The prescient Hunter Thompson

On September 12, 2001, in the immediate aftermath of the events of what we now use the shorthand 9/11, the late gonzo journalist wrote what seems to be eerily prophetic.

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.

I am trying to recall that day and am surprised that the identity of Osama bin Laden as the mastermind and that this was a coordinated attack by 19 (not 20) Islamist plane hijackers from somewhere in the Middle East was known that quickly. I somehow had the idea that it took a little while for all that information to come out.


  1. says

    The full article sounds a lot less “prescient” than the bits you quoted — especially the “20000” figure. It certainly sounds creepy that he mentions Bin Laden; but his name and organization were at least as well known before that day as Hamas or Hezbollah.

    And the “Military Censorship” claim is a bit, um, vague…

  2. hyphenman says

    @Raging Bee, No. 1

    Remember, Thompson was writing hours after the attack and we would not know the full extent of the casualties for weeks or even months. I recall one estimate of 40,000 based on design occupancy of the towers.

    What Thompson got absolutely right—as many who were not swept up in the fear and hysteria of the days and weeks ending 2001—was our nation’s reaction. Here he was, sadly, dead on.


  3. dean says

    I don’t remember the rapid identification of Bin-Laden either, but there were a bunch of names tossed around so it’s quite likely his was among them. I do remember several announcers saying that since when they were full the number of employees in the towers was upwards of 50,000, so `tens of thousands’ of people could have been inside. I remember thinking `that many this early in the day?’ Luckily that’s how it turned out.

  4. floosh12345 says

    As soon as the second tower was hit, everyone with half a brain and paying attention knew it was Bin Laden.

  5. says

    Khalid Shayk Mohammed is Ramzi Yousef’s uncle. Ramzi was the brains behind the 1993 WTC bombing.

    Bin Laden published his declaration(s) of war against the US in newspapers in the UK, which got them on the “radar screen” and al qaeda were one of the odds-on most-likely suspects immediately after 9/11 because of the USS Cole bombing, which was one of a series of planned attacks. The president’s daily brief in August 2001 included intelligence that Bin Laden was preparing to strike the US.

    So, there was a big finger pointing at Bin Laden, and some neon lights, but the establishment was actually pretty reasonable in checking attribution before blaming al qaeda.

  6. Mano Singham says

    I am sure that people in the government had the information to zero in on bin Laden pretty quickly but I don’t recall the name being given out to the general public as the person behind the attack that quickly, within 24 hours. But I could be wrong.

  7. lochaber says

    I’ve never followed political stuff too closely, and especially then wouldn’t have even recognized the names Bin Laden or Al Queda.

    But I did have a couple friends who were more informed from me suspect Bin Laden being behind 9/11 shortly after it happened.

    So, I imagine it’s rather unlikely, but some people were following information that would cause them to immediately suspect Bin Laden.

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