Charlie Wilson (Texas politician)

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Charlie Wilson
Member of the U.S.HouseofRepresentatives
from Texas's 2nd district
In office
January 3, 1973 – January 3, 1997
Preceded by John Dowdy
Succeeded by Jim Turner
Member of the Texas Senate
from the 3rd district
In office
January 10, 1967 January 9, 1973
Preceded by Martin Dies, Jr.
Succeeded byDon Adams
Member of the TexasHouseofRepresentatives
from the 6th district
In office
January 8, 1963 January 10, 1967
Preceded bySteve Burgess
Succeeded by David Crews
Member of the TexasHouseofRepresentatives
from the 18th district
In office
January 10, 1961 January 8, 1963
Preceded byWilliam Winston
Succeeded by David Crews
Personal details
Charles Nesbitt Wilson

(1933-06-01)June 1, 1933
Trinity, Texas, U.S.
DiedFebruary 10, 2010(2010-02-10) (aged 76)
Lufkin, Texas, U.S.
Cause of death Cardiac Arrest
Resting place Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington County, Virginia, U.S.
Political party Democratic
  • Jerry Carter
    (m. 1973;div. 1983)
  • Barbara Alberstadt
    (m. 1999,his death)
Alma mater United States Naval Academy (B.S.)
OccupationNaval officer
Military service
AllegianceFlag of the United States.svg  United States
Branch/serviceFlag of the United States Navy (official).svg  United States Navy
Years of service1956–1960
Rank US Navy O3 infobox.svg Lieutenant

Charles Nesbitt Wilson (June 1, 1933 – February 10, 2010) was a United States naval officer and former 12-term Democratic United States Representative from Texas's 2nd congressional district.

Democratic Party (United States) Major political party in the United States

The Democratic Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with its rival, the Republican Party. Tracing its heritage back to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison's Democratic-Republican Party, the modern-day Democratic Party was founded around 1828 by supporters of Andrew Jackson, making it the world's oldest active political party.

United States Congress Legislature of the United States

The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, and consists of two chambers: the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. Both senators and representatives are chosen through direct election, though vacancies in the Senate may be filled by a gubernatorial appointment. Congress has 535 voting members: 435 representatives and 100 senators. The House of Representatives has six non-voting members representing Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia in addition to its 435 voting members. Although they cannot vote in the full house, these members can address the house, sit and vote in congressional committees, and introduce legislation.

Texass 2nd congressional district district representing parts of Houston, TX in the U.S. House of Representatives

Texas's 2nd congressional district of the United States House of Representatives is in the southeastern portion of the state of Texas. It encompasses much of northern and western Houston.


Wilson is best known for leading Congress into supporting Operation Cyclone, the largest-ever Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) covert operation, which, under the Carter and Reagan administration, supplied military equipment including weapons such as obsolete FIM-43 Redeye MANPADS surface-to-air anti-aircraft missiles and paramilitary officers from their Special Activities Division to the Afghan Mujahideen during the Soviet–Afghan War. His behind-the-scenes campaign was the subject of the non-fiction book Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History by George Crile III and the subsequent film Charlie Wilson's War , starring Tom Hanks as Wilson.

Operation Cyclone was the code name for the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) program to arm and finance the mujahideen, in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989, prior to and during the military intervention by the USSR in support of its client, the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. The program leaned heavily towards supporting militant Islamic groups that were favored by the regime of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in neighboring Pakistan, rather than other, less ideological Afghan resistance groups that had also been fighting the Marxist-oriented Democratic Republic of Afghanistan regime since before the Soviet intervention. Operation Cyclone was one of the longest and most expensive covert CIA operations ever undertaken; funding began with just over $500,000 in 1979, was increased dramatically to $20–$30 million per year in 1980 and rose to $630 million per year in 1987. Funding continued after 1989 as the mujahideen battled the forces of Mohammad Najibullah's PDPA during the civil war in Afghanistan (1989–1992).

