The Official Response to the Attack
The aftershocks of the attack began immediately and continue to reverberate. So did its exploitation, primarily as a pretext for wholesale violations of civil liberties, the disappearance of government accountability, and a series of invasions of Central and West Asian countries.
On the day of the attack the television networks suspended normal programming and began wall-to-wall 24-hour "coverage" that would last a week, filling out the script of Osama bin Laden as mastermind of the attack with lots of background stories about Islamic terror. The networks' coverage of Ground Zero was framed almost exclusively as a human interest story of the tragedy of lost life and the rescue operation that soldiered on with "hope against hope." Questions about the plausibility of the official explanation of the collapses and about what officials were doing with the evidence of this vast crime went unasked.
On September 13th the White House announced that there was "overwhelming evidence" that bin Laden was behind the attacks. 1
Shutdowns and Evacuations
Evacuations of large buildings in major cities around the nation started soon after the towers in New York started crumbling. This clearly helped to bolster the psychological impact of the attack.
A shutdown in civil aviation went into effect on the morning of September 11th. Takeoffs were forbidden, and all aircraft in the air were ordered to land, in most cases at airports that were not their destinations. Starting September 13th certain charter jets were quietly allowed to fly, picking up members of the bin Laden family and spiriting them out of the country.
The Bush Administration submitted the 342-page USA PATRIOT Act to Congress on September 24th, 2001, just 13 days after the attack. Other legislation would follow, but most of the policies enacted in the name of the War on Terror would be accomplished through executive orders.
Two Senators who attempted to slow the passage of the PATRIOT Act received letters containing Anthax.