Olson stirs IRMCO attendees

In a stirring speech Sept. 3, Solicitor General Ted Olson vowed to protect the rights of every person in the United States even as the nation is determined to fight and win the war on terrorism.

Speaking in front of a giant American flag, Olson told government workers attending the 41st annual Interagency Resources Management Conference in Hershey, Pa., that "we will prevail for the very reason we were attacked" last September.

Olson's wife, Barbara, was a passenger on the hijacked jet that crashed into the Pentagon. He remembered her as the "embodiment" of those who died Sept. 11.

"She became the symbol to so many people," he said of his wife, who appeared frequently as a conservative commentator on CNN and was a federal prosecutor.

IRMCO, which was organized by the General Services Administration and features prominent speakers from inside and outside government, is an annual forum in which more than 500 senior executives and government managers meet.

Although Olson did not talk specifically about information technology, officials said he wanted to give a speech to his fellow public servants, and they responded with a standing ovation.

"You are the people who make our government work," Olson said in only the second speech he has given since Sept. 11.

In just eight days from the time of his speech, Olson said America would remember those who lost their lives — people who were "targeted for death precisely because they were Americans."

He said the 19 hijackers took advantage of the free and open society in the United States to enter the country, take flying lessons and plan their crimes.

He said the United States became the target because of everything it represents to those oppressed around the world.

"We protect not only those who would not salute our flag, but those who would spit on it or burn it," Olson said. "We protect those who worship any God or no God at all."

"How tragic it is that the terrorists of Sept. 11 were people we welcomed," Olson said.

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