Central Intelligence Agency National intelligence agency of the United States

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is a civilian foreign intelligence service of the federal government of the United States, tasked with gathering, processing, and analyzing national security information from around the world, primarily through the use of human intelligence (HUMINT). As one of the principal members of the United States Intelligence Community (IC), the CIA reports to the Director of National Intelligence and is primarily focused on providing intelligence for the President and Cabinet of the United States.

A covert operation is a military operation intended to conceal the identity of the sponsor and intended to create a political effect which can have implications in the military, intelligence or law enforcement arenas—affecting either the internal population of a country or individuals outside it.

Early life and naval career

Wilson was born in the small town of Trinity, Texas, to Charles Edwin Wilson, an accountant for a local timber company, and Wilmuth (née Nesbitt), a local florist, on June 1, 1933. [1] Wilson had one younger sister, Sharon Wilson Allison, former chair of Planned Parenthood and president of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, who currently resides in Waco, Texas.

Trinity, Texas City in Texas, United States

Trinity is a city in Trinity County, Texas, United States. The population was 2,697 at the 2010 census.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. (PPFA), or Planned Parenthood, is a nonprofit organization that provides reproductive health care in the United States and globally. It is a tax-exempt corporation under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3) and a member association of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). PPFA has its roots in Brooklyn, New York, where Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in the U.S. in 1916. Sanger founded the American Birth Control League in 1921, which changed its name to Planned Parenthood in 1942.

The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) is a global non-governmental organisation with the broad aims of promoting sexual and reproductive health, and advocating the right of individuals to make their own choices in family planning. It was first formed in 1952 in Bombay, India by Margaret Sanger and Lady Rama Rau at the Third International Conference on Planned Parenthood with support of an expanding population with limited resources. Presently, it consists of more than 149 Member Associations working in more than 189 countries. The IPPF is highly developed and organised into six regions. The organisation is based in London, England.

Growing up, Wilson attended Trinity public schools and, upon graduation from Trinity High School in 1951, he attended one semester at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, before being appointed to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. [2] [ page needed ] While at Annapolis, Wilson earned the second most demerits in the history of the academy (his roommate, Robert Mullen, earned the most demerits). Wilson graduated eighth from the bottom of his class in 1956 with a B.S. degree in Engineering, specializing in electronics. [3]

Sam Houston State University American university

Sam Houston State University is a public university in Huntsville, Texas. It was founded in 1879 and is the third-oldest public college or university in Texas. It is one of the oldest purpose-built institutions for the instruction of teachers west of the Mississippi River and the first such institution in Texas. It is named for Sam Houston, who made his home in the city and is buried there.

Huntsville, Texas City in Texas, United States

Huntsville is a city in and the county seat of Walker County, Texas. The population was 38,548 as of the 2010 census. It is the center of the Huntsville micropolitan area.

United States Naval Academy The U.S. Navys federal service academy

The United States Naval Academy is a four-year coeducational federal service academy adjacent to Annapolis, Maryland. Established on 10 October 1845, under Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft, it is the second oldest of the United States' five service academies, and educates officers for commissioning primarily into the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps. The 338-acre (137 ha) campus is located on the former grounds of Fort Severn at the confluence of the Severn River and Chesapeake Bay in Anne Arundel County, 33 miles (53 km) east of Washington, D.C. and 26 miles (42 km) southeast of Baltimore. The entire campus is a National Historic Landmark and home to many historic sites, buildings, and monuments. It replaced Philadelphia Naval Asylum, in Philadelphia, that served as the first United States Naval Academy from 1838 to 1845 when the Naval Academy formed in Annapolis.

