News Release from Office of Rep. Gene Ward.
Rep. Gene Ward (R-Hawaii Kai, Kalama Valley) wrote a letter to Governor David Ige putting forth the questions he was not given an opportunity to ask in the Legislative Hearing held at the State Capitol Auditorium on January 19, 2018.
Ward’s letter noted, “I was not allowed to ask you any questions in last Friday’s hearing because my last name started with “W” and you left the hearing after 38 minutes, the exact same period of time the people of Hawaii were traumatized by the January 13th’s false missile attack alarm.
“Your early departure connoted the amount of concern you gave this subject — more akin to a budget hearing rather than a total breakdown of communications with the people of Hawaii. I am also of the opinion that the Chairman of the hearing was not seriously interested in having a detailed Information Briefing into the Missile Alert Fiasco when the period allotted was just a 2-hour time slot at the Capitol Auditorium for you and three of your Generals. This was a matter of serious national interest and it was treated with less attention than a hearing on homelessness at the Capitol.
Ward asked a number of questions to the Governor and then ended his letter with a warning about a possible conflict of interest:
Lastly, I raise the issue of conflict of interest if you expect the people of Hawaii to believe your final report when it is being written by General Hara, who is too close to the situation at HI-EMA, a close personal friend of General Miyagi and under the command of General Logan. According to the Department of Defense, General Logan serves as the Director of the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency, so how can he be evaluated by his Deputy Director, General Hara? How can he investigate his boss and colleague General Miyagi and his assigned responsibilities at HI-EMA in an objective manner?”
Dear Governor Ige,
January 22, 2018
I was not allowed to ask you any questions in last Friday’s hearing because my last name started with “W” and you left the hearing after 38 minutes. Two pretty lame excuses, unless of course you and the Chair were attempting to send a message that 38 minutes is what you want to be remembered for.
My point is you were too easily dismissed by the Chairman to be responsible to the people of Hawaii to answer legislators’ questions. Your early departure connoted the amount of concern you gave this subject — more akin a budget hearing rather than a total breakdown of communications with the people of Hawaii. I am also of the opinion that the Chairman of the hearing was not seriously interested in having a detailed Information Briefing into the Missile Alert Fiasco when the period allotted was just a 2-hour time slot at the Capitol Auditorium for you and three of your Generals. This was a matter of serious national interest and it was treated with less attention than a hearing on homelessness at the Capitol.
I’m writing this follow-up letter to you today not only because I could not ask you any questions in last Friday’s Hearing, but also because the people of Hawaii did not receive the detailed answers they deserve. Until those answer are provided, the images of a father putting his daughter in a sewer manhole for protection and UH students fleeing for their lives on campus, and a constituent of mine having a heart attack, will be indelibly linked to the future credibility and trust of your Administration.
I trust you are prepared to regain the confidence of the people of Hawaii and you could certainly begin that by promptly answering this letter.
Below are questions I would have asked you as a member of the House Committee on Veterans, Military, & International Affairs, & Culture and the Arts, plus a few others as new information has been forthcoming since the hearing:
My opening statement: Thank you Governor Ige for being here, but more important, taking responsibility for what I have called the Missile Alert Fiasco. You have said the “buck stops here” and should be commended for this (as President Trump did on national TV) but regardless of how many “mea culpas” or “kala mais” you constantly repeat, there are simply too many unanswered questions to accept your apologies and promise of “never again.”.
(Some of the questions below were asked in my January 15 letter to the Governor and I will paraphrase them with the other questions I was intending to ask at the Hearing.)
- First, Governor Ige, how can the emergency alert system you set up issue an official “live” missile alert without first getting permission from PACOM? PACOM is the only authority that knows there is a missile threat. How can you override that with your so-called drill when your message of January 13 did not say it was one?
- Is there a protocol from PACOM that has to first signal to you that the state is actually under a missile threat before you send out an alert? If not, why not? Your button should not be allowed to be pushed without this clearance protocol, so why was it? Did you discuss this with your software vendor and allow a single individual to make the determination on his own? How this has been explained so far borders on incompetence of personnel or a ‘Rube Goldberg’ software system for which we should get our money back.
