Just hours after the terror attacks on 9/11/01, Hunter S. Thompson wrote an article for ESPN entitled “Fear & Loathing in America.” In it, he made some disturbingly accurate predictions, this one by far the most chilling:
“The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country. Make no mistake about it: We are At War now — with somebody — and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives. It will be a Religious War, a sort of Christian Jihad, fueled by religious hatred and led by merciless fanatics on both sides. It will be guerilla warfare on a global scale, with no front lines and no identifiable enemy.”
Though Thompson put the death toll for that day at 20,000 (I’m guessing based on flawed reports going around that day), I couldn’t help but wonder if the good doc, in his infinite, drugged-up wisdom, was alluding to the lives that would be lost because of what had happened that day. He goes on to say: “We are going to punish somebody for this attack, but just who or what will be blown to smithereens for it is hard to say. Maybe Afghanistan, maybe Pakistan or Iraq, or possibly all three at once.” Indeed, America has made its presence known in all three of those countries over the last 12 years, exact death tolls unknown.
We’re still fighting the last war (throwing Cold War money at countries that barely have electricity), still warding off the last attack (screening shoes and underwear at airports), still looking back in fear, but failing to avert the unavoidable. Domestic terror hit us again last week, and I don’t believe there could have been anything done to stop it. To limit its damage, yes (perhaps it could not have been so easy for those boys to obtain guns–thanks, Senate!), but ultimately we’ll always be At War with the sick minds among us.
When terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, no one knew exactly what the future would hold.
However, writer Hunter S. Thompson turned out to be amazingly prescient.
HST, in his essay hours after 9/11
It was just after dawn in Woody Creek, Colo., when the first plane hit the World Trade Center in New York City on Tuesday morning, and as usual I was writing about sports. But not for long. Football suddenly seemed irrelevant, compared to the scenes of destruction and utter devastation coming out of New York on TV.
Even ESPN was broadcasting war news. It was the worst disaster in the history of the United States, including Pearl Harbor, the San Francisco earthquake and probably the Battle of Antietam in 1862, when 23,000 were slaughtered in one day. The Battle of the World Trade Center lasted about 99 minutes and cost 20,000 lives in two hours (according to unofficial estimates as of midnight Tuesday). The final numbers, including those from the supposedly impregnable Pentagon, across the Potomac River from Washington, likely will be higher. Anything that kills 300 trained firefighters in two hours is a world-class disaster. And it was not even Bombs that caused this massive damage.
No nuclear missiles were launched from any foreign soil, no enemy bombers flew over New York and Washington to rain death on innocent Americans. No. It was four commercial jetliners. They were the first flights of the day from American and United Airlines, piloted by skilled and loyal U.S. citizens, and there was nothing suspicious about them when they took off from Newark, N.J., and Dulles in D.C. and Logan in Boston on routine cross-country flights to the West Coast with fully-loaded fuel tanks — which would soon explode on impact and utterly destroy the world-famous Twin Towers of downtown Manhattan’s World Trade Center.
Boom! Boom! Just like that. The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country. Make no mistake about it:
We are At War now — with somebody — and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives.
It will be a Religious War, a sort of Christian Jihad, fueled by religious hatred and led by merciless fanatics on both sides. It will be guerilla warfare on a global scale, with no front lines and no identifiable enemy. Osama bin Laden may be a primitive “figurehead” — or even dead, for all we know — but whoever put those All-American jet planes loaded with All-American fuel into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon did it with chilling precision and accuracy. The second one was a dead-on bullseye. Straight into the middle of the skyscraper. Nothing — even George Bush’s $350 billion “Star Wars” missile defense system — could have prevented Tuesday’s attack, and it cost next to nothing to pull off.
