In June 2001, George Tenet (then Director of the CIA) told Richard Clarke, ‘it’s my sixth sense, but I feel it coming. This is going to be the big one’.
In truth, the events of 9/11 were a much more frightening attack than that which we saw on our television screens. There was an assassination attempt on President Bush that morning. Evidence points towards the fourth plane (that crashed in Shanksville) having been headed towards the Capitol, which was in session and not evacuated in time to have averted disaster. A fifth plane, due to be hijacked and used as a weapon, never got off the ground.
Instead of an attack on the Pentagon and two tall buildings that killed ‘just’ 3,000, 9/11 was a full-scale coup aimed at the decapitation of American government. The original plan involved the death of George W. Bush and dozens of congress-people and senators.
The Capitol attack would have left America’s political class devastated. Dick Cheney, the new President, would have declared martial law. America’s democracy would have functionally been ended, and we would still be living in a dystopian future, with American hegemony and worldwide war. Though it seems extraordinary to articulate it, in many ways 9/11 was a lucky escape. A cabal of political and military extremists within the US government staged the attack in order to change the world forever. That they mostly failed was more due to happenstance than anything else.
Although nearly sixteen years have passed and the cast of characters almost entirely changed, the strain of fascism and militarism within America’s deep state remains, and the party that has all-but abandoned even the pretense of patriotism and democracy has used every trick in the book to regain control.
America’s changing demography means that the Republican Party faces a choice—retain power through any means possible, or lose and die. This merely raises the stakes, given the powers now vested in the office of the President, and with a country that is on the point of collapse.
Trump has lost control of his legislative agenda and demonstrably lost control of his generals. He is a weak President, apparently suffering from degenerative cognitive loss. George W. Bush was in some ways similar – an imbecile with very limited mental capacity, surrounded by extremists with their own agendas to enact.
As we head towards the summer recess and Trump’s authority becomes increasingly tenuous, those holding real power know that terrorism and war remain the most powerful tools in their arsenal. Osama bin Laden may be gone, but there are plenty of other actors in the Middle East who could be blamed for a devastating attack on the US, providing yet another excuse for military conquest of carbon deposits, masquerading as war for self-preservation.
American society is on the brink, so indoctrinated and cowed by the concept of terrorism that in the event of another major attack, the government would not have to impose tyrannical measures on its people; the people would demand them for their own protection.
I feel it coming. This is going to be the big one.