September 12, 2001, The Telegraph, Wife phoned from hijack airliner as it hit Pentagon, by Toby Harnden in Washington, 12:00AM BST, [8:00 p.m. EDT, Sept. 11]
THE wife of the US solicitor general was on board the Boeing 757 that crashed into the Pentagon and phoned her husband seconds before it crashed.
Barbara Olson, 46, was locked in the toilet when the passengers and crew were ordered to the back of the airliner. A spokesman for Mr Olson said: "She called and said she was locked in the toilet and the plane had been hijacked.
"She said they had knives. They had rounded up the passengers at the back of the plane. She referred to them as more than one. There was nothing she could do. She said to her husband: 'What do I do?'"
The call ended seconds before the crash.
Police did not believe that anybody on board had survived the crash and Mrs Olson had not originally planned to be on the flight, which had just taken off from Dulles Airport bound for San Francisco.
She had delayed her flight so that she could share breakfast with her husband to celebrate his birthday, which fell yesterday.
Mrs Olson had placed two calls from the plane - the first to the Justice Department, where her husband worked, to inform the authorities of the hijacking.
The fact that the crew were ordered to join the passengers indicated that the hijackers included trained pilots capable of aiming the aircraft at their targets.
Mrs Olson then phoned her husband, who is known primarily for having argued the case for President Bush before the US Supreme Court last year during his election recount contest with Al Gore.
She asked her husband what she should tell the pilot to do. "It was typical of her," one friend said. "She was always the type to try to take charge."
A witness to the crash, Mike Walter, said: "It was like a Cruise missile with wings.
"I saw parts of the plane. The debris was on the overpass. I saw these military units run out with stretchers and set up a triage. It was just sheer terror. The only thing that I kept uttering over and over was 'Oh my God, I can't believe this'.
"I was sitting listening on the radio to the accounts of what had happened and to the President but I didn't put together two and two."
Mrs Olson, a former congressional aide and US prosecutor, was a biographer of Hillary Clinton. She had recently completed a book about the scandals of the final weeks of Mr Clinton's presidency and was a frequent "talking head" during the Monica Lewinsky and Chandra Levy scandals.
The Olsons were among the most prominent couples in Washington conservative social circles.