I have a couple of 8 x 10 color glossies of the real Charlie Wilson. In one he's accepting a certificate of some kind from a friend of mine who at the time was working for the Forest Service in Bishop, CA. The other shows Congressman Charlie on a mule in Afghanistan, supposedly among the mujahadeen. The award in Bishop was something to do with their "Mule Days" celebration, as I recall, and acknowledged his role in providing the Yankee mules used by the mujahadeen in support of their campaign against the Soviet invasion. The other showed Charlie with the resistance fighters, "on location" as it were. I'd like to see this movie just to witness how the Hollywood myth makers have distorted the true history. It's quite a jump from a string-of-mules to stinger missle, but then they're Hollywood. I suppose the mules could have been used to carry stingers. After 9/11 I had the photos tacked up alongside a map of Afghanistan in my living room. I pinned battle areas like Tora Bora and Mazar-e-Sharif.
This line from the following Bill Gertz article is hard for me to interpret: "That anti-American aspect of the film, namely that the Afghan operation ultimately caused the September 11 attacks, reportedly was altered after protests from Mr. Wilson and his former fiancee, Joanne Herring." Does Gertz mean that Charlie protested the implication, or lobbied to include the implication? My gut tells me it's the former. I guess now I'll have to see the movie.
December 21, 2007
Notes from the Pentagon
Conservative officials who served in the Reagan administration are upset by the left-wing slant of the new movie about the covert action program that helped Afghan guerrillas defeat the Soviet army during the 1980s.
"Charlie Wilson's War," out today, is based on a book about former Rep. Charles Wilson, Texas Democrat known widely on Capitol Hill during his tenure as "Good Time Charlie" who helped fund the semi-secret war that ultimately helped fell the Soviet Union.
The Reagan-era officials said the movie promotes the left-wing myth that the CIA-led operation funded Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda and ultimately produced the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Bin Laden, the officials said, never got CIA funding or weapons, and was not directly involved in Islamist extremist activities until years after the Afghan operation ended after the withdrawal of Soviet troops in 1989.
That anti-American aspect of the film, namely that the Afghan operation ultimately caused the September 11 attacks, reportedly was altered after protests from Mr. Wilson and his former fiancee, Joanne Herring.
The movie also erred by showing Mr. Wilson and his CIA collaborator, Gust Avrakotos, as enthusiastic backers of supplying advanced U.S. Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to the Afghan rebels.
Fred Ikle, the undersecretary of defense in the Reagan administration, said the CIA initially fought against sending Stingers, while Mr. Wilson was lukewarm on the matter. Both later supported the plan once rebels began downing Soviet gunships with them.
"Senior people in the Reagan administration, the president, [CIA Director] Bill Casey, [Defense Secretary Caspar] Weinberger and their aides deserve credit for the successful Afghan covert action program, not just Charlie Wilson," Mr. Ikle said in an interview.
The officials blamed the anti-Reagan slant of the film on the movie's screenwriter, Aaron Sorkin, the Hollywood liberal who regularly attacked conservatives on his television drama "The West Wing," also known as "The Left Wing" because of its liberal bias.
If you see the movie, just remember that Charlie was an enthusiastic backer of supplying mules, not necessarily stinger missles.
I watched part of The West Wing once. That was more than enough.