Yet we only need to look the packaging of the event and its gargantuan aims to discover the guilty. Terror, as John le Carre' reminds us, is theater. It wasn't enough to ram the buildings with jetliners, counting on the quick reflexes of cameramen who might or might not catch the moment, and even then out of focus and poorly framed. And smoking skyscrapers, secretaries waving hankies from the windows -- what is that but the merest police-beat story? And afterwards, the fires put out, the buildings would have been repaired and businesses re-started.
No, airliners hitting buildings was not enough. For the aim was to give the tectonic plates of history a good old country shove and move America into a new era of fear at home and conquest abroad. Even at the terrible risk of detection, the buildings had to be destroyed, come crashing down live and in color, with fifty cameras rolling. That's theater. That's shoving history.
So if we want to look for culprits, let's ask: Who could combine such Hollywood showmanship with such Shakespearean ambition? Only the high mandarins of American foreign policy, many of them bitterly impatient in the late 90s with Bill Clinton's reluctance to take superpowerdom out of the garage and onto the open road. Who could recruit the right people, open the right doors, and quietly distribute the millions necessary? Only the most well-connected folks in the land. Who had the means, the organization, the local knowledge? The military and the security services. And that, sad to say, is as close as we'll ever get to naming 9-11's "intellectual authors."
But in a certain sense, it doesn't matter much. The guilt of 9-11 spreads across the entire nation, though certainly thicker in some places than others. As Vaclav Havel said at his inauguration as president of Czechoslovakia, "When I talk about the contaminated moral atmosphere...I am talking about all of us. We had all become used to the totalitarian system and accepted it as an unchangeable fact and thus helped to perpetuate it. In other words, we are all - though naturally to differing extents - responsible for the operation of the totalitarian machinery. None of us is just its victim. We are all also its co-creators...We have to accept this legacy as a sin we committed against ourselves."
Yes, the weasels of 9-11 -- a fitting name; let's use it -- have retired by now, protected by steel and electronics and, most important of all, the silence of their enablers. Some of the latter stay mum out of a dire patriotism -- "The nation needs to heal, sir." -- but surely most of them out of fear. I'm talking first about the guys who quietly wired the buildings, the guys who let them in and then went back to the sports report, the other guys who equipped them, and the accountants who noticed the missing stock and figured it must have been mice who ate it. Everyone kept their head down.