The Plague!

While trolling usenet looking for strange documentaries, I found exactly that. This piece is very odd: it’s a 30 minute video of a news desk practicing for an all out terror attack on the US (featuring real news guy Forrest Sawyer). They are imagining that someone deployed the black plague in New Jersey, detonated a suicide bomb, and used a plane to deliver chemicals to civilians in Connecticut, with thousands of dead and injured. It features experts, eyewitnesses, and reporters in the field, and it seems like everyone is improvising, as you can kind of sense people making stuff up when pressed during questioning.

It’s 81Mb and I have no idea who did it or why, but it’s clearly just a drill, and a weird one at that. It’s on my blogtorrent server

(sidenote to server geeks: if anyone’s gotten server-side seeding to work in the new blogtorrent beta, let me know — I’m getting python script errors when I try it.)

Published by mathowie

I build internet stuff.

6 replies on “The Plague!”

  1. The CT portion of the drill took place in my hometown, New London. It was a real snoozefest. Except for one blocked off intersection and the protestors in front of the local hospital, it was just like any other day. The drill took place in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood, which you may recall as the center of a recent Supreme Court case regarding eminent domain. Since most of the houses in that neighborhood have been razed and the ongoing court case has stalled any redevelopment, it’s quite barren there. So they were able to hold their drill with the majority of NL barely noticing.
    In the end, they basically proved that, when you’re notified of a surprise attack 2 months in advance, you can handle it pretty gracefully. After the first day, even the protestors realized it was just a PR stunt and took the rest of the week off.
    Anyway, as part of the drill, they created a fake news network called VNN, to, uh, test their ability to get a terrorist attack reported in the news or something. I had heard that they got some real-life journalists involved in that effort, but hadn’t known who or seen the results of it until now.


  2. The TOPOFF exercises have been held since 2000. The name means TOP OFFicials and the point is more about coordination and policy/procedure than anything else; it’s supposed to be mostly invisible to the public. I think VNN is supposed to be there to keep the officials on their toes as far as having to answer unpredictable questions and trying and (sometimes) failing to get out the intended message to the various parties, while also serving as a source of evolving information about the simulated disasters to the officials themselves. By all accounts TOPOFF 3 was massive by comparison to anything done before, e.g. this time involving the disaster preparedness network of all hospitals in New Jersey.
    Put it this way. Congress mandated the tests, and they’re performed more as a learning exercise than a PR stunt. There’s a whole raft of after-event reports that have to be filed and they seem to have based some system improvements on gaps they found during the last two.


  3. So, this is an unauthorized leak of a semi-secret event? And these VNN reports were used to supply the officials with mass media reporting throughout the exercise?
    Hey, that’s pretty cool.


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