Just thought I’d post this as it is by far the most sought after article by Hunter, with many people contacting me on a regular basis about it. While this may be Hunter’s immediate take on 9/11, I would recommend that you also read the rest of Hunter’s ESPN column as it regularly addresses the War on Terror as it unfolded in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in America. Looking back on the events now, Hunter’s column makes for chilling reading.
Fear and Loathing in America
It was just after dawn in Woody Creek, Colorado, 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.
7 thoughts on “Fear and Loathing in America – Hunter S. Thompson on 9/11”
Hunter was frighteningly accurate in his assessment. Few others had the foresight and awareness to know where we’d end up.
I wonder, as we all do, just what HST would think of everything as it is today…
Thanks for this. Having just squeaked past the anniversary without a bloody riot at the “Mosque at Ground Zero” I don’t think Hunter would be surprised at all with the absurdity we see in our country nearly-a-decade later. He always saw it clearer than most. I recently compiled some footage for a never-released Thomson film on my page. The video is called The Crazy Never Die and it features Thompson on an ’80’s era college lecture-tour.
Enjoy! Here’s the link:
This was a great piece of writing… His ESPN columns, I thought, were a bit hit-and-miss, but this was certainly one of the finest things he wrote in his final years.
Hi Joe, yeah I posted that video on here too. I’ve only eve seen a few VHS copies floating around until I found it online.
He had that quality of greatness to such a degree that it seems he was most perceptive and prescient when he was under his greatest stress. He had to get his first thoughts out immediately, and now, all these years later, they are proving 100% accurate.