- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 12, 2001

STERLING, Va. Relatives of victims on the hijacked American Airlines jet that crashed into the Pentagon yesterday sought grief counseling at a hotel near Washington Dulles International Airport, where the doomed flight originated.
Law-enforcement officials last night said Republican activist Barbara Olson, wife of U.S. Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson, was among 58 passengers killed as the jet slammed into the Pentagon in a terrorist attack similar to assaults against the World Trade Center towers in New York.
Four flight attendants and two pilots also were killed.
Officials said Mrs. Olson called her husband on her cellular phone before the crash, saying she was on the hijacked plane.
American Airlines Flight 77 was bound from Dulles Airport to Los Angeles yesterday when it went down at the Pentagon about 10 a.m.
At least five families of those who died in the crash had arrived at the Dulles Marriott hotel on Aviation Drive last night and were immediately tended to by American Airlines crisis-management teams, clergy members and FBI agents.
Meanwhile, investigators for the Federal Aviation Administration late yesterday arrived at Dulles Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to determine how terrorists commandeered the jetliner that crashed into the Pentagon.
Both airports about 29 miles apart have been shut down at least until noon today while authorities investigate the hijacking and crash.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which organized the gathering with the airline and hotel staff, kept the victims' families tightly guarded during their stay. A pickup blocked the hotel's side entrance, the closest to the hotel's grand ballroom, where the families were escorted. Inside the ballroom, victims' relatives were kept to the side of the large room so they could not been seen from the hallway.
The FBI discouraged the airline and family members from making any statements about yesterday's attacks. However, in a prepared statements released yesterday, American Airlines said it was "horrified" by the events.
"Our thoughts go out to the families of all those involved," the statement read.
As of last night, American Airlines had not released the names of those killed in the crash.
American Airlines officials said the nationwide shutdown of airports made it difficult for company care teams to be flown to Washington from other cities to help local families.
"Every effort is being made in every corner of the company to help families of our customers and our fellow employees," said airline Chairman Donald J. Carty.
Dulles Airport remained closed throughout the day yesterday. Three American flags, which stand at the entrance of the international airport, flew at half-staff.
Inside, the airport's main terminal was empty. Airport authority officers and several drug-sniffing dogs patrolled the grounds of the main terminal, looking for unattended bags or suspicious cars.
Airport officials began canceling flights and blocking access to the main terminal by late morning, but still allowed passengers to stay inside to make other flight arrangements. Some passengers who already had boarded planes at the midfield terminals were evacuated once airport officials received news of the attacks.
Airport workers and travelers said they were shocked that Dulles Airport was one of the airports used in the terrorist attack.
"To me, someone has declared war on us," said Bill Meeley, a United Airlines test pilot who was trying to return to his home in Indianapolis. "If it's a war, then fight back. It's going to be interesting to see how this country deals with this."
Huang Jianjun spent yesterday morning counting his blessings. The businessman from China said he had attended meetings at the World Trade Center over the weekend and had visited the Pentagon yesterday.
"I'm extremely lucky today," he said as he was trying to catch a flight to Los Angeles.
Shortly after 1:30 p.m., two U.S. fighter planes flew over the airport grounds. Several hours later, a team of five FBI agents entered the main terminal, jumped over the ticket counters run by American Airlines and went through some paperwork before leaving.
By 4 p.m., airport officials evacuated the main terminal and barricaded the building's top level.
In a brief telephone interview with the Associated Press, Mr. Olson confirmed that his wife was on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon.
Mrs. Olson twice called her husband and described some details of the hijacking, including that the attackers were using knife-like instruments, law enforcement officials said. They declined to further describe the conversation.
The couple lived in Great Falls.
At the time of her death, Mrs. Olson worked as an attorney for Balch & Bingham on Pennsylvania Avenue in Northwest, where her area of expertise was legislative and regulatory matters, according to the law firm's Web site.
Mrs. Olson, 45, also served on the board of directors of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform since 1999, the site indicates.
Mrs. Olson recently wrote a critical book about former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, titled "Hell To Pay." Her latest work, "The Final Days," which chronicles the scandals at the end of the Clinton administration, was to be published this fall.
Originally from Houston, Mrs. Olson came to Washington in 1989, when she took a job in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, a position she got through a fellowship she had taken during her last year at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University in New York.
She met Mr. Olson at a legal conference later that year. They married in 1996.
The Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination hearings propelled Mrs. Olson into the realm of television news talk shows, where she often offered a conservative view on sexual harassment and related issues. Mrs. Olson had testified about Mr. Thomas' record in D.C. Circuit Court before accusations of sexual harassment broke. She then worked for the Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans who needed help preparing witnesses for testimony during the confirmation hearing.
In 1992, she became an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, where she mostly prosecuted drug cases. In 1995, after Republicans won control of Congress, Mrs. Olson became chief investigative counsel with the House Government Reform Committee under then-Chairman Bill Clinger, Pennsylvania Republican.
During her tenure, she was one of the investigators of Travelgate during the Clinton administration. In 1998, Mrs. Olson became counsel for Sen. Don Nickles, Oklahoma Republican.
Mrs. Olson also was a veteran of the Independent Women's Forum, a conservative group founded in 1992 that challenged the central tenets of feminism and refused to accept that women always had to be victims.
Mr. Olson represented President Bush in the Supreme Court when the battle over the recount of Florida's votes reached its climax in December.
Eric Fisher, Christian Toto, William Glanz and David Coates contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.


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