Between 1956 and 1960, Wilson served in the United States Navy, attaining the rank of lieutenant and serving as the Gunnery Officer on the USS John W. Weeks (DD-701). He was assigned to the Pentagon as part of an intelligence unit that evaluated the Soviet Union's nuclear forces. [4]

United States Navy Naval warfare branch of US Armed Forces

The United States Navy (USN) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most capable navy in the world and it has been estimated that in terms of tonnage of its active battle fleet alone, it is larger than the next 13 navies combined, which includes 11 U.S. allies or partner nations. It has the highest combined battle fleet tonnage and the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, and two new carriers under construction. With 336,978 personnel on active duty and 101,583 in the Ready Reserve, the U.S. Navy is the third largest of the U.S. military service branches in terms of personnel. It has 290 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of June 2019, making it the third-largest air force in the world, after the United States Air Force and the United States Army.

USS <i>John W. Weeks</i>

USS John W. Weeks (DD-701), an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer, was named for John Wingate Weeks, who attained the rank of rear admiral. Weeks was elected to the United States House of Representatives where he served until entering the United States Senate in 1913. He became Secretary of War on 4 March 1921.

The Pentagon The United States Department of Defenses office building in Virginia

The Pentagon is the headquarters building of the United States Department of Defense, although as a symbol of the U.S. military, the phrase The Pentagon is also often used as a metonym for the Department of Defense and its leadership.

Early political career highlights

From a young age, Wilson took an interest in national security and foreign matters. Growing up during World War II encouraged Wilson to avidly read military history, including numerous articles and other literature on the war. This led Wilson to have a lifelong admiration for Winston Churchill. Wilson even took the opportunity as a child to "keep watch" over Trinity for Japanese aerial attacks from his post in the back yard. [5] Wilson's early sense of patriotism and his strong interest in international affairs encouraged him to become politically active later in life.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Winston Churchill Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during most of World War II

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was a British politician, army officer, and writer. He was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, when he led Britain to victory in the Second World War, and again from 1951 to 1955. Churchill represented five constituencies during his career as a Member of Parliament (MP). Ideologically an economic liberal and imperialist, for most of his career he was a member of the Conservative Party, which he led from 1940 to 1955, but from 1904 to 1924 was a member of the Liberal Party.

According to Wilson himself, he first entered politics as a teenager by running a campaign against his next-door neighbor, city council incumbent Charles Hazard. When thirteen years old, Wilson's fourteen-year-old dog entered Hazard's yard. Hazard retaliated by mixing crushed glass into the dog's food, causing fatal internal bleeding. Following this incident, Wilson obtained a driver's permit and drove ninety-six voters to the polls in his family's two-door Chevrolet. As patrons left the car, Wilson told each of them that he didn't want to influence their vote, but that the incumbent Hazard had purposely killed his dog. After Hazard was defeated by a margin of 16 votes, Wilson went to his house to tell him that his black constituents voted to defeat him and he "shouldn't poison any more dogs." Wilson cited this as "the day [he] fell in love with America." [6]

While Wilson worked at the Pentagon, he volunteered to help in John F. Kennedy's 1960 presidential campaign. While volunteering in Kennedy's campaign, Wilson took a 30-day leave from the U.S. Navy and entered his name into the race for Texas state representative of his home district on the Democratic ticket. [7] This action violated Navy regulations, as active-duty service members are prohibited from holding public office. When Wilson returned to duty, his family and friends went door to door campaigning. In 1961, at age 27, he was sworn into office in Austin, Texas. [8]

Temple-Inland, Inc., an East Texas forest products producer owned by Arthur Temple, Jr., and Temple's son, Buddy Temple, employed Wilson during his incumbency in the Texas legislature, but business interests were nevertheless suspicious of Wilson's policies. [9] While serving as a Texas state representative for twelve years, Wilson battled for the regulation of utilities, fought for Medicaid, tax exemptions for the elderly, the Equal Rights Amendment, and attempted to raise the state's minimum wage. He was also one of the few prominent Texas politicians to be pro-choice. All of these policies earned Wilson the reputation of being the "liberal from Lufkin." [8]

Congressional politics

In 1972, Wilson was elected to the United States House of Representatives from Texas's 2nd congressional district, taking office the following January. Re-elected eleven times, Wilson thoroughly enjoyed his job and always sought to "take care of the home folks" until his resignation on October 8, 1996. [10] Although hawkish on foreign issues, he was liberal on other issues such as women's rights, social security and abortion.

