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Former Rep. Charlie Wilson, 76, dies

Emma Brown

Former Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-Texas), 76, who funneled lots of money in the 1980s to Afghanistan tribesman in the war against the Soviets, was reported to have died today of cardiopulmonary arrest at a hospital in Lufkin, Texas.

Mr. Wilson worked with the late CIA agent Gust L. Avrakotos in bringing by mule hundreds of millions of dollars in automatic weapons, antitank guns, and satellite maps from Pakistan to the Afghani mujahideen.

Mr. Wilson and Avrakotos became wider known in 2003 when ''60 Minutes" producer George Crile published ''Charlie Wilson's War," a best-selling description of the Wilson-Avrakotos collaboration. A film followed starring Tom Hanks as Mr. Wilson.

For much of his tenure in the U.S. House, Mr. Wilson had a reputation as a playboy, earning the nickname "Goodtime Charlie." He did not seek reelection in 1996.

Mr. Wilson was the second major congressman to die this week, just days after the death of John P. Murtha.

By Emma Brown  |  February 10, 2010; 4:06 PM ET
Categories:  Adam Bernstein , Politics  
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Comments

Correction, Rep. Charlie Wilson was the first major congressman to die this week. John Murtha was just a long-surviving hack and a crook.

Posted by: screwjob11 | February 10, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

As one of many young East Texans who got to intern in Charlie's office over the years, it was a privilege and a pleasure to know the man and to work for him for however short a time.

He was a man who took care of his country, his district, and the downtrodden and discriminated against, even when an average Congressman would have found those interests to be at odds.

Sadly, I don't think there can be another leader like him in the age of factionalism, partisan purity, and the twenty-four hour news cycle.

Posted by: Left_of_the_Pyle | February 10, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Screwjob11

You would probably hope that when you die, some dork on a comment post, who doesn't know you wont p1ss on your grave...

Posted by: JoeBlo | February 10, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Charlie Wilson a hero! What a Joke. Him and people like him funded and created the Taliban just to defeat USSR in Afghanistan, damn be the consequences, such as resulting in the Taliban and Osama binLaden and thus US in Afghani war now for 8 years and counting. You can read more related here:
http://anoox.com/blog/power2people.37824

Posted by: RealNews1 | February 10, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Charlie Wilson was one of the reasons the situation in Afghanistan is what it is. He helped fund the predecessors to Al-Qaeda and the various warlords in the US proxy way against the Soviets, giving some of the most reactionary and socially backward forces in the world weapons, money and support--something they had very little of prior to this funding.

Posted by: rjacobs1 | February 10, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure Charlie had good intentions @ the time to help defeat the "AXIS of EVIL" Russia by supplying them guns that are being used against our soldiers now.
Things don't always work out the way you plan them. RIP

Posted by: hoosier58 | February 10, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Good riddance.

If we had stayed out of that useless part of the planet then, we might have had a chance to stay out of there now.

But NOOOOOOOoooooooooo, ole' chuck had to muck it up.

Posted by: Heerman532 | February 10, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

The Soviet Union would have collapsed whether they left or stayed in Afghanistan.

If only we left the Soviets fighting the Taliban and kept the radical Christianists out of it, we wouldn't have armed and trained a generation of Jihadists and we wouldn't be in mess we're in now.

Posted by: thebobbob | February 10, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps the person making statements calling Rep. Murtha a crook forgot to comment that the representative was also a Colonel during the Vietnam war serving this country honorably. What war did you serve in sir?

Posted by: truth1 | February 10, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Charlie Wilson is a hero and he was so right when he said we needed to stay and rebuild after we helped run out the Soviets. He said we changed the world, but then said, "that ball keeps on bouncing" and that we f'ed up the end game by leaving. Then the Taliban took over. He was so right. Its my all-time favorite movie. That movie is FANTASTIC. I think I've watched it about 8 times now. :)

Posted by: SusanMarie2 | February 10, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Bye Charlie, I love you!

Posted by: SusanMarie2 | February 10, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Charlie Wilson was the one that kept Murtha from facing ethics charges.

Posted by: FredKnowsBest | February 10, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Charlie funded what was later the Northern Alliance, Ahmed Massoud, hero to Afgans and Americans alike who fought both the Russians AND the Taliban. Get your facts straight people!!

Posted by: SusanMarie2 | February 10, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

ah, the charlie wilson story is 98% fable.

Reagan on the other hand armed the taliban to the teeth

Posted by: newagent99 | February 10, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Charlie funded what was later the Northern Alliance and Ahmed Massoud, the leader of the Northern Alliance fought bravely against both the Russians and the Taliban and who was assassinated by Al Quaeda! Charlie did not want to leave and if we had listened to Charlie, the Taliban would not have taken over. Get your facts straight and give credit where credit is due!

