Missile alerts, nuclear weapons, public alerts | Homeland Security Newswire

Missile launch alertsLawmakers want to give the federal government the sole responsibility for missile alerts

Published 8 February 2018

Following the false emergency alert that went out across Hawai‘i on 13 January and caused widespread panic, U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), Kamala Harris (D-California), and Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) introduced the Authenticating Local Emergencies and Real Threats (ALERT) Act, legislation that would improve the emergency alert system and give the federal government the sole responsibility of alerting the public of a missile threat, prohibiting state and local governments from doing so.

Following the false emergency alert that went out across Hawai‘i on 13 January and caused widespread panic, U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), Kamala Harris (D-California), and Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) introduced the Authenticating Local Emergencies and Real Threats (ALERT) Act, legislation that would improve the emergency alert system and give the federal government the sole responsibility of alerting the public of a missile threat, prohibiting state and local governments from doing so.

“States are laboratories of democracy. They should not be the laboratories of missile alerts,” said Senator Schatz, the ranking member on the Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet. “The people who know first should be the people who tell the rest of us. This legislation makes clear that the authority to send missile alerts rests with the federal government.”

“This is a common-sense step to ensure that accurate national security information is used to assess whether or not an emergency alert about a missile threat should be deployed,” said Senator Harris. “It will also ensure that state and local governments continue to play a critical role in emergency response efforts, and provide the federal government with the ability to make missile alerts a more effective public safety tool.”

“Our national integrated public alert system is not something we can afford to get wrong,” said Senator Gardner. “What happened in Hawaii can never happen again - people terrified by the false alert of a system that must have absolute confidence. We need to make sure we have safe and reliable protocols in place that quickly alert Americans about serious threats, whether those threats be fast-moving wildfires or actual ballistic missile launches from rogue states like North Korea. Since they have full control over drafting and issuing alerts, state and local governments need to meet certain standards to participate in our national alert system and the Federal government must be heavily involved in any alerts regarding national security crises. We need to continue to do everything in our power to prevent the worst from happening and that includes being prepared for the worst.”