The test of the Presidential Alert system went off without a hook yesterday. As Vox points out, the system is essentially a wireless version of the Emergency Broadcast System. Meant to clue us into any potential disasters, natural or otherwise. So, in theory, it can’t be abused any more than that. It’s been in development for years, but I think it gives all of us pause that a “Presidential” Alert system has been put in place during the Trump Administration.
“You would not have a situation where any sitting president would just wake up one morning and attempt to send a person a message,” FEMA official Antwane Johnson said on a call with reporters this week, according to Axios. “The system is very well-governed and rooted in law in terms of its intended use.”
So, he’s probably not gonna be able to text us about the Fake News Media like That Uncle You Put Up With. But, as we all know with Trump, if there’s no rule in the book…
Three New York residents (as Lysander posted in Wednesday’s thread) have sued Trump and FEMA to keep him from sending the alert. The point here, is that while it’s not harmless, in theory, and Trump can’t technically text us whenever he wants, it’s that he could abuse what’s considered an emergency. Essentially, because the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) doesn’t regualate the content of the messages, Trump would be free to define an emergency or an act of terrorism however he sees fit. So yeah, Trump gaslightting the country from to election to beyond is not out of the realm of possibility.
What happens now remains to be seen, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned is that Trump has no qualms about bending or breaking any tools at his disposal to get what he wants, regardless of the consequences. Our national emergency system is in place for a reason, if he abuses it and the people lose faith in it, then every threat natural and human will make any sort of response far less effective.
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