Posted by: SusanMarie2 | February 10, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Im guessing there are many things we do today that will affect the future, some good some bad, but at the time you cant ignore what is happening in the world...I dont Blame Charlie W, he did SOMETHING, right or wrong He did SOMETHING...

The making of this UNITED STATES is full of good plans that later turned to crap, but If we waited for absolute fool proof plans we would never get off the starting line...So all you Monday Morning QBs, please continue to show your brilliance.

As for Murtha, Yes he was a Col, and I have known many, But I can also say some were not very good guys. God Bless him for his service, but he was a very bad man in Congress, and Yes I served for 23 years.

Posted by: HawkCW4 | February 10, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Charlie Wilson did not set out to fund a terrorist organization in the 1980's. He saw a chance to extend the long-held foreign policy goal, pursued by both Democratic and Republican presidents, of contianing the expanison of communism. Mr. Wilson had his faults, but he served his country with honor.

Posted by: rogden71 | February 10, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Rest in Peace, Charlie Wilson. Five facts about the Liberal from Lufkin @ TakePart.

http://www.takepart.com/news/2010/02/10/rest-in-peace-charlie-wilson-five-facts-about-the-democrat-from-texas

Posted by: SC0507 | February 10, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

So how many of these armed Afghani's are not using those weapons and armaments against us now?

Posted by: kansasgal1 | February 10, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

So how many of these armed Afghani's are not using those weapons and armaments against us now?

Posted by: kansasgal1 | February 10, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

The lesson of Charles Wilson is that he taught America how to covertly win a proxy war. And that America wasn't ready to learn to overtly win a lasting peace.

I would think it isn't too inappropriate to share this little story that found it's way into the movie that bears his name and carries his legacy.

There's a little boy and on his 14th birthday he gets a horse... and everybody in the village says, "how wonderful. The boy got a horse" And the Zen master says, "we'll see." Two years later, the boy falls off the horse, breaks his leg, and everyone in the village says, "How terrible." And the Zen master says, "We'll see." Then, a war breaks out and all the young men have to go off and fight... except the boy can't cause his leg's all messed up. and everybody in the village says, "How wonderful."

Charlie Wilson: Now the Zen master says, "We'll see."

Posted by: mabkhar | February 10, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

The man who gave us bin-Laden.

Posted by: Maddogg | February 10, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

I am sure that the vast majority of the Afghan people were happier under the Taliban than under the Soviet backed government. Oh, by "people" I am referring to the Afghanis who don't happen to have been woman. I am not really sure how they liked having more rights under a Communist dictator than under the rule of Mr. Charlie's freedom loving Muslim fanatics.

Posted by: daweeni | February 10, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Charlie Wilson, the CIA, Afghanistan in the 80's.........they should all be permanently linked to the term BLOWBACK.

Posted by: gce1356 | February 10, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Wilson served his nation well in Congress and as a Naval officer, and his constituents.
Glad he lived to see the Tom Hanks movie that for the most part, deeply honored that contribution while good naturedly jibing Wilson as "no Thomas Jefferson".

He made a huge contribution, in that after Nixon resigned and the Russians went wild with global adventurism for almost a decade, Charlie Wilson was a critical player in serving up a Giant crap sandwich to the Soviets. It wasn't a true reason why the Soviets imploded - but the taste of that sandwich was critical in why the Soviets let East Europe go and allowed all the non-Russian parts of the Empire to seek independence. (They really didn't have the appetite for the sort of crap Wilson fed them in Afghanistan replicated elsewhere.)

Posted by: ChrisFord1 | February 10, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Dear left-wing rabid attack-rabbits. Please get your facts straight, otherwise you'll be laughed at as usual.

US fought another battle of World-War III in Afghanistan against the imperialism of the Soviets. We worked with an alliance of 7 Afghan parties always going through ISI.

The problems came when we said in 1992 when Kabul finally fell, "Thank you very much" and walked away leaving 7 million refugees abroad, a country in ruins, the intellectuals murdered, leadership fractured,and chaos. Heqmatyar began sending the first of 500,000 rockets into Kabul shortly after.

Now listen dummies. THE TALIBAN DID NOT EXIST until 1995 when they were created out of whole-cloth by Pakistan's ISI in Quetta, Pakistan. They did not exist in 1978 when Daud was overthrown or in Dec 1979 when the Soviets formally invaded, or in 1989 when the wall fell, or in 1989 when Soviet troops withdrew, or in 1991 when the Soviet Union blew apart, or in 1992 when Kabul finely fell and Najibullah fled to refuge in a UN hqs.

SO RED LOVERS....ST*FU about history you don't know squat about or that like Himmler or Stalin, you choose to just lie about through your teeth.

