"In the end, military decisions have to be made in cold blood," Pitney said. "Decisions made in the heat of anger are likely to be mistaken."
Not everyone is out for blind vengeance. Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) said her constituents have urged restraint. "It's a pretty consistent theme of caution, of not wanting us to respond out of revenge, but out of security," Capps said. "They hope we don't drop a lot of bombs right away."
Rep. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles) has noticed a calmer tone creeping into the voices of callers just since last week. "Initially, we saw a lot of people crying and people wringing their hands and saying, 'Oh goodness, what is befalling us?' " she said. "Now, people are taking the time to think things through, and then put them down on paper."
The goal now, say many in Washington, is to let reason prevail, even as bodies continue to be pulled from the rubble in New York and at the Pentagon.