As a freshman representative, Wilson achieved the designation of the Big Thicket in Southeast Texas as a National Preserve in 1974. [11] This early achievement made his colleagues respect his political power and Wilson quickly earned an appointment on the United States House Committee on Appropriations. During his incumbency, Wilson's colleagues regarded him as the "best horse trader in Washington" because of his ability to negotiate and trade votes with other congressmen to ensure passage of his favored bills. [12]

Despite not having many Jewish constituents, Wilson developed a strong relationship with Israel during his entire congressional career. This bond began during Wilson's first year in Washington when the Yom Kippur War occurred. From a young age, Wilson had always supported the "underdog", and Wilson quickly went to Israel's defense as a self-proclaimed "Israeli commando." While on the Appropriations committee, Wilson increased U.S. aid to Israel to $3 billion annually. Later, Wilson's close ties with Israel enabled him to collaborate with Israeli defense engineers to create and transport man-portable anti-aircraft guns into Pakistan to be used in the Soviet–Afghan War. [13]

As for domestic policy, Wilson ceaselessly championed for the individual's rights, especially women's and minorities' rights. He continuously voted pro-choice and fought voting discrimination against African Americans. Women and African Americans were two of his largest constituent bases. Wilson respected his district's female vote so much that in 1974 he used the League of Women Voters to pass the Safe Drinking Water Act. [14] In addition to supporting women's rights legislation, Wilson broke Washington tradition and hired female staffers. Although Wilson never had a female chief of staff, his office was filled with women who tirelessly helped the congressman. "Charlie's Angels", as they were commonly called, handled constituent problems for Wilson to ensure none of his constituents lacked in aid and support. [15] Wilson's staff quickly drew the attention of his colleagues and media. Although rumors of scandals surrounded Wilson's office, Wilson emphatically insisted that his staff should be respected and their diligent work for the representative enabled them to have freedom to work independently of Wilson. [15]

Wilson worked on improving Americans' lives, especially those of the underprivileged. Wilson lobbied against business interests to maintain a $3.35 per hour minimum wage. [16] Wilson also continuously sought to increase Medicare and Medicaid funding for the elderly and underprivileged and Veterans' Affairs funding for veterans. His efforts in these regards gained him the reputation of "taking care of the home folks" and gained funding to open the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Lufkin, Texas. [17]

Wilson avidly supported the individual rights to own firearms. This support created tension between Wilson and his sister Sharon Allison, but they reached an agreement that Allison would leave Wilson alone about his views on firearms, and Wilson would support Allison's pro-choice agenda. [18]

Wilson achieved a measure of success through his horse trading capabilities[ clarification needed ]. Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill appointed Wilson to the United States House Committee on Ethics in 1980 to help protect Representative John Murtha, Jr. from investigations during the Abscam scandal. In return for Wilson's appointment to this committee, O'Neill also gave him a coveted spot on the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees. [19] Wilson also gained a position on the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee. This appointment enabled Wilson to funnel support money for Somoza in Nicaragua and support Mujahideen efforts to oust the Soviets from Afghanistan. [2] [ page needed ]

Soviet-Afghan war

In 1980, Wilson read an Associated Press dispatch on the congressional wires describing the refugees fleeing Soviet-occupied Afghanistan. The communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan had taken over power during the Saur Revolution and asked the Soviet Union to help suppress resistance from the Mujahideen. According to biographer George Crile III, Wilson called the staff of the United States House Committee on Appropriations dealing with "black appropriations" and requested a two-fold appropriation increase for Afghanistan. Because Wilson had just been named to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense (which is responsible for funding CIA operations), his request went through. [20]

Charlie Wilson with George Crile III (left) in Afghanistan. George Crile.jpg
Charlie Wilson with George Crile III (left) in Afghanistan.