- Because there are so many gaps in time and knowledge of what precisely happened on the morning of January 13, I requested in my January 15 letter to you what I called a “forensic tour” of the HI-EMA facilities so legislators can fully understand what happened on the morning of January 13, 2018. Will you organize and allow your generals to conduct such a tour so legislators will be able to explain exactly what happened to their constituents?
Now what follows are the questions that I asked to Generals Logan and Miyagi in your absence. This includes the partial questions I asked and others that I was not allowed to ask.
QUESTION 1: CAN WE KICK THE TIRES OF HI-EMA?: I basically asked the same question as above to General Logan about HI-EMA organizing a “forensic tour” of HI-EMA and a walk through of the events of the morning of January 13. General Logan gave a vague “yes” with a bit of dancing between the need for transparency and how a study by General Hara will have details available that Legislators can see. Your answer to this question will be more important than his response to date.
QUESTION 2: “MOTHER MAY I” FROM FEMA REQUIRED: I then asked General Logan if he, you, or General Miyagi had said that HI-EMA had to ask FEMA for permission to retract the message that was incorrectly sent out? While he was answering this question, KHON reporter Gina Mangieri shook her head at his response because she had spoken with FEMA and was told that no such permission or clearance was required by them — some misinformation initially put out by your Administration suggesting that Hawaii had to do a “mother may I” with FEMA before retracting your false alarm. General Miyagi stepped up to the microphone and fell on his sword on this one.
Unfortunately, before I got beyond General Miyagi’s “HI-EMA Mea Culpa” — I was cut off by the Chairman as I was in the process of asking General Miyagi: “If you were still on active duty during the January 13 events and they occurred on your watch and under your supervision, what would your response be to what happened regarding personnel, and what would your commanding Generals likely do to you after how you handled this event?”
So, will heads roll, Governor? Sometimes the most honorable thing is for those in error is to remove themselves.
GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY I WOULD HAVE ALSO ASKED A RHETORICAL QUESTION WITH A TOUCH OF LEVITY: Mr. Chairman, may I call Gina Mangieri of KHON TV to the stand? She appears to know more about this event and what went wrong than most people in this room. (I knew he would object to this suggestion, though as a former reporter himself, the Chair might appreciate the intent.)
But let the facts be known, Gina Mangeri has uncovered a number of half-truths that put HI-EMA in a very unfavorable light, particularly noting that FEMA did not have to give permission to HI-EMA to retract the Missile Alert, and that the so-called “wrong click of the mouse” on a single screen, turns out to be a series of screens and a series of clicks required as uncovered by Ms. Mangeri.
THE LAST QUESTION WAS TO ASK GENERAL LOGAN ABOUT THE FCC COMING TO HAWAII AND THIS HEARING: Who was responsible for the 3 FCC members being here today? Did you invite them, or did the Federal Government see fit to intervene, or perceive we needed outside help and could NOT do this on our own?
So Governor Ige, thank you for the opportunity to ask these questions to you, albeit some days later but nonetheless still as important and in print.
As earlier stated, I am disappointed that you and your Generals did not spend more time with us. I am very curious about what was on your schedule, on Friday morning, January 19 that did not allow you to stay longer than 38 minutes in the hearing. I and a few others are interested to learn of what kept you from answering further questions.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST:
Lastly, I raise the issue of conflict of interest if you expect the people of Hawaii to believe your final report when it is being written by General Hara, who is too close to the situation at HI-EMA, a close personal friend of General Miyagi and under the command of General Logan. According to the Department of Defense, General Logan serves as the Director of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, so how can he be evaluated by his Deputy Director, General Hara? How can he investigate his boss and colleague General Miyagi and his assigned responsibilities at HI-EMA in an objective manner?
General Hara is an honorable man, but may I suggest you work with the Legislature in forming an investigative panel to ensure the objectivity of this report and that it is received with the highest credibility. The way it is currently structured looks to incestuous and unobjective.
Thank you ahead of time for responding to these questions I have posed to you and your Generals. I trust the nature of this subject and its importance to the people of Hawaii will be reason to answer these questions in an expeditious manner. Mahalo.
Rep. Gene Ward, Member
House Committee on Veterans, Military, & International Affairs, & Culture and the Arts
EDITORS NOTE: Gene R. Ward is an American politician and a Republican member of the Hawaii House of Representatives since January 2007 representing District 17. He currently serves as the Minority Floor Leader.