The following column was written by a man who is a community columnist at The Dallas Morning News. I've had a similar gig with DMN for the past year, meaning whenever something pops into my head to write about, I submit a column to be printed. The author of this column is an airline pilot who encountered two of the 9/11 highjackers in August of 2001. They were on one of his flights. This is fascinating reading, and it stares right into the face of all of the 9/11 Commission members and reporters who would blame George W. Bush and his administration for not "stopping" 9/11. - - - - - - - - - - - - - Mike Standefer: Warning signs clear only in hindsight 12:01 AM CDT on Saturday, April 17, 2004 By MIKE STANDEFER One morning in early August 2001, I was the first officer aboard a 757 departing Boston's Logan International Airport. As I pushed through the jetway door and into the gate area to get my flight plan, I noticed three men. They had backed the ticket agent up against the wall and, in heavily accented and sometimes broken English, were demanding a first-class upgrade. As I approached, the man in the middle stopped talking and began to stare. His appearance was Middle Eastern. I am 6 feet, 5 inches tall. Sometimes, people stare at my height. Sometimes, they stare because I am a pilot. I know those stares. This wasn't one of them. The man on his right didn't stare. I was almost taken aback by his humbleness as he quickly looked away. He was heavyset with glasses and thinning hair. The third man was small and nondescript. I looked back to the first man. His gaze still was fixed on me, colder and more intense than before. After addressing the ticket agent, I turned to go back to my craft. The man in the middle now was leering at me, but he was a customer, and I assumed he just wasn't happy that first class was full. I did a complete and thorough preflight, just as I do every day, with maybe a few closer looks for anything unusual. Then I greeted the boarding passengers. Through the door came the three men. The man in the middle still was staring at me, only more intense. At one point, he craned his neck to see what the captain was doing in the cockpit. The heavyset man, now sitting across the aisle, extended his arm, much as a mother would do to a misbehaving child, and put his traveling companion back in his seat. I rhetorically asked one of the flight attendants, "What is this guy's problem?" I checked his name against the manifest. It was a Middle Eastern surname and the same as the heavyset man next to him. We flew to our destination. When the men deplaned, "the man in the middle" looked over his shoulder to stare daggers all the way. About a month later, that man went into the north tower of the World Trade Center. His brother and roommate went into the south tower. I called the FBI and told my story. I was able to identify the men from their mug shots. I couldn't sleep for a while. I would love to tell you that I have superhuman powers that help me to identify bad men. But I don't. That day back in August 2001, I reacted as a mere mortal. I reacted as any American would have in that situation. At that time. If you want someone to blame for 9-11, here I am. But while you are blaming, please be real with me and yourself about how things were that summer. Hindsight is 20-20. Don't wait on me for an apology, because, like most Americans, I can feel sorry about 9-11 without apologizing for it. If only we could point a finger and find a culprit, we could place blame in a neat little package, where we wouldn't have to deal with it. In 26 years of voting, I have voted for both Democrats and Republicans. I never have understood the pleasure derived from gloating over the perils of the guy holding the toughest job in the world. It wasn't fun, in even a voyeuristic sort of way, to watch Bill Clinton face tough questions about his exploits in office, and it hasn't been fun to see partisan politics at work as we try to make sense of one of the collectively worst days of our lives. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - The only people to blame are the sadistic, evil men who took our false sense of security and invulnerability away from us all.