio stations on the islands were sent the alert, which read: "Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii". The supervisor posed as a military official and played a message that warned workers of a fake threat that included the phrase "exercise", three times, as well as the "this is not a drill", language that would be used during a real alert.

But the missile drill mistake was not the officer's first mishap, authorities said. The man said he did not hear the beginning of the message that said "exercise, exercise, exercise". State officials have said other workers clearly heard the word "exercise" repeated several times. Gen. Bruce Oliveira of the Hawaii National Guard. Unlike previous exercises, this one was unannounced and happened when there was no supervisor present, he said.

Oliveira, who retired from the Hawaii National Guard as brigadier general, also told reporters, "When it became apparent that the real-world alert was issued", the employee who sent it out "seemed confused, he froze and another employee had to take over his responsibilities".

The former state employee responsible for sending out the emergency ballistic missile alert that froze the state of Hawaii for 38 minutes last month said that he felt awful about what happened. He said he saw a doctor for sleep issues.

The US state had been testing its alert capabilities on 13 January when the Emergency Management Agency staff member got the wrong end of the stick. Officials did not correct it for an agonizing 38 minutes.

A preliminary investigation by the FCC, which oversees all USA wireless alert systems, found the system for activating a missile alert and conducting emergency drills was deeply flawed, lacking sufficient clarity, fail-safe controls or even a pre-programmed way of issuing a false alarm notice to the public.

"When the phone call came in, someone picked up the receiver instead of hitting speaker phone so that everyone could hear the message", he said.

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