That was not the last time he increased the CIA budget for its Afghan operation. In 1983, he secured an additional $40 million, $17 million of which was allocated for anti-aircraft weapons to shoot down Mil Mi-24 Hind helicopters. [21] The next year, CIA officer Gust Avrakotos directly approached Wilson—breaking the CIA's policy against lobbying Congress for money—asking Wilson for $50 million more. Wilson agreed and convinced Congress, saying, "The U.S. had nothing whatsoever to do with these people's decision to fight ... but we'll be damned by history if we let them fight with stones." [22] Later, Wilson succeeded in giving the Afghans $300 million of unused Pentagon money before the end of the fiscal year. [23] Thus, Wilson directly influenced the level of United States government support for the Afghan Mujahideen. Wilson has said that the covert operation succeeded because "there was no partisanship or damaging leaks." [24] Michael Pillsbury, a senior Pentagon official, used Wilson's funding to provide Stinger missiles to the Afghan resistance in a controversial decision.

Wilson posing with Mujahideen in Afghanistan Charlie Wilson with Afghan man.jpg
Wilson posing with Mujahideen in Afghanistan

Joanne Herring, along with others, played a role in helping the Afghan resistance fighters get support and military equipment from the United States government. She persuaded Wilson to visit the Pakistani leadership, and after meeting with them he was taken to a major Pakistan-based Afghan refugee camp so he could see for himself the atrocities committed by the Soviets against the Afghan people. About that visit, Wilson later said that "the experience that will always be seared in my memory, was going through those hospitals and seeing, especially those children with their hands blown off from the mines that the Soviets were dropping from their helicopters. That was perhaps the deciding thing ... and it made a huge difference for the next 10 or 12 years of my life because I left those hospitals determined, as long as I had a breath in my body and was a member in Congress, that I was going to do what I could to make the Soviets pay for what they were doing!" In 2008, Wilson said he had "got involved in Afghanistan because I went there and I saw what the Soviets were doing. And I saw the refugee camps." [25]

For his efforts, Wilson was presented with the Honored Colleague Award by the CIA. He became the first civilian to receive the award. [26] However, Wilson's role remains controversial because most of the aid was supplied to Islamist hardliner Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who has been accused of serious war crimes and later allied with the Taliban after the U.S. invasion. [27]

The decision of the Soviet Union to withdraw from Afghanistan and declare the invasion a mistake led to Wilson commending the Soviet leadership on the floor of the House of Representatives. He also supported United States involvement in the Bosnian War, touring the former Yugoslavia over five days in January 1993; on his return he urged the Clinton administration to lift the arms embargo on Bosnia, remarking "This is good versus evil and, if we do not want to Americanize this, then what do we want to Americanize? We have to stand for something." [28]

During Charlie Wilson's visit to Afghanistan, he met Jalaluddin Haqqani. He wanted to fire Stinger missile at one of the Soviet helicopter. Haqqani was happy to make Charlie Wilson's wartime fantasy come true. They dragged chains and tires on the road to create a dust cloud, which would attract Soviet helicopters. However, none of the Soviet helicopters showed up and Charlie Wilson was unable to fire any missiles. [29]

"Good Time Charlie"

Wilson unashamedly lived an extravagant and flamboyant life. Beginning in his naval years, Wilson enjoyed partying and having nights on the town. Wilson was a self-proclaimed "ladies' man" and the news media reported on his exotic bedroom, complete with hot tub and handcuffs where he engaged in romantic affairs. [30] Wilson's "Good Time Charlie" image was first exposed to the public in a 1978 editorial by Kathleen McLean in The Washington Post . [31] Over the course of his congressional career, when reporters questioned Wilson about his constituents' view of their representative, Wilson reported that they knew they were not electing a "constipated monk" to office. [32] Wilson unashamedly embraced his playboy persona and never played down his "Good Time" image in public.