Americans are not stupid. Charlie was a great man and a hero of the 3rd World War. We won. You, you pink tinged, bureaucratic tyranny obsessed, goolag lovers, lost.

Posted by: wjc1va | February 10, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Dear left-wing rabid attack-rabbits. Please get your facts straight, otherwise you'll be laughed at as usual.

US fought another battle of World-War III in Afghanistan against the imperialism of the Soviets. We worked with an alliance of 7 Afghan parties always going through ISI.

The problems came when we said in 1992 when Kabul finally fell, "Thank you very much" and walked away leaving 7 million refugees abroad, a country in ruins, the intellectuals murdered, leadership fractured,and chaos. Heqmatyar began sending the first of 500,000 rockets into Kabul shortly after.

Now listen dummies. THE TALIBAN DID NOT EXIST until 1995 when they were created out of whole-cloth by Pakistan's ISI in Quetta, Pakistan. They did not exist in 1978 when Daud was overthrown or in Dec 1979 when the Soviets formally invaded, or in 1989 when the wall fell, or in 1989 when Soviet troops withdrew, or in 1991 when the Soviet Union blew apart, or in 1992 when Kabul finely fell and Najibullah fled to refuge in a UN hqs.

SO RED LOVERS....ST*FU about history you don't know squat about or that like Himmler or Stalin, you choose to just lie about through your teeth.

Americans are not stupid. Charlie was a great man and a hero of the 3rd World War. We won. You, you pink tinged, bureaucratic tyranny obsessed, goolag lovers, lost.

Posted by: wjc1va | February 10, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

"Charlie Wilson's War" is yet another fascist Hollywood liberal attempt to rewrite history. This time allowing some obscure, drunkard (but it's O.K. because he's a Democrat) congressman to take credit for the fruits of Ronald Reagan's foreign policy.

Posted by: PauvrePapillon | February 10, 2010 8:11 PM | Report abuse

I find partisans amusing. It is great to think "What if?". Like, what if Charlie Wilson did exactly what he did but was a Democrat? Would the rock-ribbed Republicans be praising him so? Hardly. It works both ways. The Dem partisans do it too. Partisans are all very very silly.

Posted by: steveboyington | February 10, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse

My bad. Charlie WAS a Democrat. Boy, there have to be lots of confused partisans out there nowadays. Or confused non-partisans. My apologies.

So much hatred and ignorance out there on every issue. If people spent more time reading and learning and less time hollering everyone would be a lot better.

Posted by: steveboyington | February 10, 2010 8:27 PM | Report abuse

wjc1va, I agree with you mostest. :)

Posted by: SusanMarie2 | February 10, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

steveboyington, remember, Charlie was a liberal...except where it counts. :)

Posted by: SusanMarie2 | February 10, 2010 8:48 PM | Report abuse

steveboyington, remember, Charlie was a liberal...except where it counts. :)

Posted by: SusanMarie2 | February 10, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

OK, I came into forum this wanting to post a note citing that our generous funding of the Afghan's (the people, not the living room accessories) war against the Soviets in the 80's (via Charlie Wilson's war") led to where we are today with Osama Bin Ladin and the taliban et al. But a more careful examination of the points of view expressed here led me to a more subtle, slightly different conclusion. God bless the USA and the technology that led to a global forum like this where our opinions can be expressed relatively openly. For those of you that didn't live through darker days of our history, it wasn't always like this, and we all need to know that there forces in this world that would choose to strip us of our rights of expression. Bloggers against imminent future cyber-attacks unite!

Posted by: jamesthughes3 | February 10, 2010 11:55 PM | Report abuse

wjc1va: You are a dinosaur! What year do you think it is? Keep drinking the kool-aid, the older generation (YOU GRAMPS) is full of morons who think the USA can do no wrong. See you at the Tea Party.

Posted by: yetanotherpassword | February 11, 2010 6:22 AM | Report abuse

Charlie was a great Texan, a TRUE Democrat, and an American patriot.


God speed, Charlie Wilson, God speed, my friend. You were admired and loved.

Posted by: anna_78750 | February 11, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

This obit could have been much more colorful with a little more digging into the Post's archives from the 1980s. Long before "Charlie Wilson's War" became his schtick, the W Post, the NY Times, and Molly Ivins regularly loved to write about this guy as a true character in Congress, and their stories on him were excellent and numerous. Just as a couple that I remember, he filed a complaint that while other congressmen could take their wives on junkets he couldn't bring his girlfriend du jour, usually a beauty queen or the like. And Molly Ivins quoted his office hiring philosophy as "you can always teach 'em to type but you can't teach 'em to grow big t**s." The Post used to live off of these excellent stories about Charlie Wilson, so why didn't the paper drag more of them up for his obit?

Posted by: sullidav | February 14, 2010 11:17 PM | Report abuse

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