They were indeed manipulative men, but before they influenced other
Americans they assumedly underwent something like a process of
collective auto-hypnotism in which they convinced one another of the
dangers they needed the American people to believe in. There is
evidence that a similar process took place in the aftermath of 9/11.
From the flustered look on George W. Bush’s face as his plane took him
not toward but away from Washington on September 11, 2001, to the image of Dick Cheney, in those early months, being chauffeured
around Washington in an armored motorcade with a “gas mask and a
biochemical survival suit" in the backseat, you could sense that the
enemy loomed large and omnipresent for them. They were, that is,
genuinely scared, even if they were also ready to make use of that fear
for their own ends.