Fewer than 20 unarmed Suicide soldiers from some apparently primitive country somewhere on the other side of the world took out the World Trade Center and half the Pentagon with three quick and costless strikes on one day. The efficiency of it was terrifying. We are going to punish somebody for this attack, but just who or what will be blown to smithereens for it is hard to say. Maybe Afghanistan, maybe Pakistan or Iraq, or possibly all three at once. Who knows? Not even the Generals in what remains of the Pentagon or the New York papers calling for WAR seem to know who did it or where to look for them.
This is going to be a very expensive war, and Victory is not guaranteed — for anyone, and certainly not for anyone as baffled as George W. Bush. All he knows is that his father started the war a long time ago, and that he, the goofy child-President, has been chosen by Fate and the global Oil industry to finish it Now. He will declare a National Security Emergency and clamp down Hard on Everybody, no matter where they live or why. If the guilty won’t hold up their hands and confess, he and the Generals will ferret them out by force. Good luck. He is in for a profoundly difficult job — armed as he is with no credible Military Intelligence, no witnesses and only the ghost of Bin Laden to blame for the tragedy. OK. It is 24 hours later now, and we are not getting much information about the Five Ws of this thing. The numbers out of the Pentagon are baffling, as if Military Censorship has already been imposed on the media. It is ominous. The only news on TV comes from weeping victims and ignorant speculators. The lid is on. Loose Lips Sink Ships. Don’t say anything that might give aid to The Enemy.
Dr. Hunter S. Thompson‘s books include Hell’s Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72, The Proud Highway, Better Than Sex and The Rum Diary. His recent book, Fear and Loathing in America, has been released. A regular contributor to various national and international publications. Before his untimely death in 2005, Thompson lived in a fortified compound near Aspen, Colo. His column, “Hey, Rube,” appeared each Monday on Page 2.
Hunter S. Thompson’s Conspiratorial 9/11 Interview: “The Public Version of the News is Never Really What Happened”
Having read almost everything the prolific Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas author Hunter S. Thompson ever wrote, I don’t know if I would call him paranoid, per se. Nor do I know if I would call him not paranoid. He certainly trusted no entity with power, especially not governments, and really especially not the United States government. So by the time September 11, 2001 came around, he had little goodwill to spare for any of the major players involved in its aftermath.
A year later, Australia’s ABC Radio National got Thompson’s assessment of the situation. Host Mick O’Regan opens the now famous interview above by asking how he thought the U.S. media had performed in the new post-9/11 reality. “‘Shamefully’ is a word that comes to mind,” responds Thompson. “American journalism I think has been cowed and intimidated by the massive flag-sucking, this patriotic orgy that the White House keeps whipping up. You know if you criticise the President it’s unpatriotic and there’s something wrong with you, you may be a terrorist.” And does he think 9/11 “worked in favor of the Bush Administration?” For Thompson’s full answer, blogger Scratchingdog tracked down the original recording of the interview, not the edited version actually aired on ABC, and heard this:
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And I have spent enough time on the inside of, well, in the White House and you know, campaigns and I’ve known enough people who do these things, think this way, to know that the public version of the news or whatever event, is never really what happened. And these people I think are willing to take that even further, so I don’t assume that I know the truth of what went on that day, and yeah, just looking around and looking for who had the motive, who had the opportunity, who had the equipment, who had the will. Yeah, these people were looting the treasury and they knew the economy was going into a spiral downward.
9/11 conspiracy theorists have made much of this response and other Thompsonian analysis found in the unedited interview, going so far as to suggest that maybe — just maybe — the writer died three years later of something other than suicide. Given Thompson’s compulsion to speak truth to power, and sometimes to wave firearms around in front of it, any fan of his work can’t help but harshly scrutinize, and often pre-emptively dismiss, any and all “official stories” they happen to hear. We’ll never know whether Thompson would have approved of the “9/11 Truth” movement in the forms it has taken today, but they do share his spirit of creative distrust. And perhaps a touch of paranoia gave his writing its distinctive verve. Nobody moves into what they unfailingly describe as a “fortified compound,” after all, without at least a little bit of it.