Maximized Psychological Impact
Intents of the Perpetrators
The September 11th attacks appeared to be engineered to maximize the psychological impact on Americans, while limiting the fatalities to a few thousand individuals.
Shock and Awe
The expression "Shock and Awe" was officially adopted to describe the opening strategy of the 2003 attack on Iraq. Although it didn't seem to impress Iraqis, it worked brilliantly in the 9-11 incident, where its creators couldn't claim credit for it. Not only did it provide the Bush administration a pretext to attack Afghanistan, it also provided the justification for virtually removing itself from accountability to the people, and empowering itself to arrest and detain anyone of its choosing. But arrest and detention have not been necessary to win most people's silent consent (or even vocal approval) for any action deemed necessary by the government in the War on Terror. The psychological trauma, together with the mass media's refusal to air the difficult questions, has proven quite sufficient.
The many facts and myths of the 9-11 attack had the quality of a movie script. These range from timing and selection of targets to the many unverified details related by the media. For example.
- The date, 9-11, mimics the emergency response number 911.
- The targets were three of the largest, most unique, and most famous buildings in the world; with special meaning for Americans. The Twin Towers and the Pentagon were symbols of American economic and military might.
- Several memorable sentences in this tragic drama filled out the human side of the story:
- The ominous overheard boast of the hijackers of Flight 11: "We have more planes."
- The heartstring-pulling last words of Madeline Sweeney: "I see buildings, water … Oh my God!"
- The rallying cry of the heroes of Flight 93: "Let's roll."
- The attacks on New York City made for spectacular footage. The duel aircraft impacts insured that the cameras would be rolling for the second impact, whose off-centered impact produced particularly impressive fireballs.
- People jumping to their deaths from 100 stories, a predictable consequence of the North Tower impact, left an unforgettable poignant image of the victims' plight.
- Each installment in the unfolding story was more incredible than the last. As people were reeling from the inconceivable attack on the Pentagon, the culminating shockers of the skyscraper collapses started.
- The huge dust clouds of the exploding South Tower made people run for their very lives, ever so reminiscent of volcano disaster movies.
- The snuffing out of the lives hundreds of brave emergency responders left Americans with numerous genuine heroes.
- The "crash" of Flight 93 left its target a matter of speculation, letting people imagine scenarios like a smoking hole in place of the Capitol dome, with hundreds of senators and representatives dead.
Could people's conditioning to suspend disbelief when watching disaster movies be a factor in their unwillingness to confront such oddities of 9-11 as: the unexplained collapses of WTC 1, 2, and 7; or the suspension of standard operating procedures, which would normally have protected New York City and Washington from such an attack?