Everyone Is Googling This Plot to Nuke NYC

April 24th 2017

If the unthinkable took place and a nuclear bomb went off in New York City, a calm and well-rehearsed initial response would be vital in terms of treating the wounded, evacuating survivors, and fostering inter-agency communication. 

That's the thinking behind "Gotham Shield," a disaster drill that started Monday. It involves federal and state agencies practicing what they would do in the immediate aftermath of a nuclear explosion over the New York City area. It's got residents buzzing — and conspiracy theorists speculating that the government is going to use the drill as cover for something terrible.

The Jersey Journal describes the exercise as "a response drill to a nuclear explosion in the New York/New Jersey area... in which emergency responders respond theoretically to an unfolding nuclear event scenario in which all levels of government are in communication and playing a role."

As FEMA's website puts it, "Exercises are a key component of National Preparedness System; they provide officials and stakeholders across the whole community with the opportunity to assess and validate capabilities, improve coordination, and identify areas for improvement and strengths."

However, since the September 11 attacks, the confluence of terrorist attacks and preparedness drills has become a focal point for conspiracy theorists. They see disaster drills as convenient covers for "false flag" attacks, or violent acts perpetrated by the government and blamed on terrorists as an excuse for declaring war or taking away rights. After all, the authorities are conveniently there to run the attack, people are lulled into thinking a drill is going on, and "crisis actors" are standing by to play fake victims. 

To conspiracy theorists, Gotham Shield is the latest drill that might be something more, and the level of interest in the exercise has caused a massive spike in Google searches.

Gotham Shield searchesGoogle Trends

According to conspiracy theorists, Gotham Shield is actually a cover for several different possible false flags, including:

There have been a few such exercises that have taken place before a major attack in the last two decades, but where conspiracy theorists err is concluding that these coincidences form a pattern. These drills are extremely common and have only become more frequent in the last few years as fears over home-grown terrorism have spiked. One New York paper counted over 600 drills in the state in just 2016 — that some would take place on the same day as terrorist incident, for example, is no surprise.

For every drill or exercise that has happened to coincide with a terror attack, countless more took place without incident, including the famed Jade Helm 15, which dominated conspiracy chatter for much of 2015; it amounted to nothing.

The Gotham Shield conspiracy mongering is also built on a number of factual and logical errors, not the least of which is that North Korea has no known way to hit New York with a missile. But until the drill finishes up, expect conspiracy theorists to keep digging and searching, looking to uncover what's "really" going on — and trying to make the rest of us afraid.

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