The Unknown Ethics Hero Of The Hawaii False Alarm Fiasco

The story of the day was that this…

went out to cellphones across Hawaii on Saturday, setting off widespread panic .

Oopsie!  Nearly 40 minutes after it was issued, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency cancelled the alert, which was a false alarm. The explanation was that somebody pushed the wrong button during a shift changeover.

“The public must have confidence in our emergency alert system,” the Aloha State’s governor, David Y. Ige, said. “I am working to get to the bottom of this so we can prevent an error of this type in the future.” Then, as he appeared on live TV answering questions from a reporter, a small, thin, middle-aged man standing with the governor said (I am quoting from memory),

“This was my responsibility. It should not have happened,  and we will be making sure this cannot happen again, and will make certain that a new system is installed that requires two separate human verifications before a warning is sent out.”


In the TV studios, everyone was stunned. Did they actually see a government employee accept accountability for a screw up in front of cameras? They did: I  saw it with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears. Even as the TV reporters were discussing the obvious issues raised by the fiasco—like why did it take so long to determine that it was a false alarm—they kept coming back to the Butch Cassidy-like question: Who is that guy? Everyone agreed that this was integrity and courage personified. We virtually never see anyone do what he did so publicly and unequivocally; nobody could recall a similar example.

I sure can recall examples of high-profile government officials, past and present, doing the opposite, though.

Last I checked, the name of the state official had not been determined. Until it is, at least, here at Ethics Alarms he will be known as The Unknown Ethics Hero.

Oh, but Democrats knew who really was at fault for a button being pushed by accident setting off a state warning system. President Trump! Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii)  got on the phone to CNN, Fox News and other networks to announce that it was all the President’s fault for not immediately agreeing to give something of value to North Korea for repeatedly threatening to nuke us, or Guam, or Japan. “Donald Trump is taking too long,” she told CNN. “He’s not taking this threat seriously! There’s no time to waste!

In other words, “ARRGH! Do something! Anything! We’re afraid! Do whatever they want!”

Hawaiian Democrats must be so proud.

The Unknown Ethics Hero for Congress!

Hell, The Unknown Ethics Hero for President.

UPDATE: Mystery solved! The Unknown Ethics Hero is now known: he is Vern Miyagi, head of Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency. And, as I’m sure he expected, he is now being roundly mocked and attacked in the news media. He is a retired United States Army major general with over 37 years service.

Much thanks to crella for the intelligence.


Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, Leadership

23 responses to “The Unknown Ethics Hero Of The Hawaii False Alarm Fiasco

  1. Rick M

    I remember a similar incident back in the early 1970s where a false alarm came through. I was living in Weymouth Massachusetts right across from the Weymouth Naval Air Station. I just sat out in my deck and waited for the Bomb Blast. At that point I figured I had maybe 30 minutes and no matter what I did I was going to be screwed.

  2. I think Hawaiians established a precedent for how to react to surprise attacks decades ago. I only hope their reaction was as robust.

  3. Chris marschner

    I said bravo when I saw the man take total responsibility.

  4. JRH

    And right up to that point I was a fan of Representative Gabbard. Every time I’ve seen her on TV she seemed so calm and made her point clearly and succinctly. Sad, although she does vote with her party just about down the line. Just a day ago however, she was one of the few who wanted to change the FISA law to further protect citizens, voting against the elitists in both Parties. But I guess I give too much slack to fellow Veterans now & then.

  5. crella

    ‘Critics went after Trump for being at his Trump International Golf Course in Florida when the false alarm alert was sent out on Saturday.’

    So now they expect Trump to have ESP?

    Could it have been Vern Miyagi, the administrator for Hawaii emergency management?

  6. Here's Johnny

    Some observations and questions regarding the Hawaii alert fiasco:
    It is not surprising that Myagi, as head of the agency, would accept responsibility; that kind of accountability is drilled into military commanders throughout their careers.

    The wrong button was pushed? I’ve seen a few accounts using the term button, when apparently the alert was sent out as a result of a person entering information into a computer. Was the word ‘button’ used because of recent use of that word by Kim and Trump? An attempt by some news media to heighten the fear of nuclear war by merely pushing a button?

    Was the alert really sent in error? Or, was it intentional by someone trying to stir up more fear and anxiety (which seems to be one of the ‘resistance’ tactics, aided and abetted by the news media)? I did not see any reports pursuing this line of thought. There was a report that the person who sent the false alert had to perform two separate steps, requesting the alert and then confirming the request, which would seem to lessen the chance of an accidental false alert. Perhaps the investigation will reveal more, perhaps not.

    • There are several conspiracy theories, including one that there WAS a missile, it was shot down, and the rest is a cover-up.
      In such situations, Occam’s Razor is best kept in mind, as well as Hanlon’s.

      • Joe Fowler

        Occam’s and Hanlon’s Razors should be kept well in mind, but this case may be extreme enough that Grey’s Law also applies:
        “Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.”
        When Grey’s Law is in play, the conspiracy theories fly.

      • Here's Johnny

        I don’t know whether incompetence or malice is the simpler explanation, but the fact that it was difficult to undo the false alert leads me to believe that the system for initiating an alert was considered to be idiot-proof. (And that may indicate incompetence at a different level.)

  7. dragin_dragon

    I wonder if Mr. Miyagi teaches karate…or raises banzai trees? Or owns a couple of vintage cars?

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