|A.K.A.||Barbara Kay Olson|
|From||United States of America|
|Birth||27 December 1955, Houston, Harris County, Texas, USA|
|Death||11 September 2001, Arlington County, Virginia, USA (aged 45 years)|
Barbara Kay Olson (née Bracher; December 27, 1955 – September 11, 2001) was an American lawyer and conservative television commentator who worked for CNN, Fox News Channel, and several other outlets. She was a passenger on American Airlines Flight 77 en route to a taping of Bill Maher's television show Politically Incorrect when it was flown into the Pentagon in the September 11 attacks. Her original plan had been to fly to California on September 10, but she delayed her departure until the next morning so that she could wake up with her husband on his birthday, September 11.
Olson was born Barbara Kay Bracher in Houston, Texas, on December 27, 1955. Her older sister, Toni Bracher-Lawrence, was a member of the Houston City Council from 2004 to 2010. She graduated from Waltrip High School and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Saint Thomas in Houston. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Yeshiva University Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
As a newcomer, she achieved a surprising measure of success, working for HBO and Stacy Keach Productions. In the early 1990s, she worked as an associate at the Washington, D.C.-based law firm of Wilmer Cutler & Pickering where she did civil litigation for several years before becoming an Assistant U.S. Attorney.
Olson's support in 1991 of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas led to the formation of the Independent Women's Forum. At that time, Olson and friend Rosalie (Ricky) Gaull Silberman started an informal network of women who supported the Thomas nomination to the Supreme Court despite allegations of sexual harassment by Anita Hill, a former subordinate of Thomas at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Olson, who had also worked under Thomas at the EEOC and was a close friend of Thomas, spoke out on his behalf during his contentious Senate confirmation hearings. Olson later helped edit The Real Anita Hill, a book by David Brock that savaged Hill and portrayed the harassment claim as a political dirty trick (Brock later recanted his claims and apologized to Hill). The Independent Women's Forum continued on with a goal of retaining a high profile group of women to advocate for economic and political freedom and personal responsibility.
In 1994, Olson became chief investigative counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. In that position, she led the Travelgate and Filegate investigations into the Clinton administration. She was later a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of the Birmingham, Alabama law firm Balch & Bingham.
She married Theodore Olson in 1996, becoming his third wife. Theodore went on to successfully represent presidential candidate George W. Bush in the Supreme Court case of Bush v. Gore, and subsequently served as U.S. Solicitor General in the Bush administration.
Olson was a frequent critic of the Bill Clinton administration and wrote a book about then First Lady Hillary Clinton, Hell to Pay: The Unfolding Story of Hillary Rodham Clinton (1999). Olson's second book, The Final Days: The Last, Desperate Abuses of Power by the Clinton White House was published posthumously.
She was a resident of Great Falls, Virginia.
Death and legacy
Olson was a passenger on American Airlines Flight 77 on her way to a taping of Politically Incorrect in Los Angeles, when it was flown into the Pentagon in the September 11 attacks. Her original plan had been to fly to California on September 10, but she waited until the next day so that she could wake up with her husband on his birthday, September 11. Bill Maher, host of Politically Incorrect, left a panel chair empty for a week in her memory. At the National September 11 Memorial, Olson's name is located on Panel S-70 of the South Pool, along with those of other passengers of Flight 77.
- Hell to Pay: The Unfolding Story of Hillary Rodham Clinton (November 1999; ISBN 0-89526-274-6)
- The Final Days: The Last, Desperate Abuses of Power by the Clinton White House (October 2001; ISBN 0-89526-167-7)