Wilson's enjoyment of parties led him to invest with two Texas businessmen to open the Elan–Washington Club. To increase the number of club patrons, Wilson passed out memberships to his congressional colleagues. Halfway through his passing out memberships, Wilson decided that his actions might not be deemed ethical by congress and commented that he "was ethicized right out of business." [33]

Throughout the course of his life, Wilson drank heavily, which may have been a factor in his divorce from Jerry. [34] While in Washington, Wilson became a functioning alcoholic and suffered from severe bouts of depression and insomnia, and his drinking intensified during his involvement in Afghanistan. Wilson's drunkenness also led to a scandal in 1980 when an eyewitness reported that Wilson's Lincoln Continental hit a Mazda in a hit-and-run accident on the Key Bridge in Washington, D.C., the night before his first trip to Pakistan. Although he was never convicted, this accident illustrates Wilson's recklessness with alcohol. [35]

During one of his foreign excursions Wilson was transported to a hospital in Germany where doctors told Wilson his heart was failing due to his excessive drinking. Wilson sought a second and third opinion at hospitals in Bethesda and Houston and the German doctors' conclusions were confirmed: Wilson had to stop drinking. After these diagnoses Wilson quit drinking hard liquor but continued to drink wine for several years. His excessive drinking and associated heart problems forced Wilson to have a heart transplant in September 2007. Overcoming his struggle with alcoholism, Wilson finally quit drinking after marrying Barbara Alberstadt, a former ballerina, in 1999. [36]

In addition to alcohol abuse, Wilson allegedly used illegal drugs. In 1980, Wilson was accused of using cocaine at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas; however, the investigation by Justice Department attorney Rudy Giuliani was dropped due to lack of evidence. [37] Liz Wickersham told investigators that she saw Wilson use cocaine only once in the Cayman Islands, but this was outside United States jurisdiction. [38] In "The Charlie Wilson Real Story" Wilson reveals he traveled to Las Vegas in the summer of 1980, and recalls an experience with two strippers in a hot tub.

The girls had cocaine, and the music was loud. It was total happiness. And both of them had ten long, red fingernails with an endless supply of beautiful white powder ... The feds spent a million bucks trying to figure out whether, when those fingernails passed under my nose, did I inhale or exhale, and I ain't telling.

Charlie Wilson [39]

When questioned about his past alleged cocaine use in 2007 Wilson reaffirmed, "Nobody knows the answer to that and I ain't telling". [40]

In addition to his "Angels" in the office, Wilson always had a female escort when he was not on the House floor. Wilson's primary motivator to be on the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees was so he always had a place to take a date. [41] Also, following his second trip to Pakistan, Wilson always brought a female companion with him. At one point he even brought Carol Shannon to entertain his hosts with her belly dancing ability. [2] [ page needed ] Bringing women to Pakistan created tension between Wilson and the CIA in 1987 when the agency refused to fund his girlfriend's travel expenses. In response, Wilson cut the agency's funding the next year. [42] According to businesswoman and political activist Joanne Herring, Wilson cared about his dates and enjoyed being romantic and caring. [43] Although he was an "unapologetic sexist, chauvinistic redneck", he attracted many women over a number of years. [30]

Wilson has been said to have lived life as "one big party", and lived by the mantra that he could "take his job seriously without taking himself seriously". [44]


Wilson declined to run for re-election in 1996 and became a lobbyist for Pakistan before retiring to Lufkin. He donated his congressional papers to Stephen F. Austin State University. In 1999, he married Barbara Alberstadt, his second wife. Wilson received a heart transplant in 2007, and continued to follow the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he expressed concerns about events in that region. In July 2009, the University of Texas System Board of Regents established the Charles N. Wilson Chair in Pakistan Studies, which encourages research in the geopolitical importance of Pakistan, as well as its culture, history, and literature. [4]


Wilson died on February 10, 2010, at CHI St. Luke's Health Memorial Lufkin (at the time it was Memorial Health System of East Texas at Lufkin) in Lufkin, Texas, after collapsing earlier in the day. [45] He suffered from cardiopulmonary arrest. [46] He was pronounced dead at 12:16 p.m. Central Time. [47] [48] "America has lost an extraordinary patriot whose life showed that one brave and determined person can alter the course of history," said Robert Gates, then United States Secretary of Defense. [49] [50]

Wilson received a graveside service with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on February 23, 2010. [51]

A six-piece jazz band punctuated each eulogy with Charlie's favorites "As Time Goes By", "My Way", and in honor of his years as a naval intelligence officer "Anchors Aweigh", and "Navy Hymn".

"He will be missed from the Golan Heights to the Khyber Pass, from the Caspian to the Suez and the halls in Congress, for his civility, and willingness to listen and help and not posture," said John Wing, [52] who worked closely with Wilson on global issues, the two forming a dynamic force in Afghanistan, as well as other regions. [53]

The front rows of the school's Temple Theater were packed with people such as Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, former U.S. Representative Martin Frost, former Lieutenant Governor Ben Barnes and Houston gas titan Oscar Wyatt and his wife Lynn.

After Sunday's service, his widow Barbara welcomed a small group of her late husband's intimates to their home on the golf course in Lufkin. Next to an American eagle sculpture in the living room, the words of Abdur Rahman Khan, emir of Afghanistan from 1880 to 1901, are emblazoned on a brass plaque: "My spirit will remain in Afghanistan even though my soul will go to God. My last words to you my son and successor are: Never Trust the Russians." [54]

Wilson's successful effort to increase the funding of the anti-Soviet Afghan war was revealed in the book Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History (2003), by George Crile III. In the 2007 film adaptation Charlie Wilson's War , actor Tom Hanks portrayed Wilson. [55] The film portrayed him as a politically incorrect swashbuckler who liked the company of beautiful women. [56]

Wilson cenotaph at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, Texas Charlie Wilson gravestone IMG 6165.jpg
Wilson cenotaph at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, Texas

Wilson was a key character in Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 (2005), by Steve Coll.

On December 27, 2007, the History Channel broadcast The True Story of Charlie Wilson, a two-hour documentary about the congressman's Afghan war efforts and his personal life.

See also

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George Crile III was an American journalist most closely associated with his three decades of work at CBS News.

The Soviet–Afghan War had an important impact in popular culture in the West, due to its scope, and the great number of countries involved. The Russian-Ukrainian film The 9th Company, for example, became a blockbuster in the former USSR earning millions of dollars and also representing a new trend in Russia in which some domestic films are "drawing Russian audiences away from Hollywood staples." The use of the war in Russian cinema has attracted scholarly attention as well. Some of this attention focuses on comparisons of the conflict with other modern wars in Vietnam and Iraq. Other work focuses on the war and fictional accounts of it in the context of Soviet military culture. Even when not directly portrayed, service in the war is sometimes used as a backstory for Russian characters to explain their combat prowess, such as in the manga and anime series Black Lagoon.

Joanne King Herring is an American socialite, businesswoman, political activist, philanthropist, diplomat, and former television talk show host. Hailing from Houston, Texas, she is best known for influencing policy through her long association and political relation with the President of Pakistan Zia-ul-Haq (1977–88). Herring also served as the honorary consul at the Consulate-General of Pakistan based in Houston; she is also the recipient of the Jinnah Medal, one of Pakistan's highest honors.

Free the Eagle is a neoconservative lobbying group based in Washington, D.C.. Neal Blair is the firm's President. Andrew Eiva joined the organization in 1984 as a paid Afghan lobbyist. Neil Blair believed that Eiva could rally conservatives who felt that the CIA, like the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission, was dominated by people of suspect patriotism.

Michael G. Vickers American warfare theorist

Michael George Vickers is an American defense official who served as the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence (USD-I) within the United States Department of Defense. He was born in Burbank, California. As USD-I, Vickers, who was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2010, was the Defense Department's top civilian military intelligence official. Before becoming USD-I, Vickers served as United States Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict.

Abd Al-Halim Abu-Ghazala Prime Minister of Egypt

Muhammad Abd Al-Halim Abu-Ghazala (1930–2008) was Defense Minister of Egypt from 1981 to 1989. Abu Ghazala was seated next to Anwar Sadat when the president was assassinated.

John Carter (Texas politician) U.S. Representative for Texass 31st congressional district

John Rice Carter is the U.S. Representative serving Texas's 31st congressional district since 2003. He is a Republican. The district includes the northern suburbs of Austin, as well as Fort Hood.

There have been various arrangements to handle the Central Intelligence Agency's relationship with the United States Congress.

Andrew Eiva is a human rights activist who helps oppressed people resist occupation and genocide.

<i>Charlie Wilsons War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History</i>

Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History was a 2003 book by George Crile III. It detailed U.S. Representative Charlie Wilson's role in providing assistance to the Afghan Mujahideen during the Soviet–Afghan War. It was adapted into the 2007 Mike Nichols film Charlie Wilson's War, in which Wilson was portrayed by Tom Hanks.

Charlie Wilson's War may refer to:


  1. Sharon Allison, interviewed by Scott Sosebee and Paul Sandul, June 17, 2011, part of the Charlie Wilson Oral History Project, available at the East Texas Research Center, Ralph W. Steen Library, Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas, hereafter referred to as ETRC.
  2. 1 2 3 Crile, Charlie Wilson's War.
  3. "The Largest Covert Operation in CIA History". Truthout. Retrieved November 6, 2011.[ dead link ]
  4. 1 2 George Slaughter. "Wilson, Charles Nesbitt [Charlie]". Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved December 4, 2011.
  5. Crile, Charlie Wilson's War, 25.
  6. Crile, Charlie Wilson's War, 112.
  7. Buddy Temple, interviewed by Archie McDonald, June 13, 2011, part of the Charlie Wilson Oral History Project, available at the ETRC.
  8. 1 2 Crile, Charlie Wilson's War, 28.
  9. Buddy Temple, McDonald, ETRC.
  10. "Charlie Wilson (D)". U. S. Congress Votes Database. Retrieved December 1, 2011.
  11. Francis E. Abernethy, "BIG THICKET", Handbook of Texas Online, published by the Texas State Historical Association, retrieved December 1, 2011,
  12. Kenworthy, Tom (August 20, 1990). "Congressman Charlie Wilson, Not Holding His Fire: The East Texas Democrat's Way with Women, and War". The Washington Post.
  13. Crile, Charlie Wilson's War, 31–33.
  14. Charles Wilson to Darvin M. Winick, Dickinson, TX, November 19, 1974, in Charlie Wilson Papers: Correspondence, Box 11, Folder 1, available at the ETRC.
  15. 1 2 Peggy Love, interviewed by Perky Beisel, March 25, 2011, part of the Charlie Wilson Oral History Project, available at the ETRC.
  16. Charles Wilson to W.H. Avery, Houston, TX, June 15, 1973, in Charlie Wilson Papers: Correspondence, Box 1, Folder 52, available at the ETRC.
  17. Ian Foley, interviewed by Troy Davis, March 25, 2011, part of the Charlie Wilson Oral History Project, available at the ETRC.
  18. Allison, interviewed by Sosebee and Sandul, ETRC.
  19. Archie McDonald, "Charlie Wilson", Nacogdoches, TX, October 31, 2011.
  20. House Defense Appropriations Subcommitte, Federal Register
  21. Crile, 214–5.
  22. Crile, 259–62.
  23. Crile, 409–13.
  24. The Wall Street Journal, December 28, 2007, p. W13[ full citation needed ]
  25. "US Congressman Who Backed Afghan Fighters Against the Soviets Dies". VOA. February 10, 2010. Archived from the original on February 12, 2010. Retrieved February 12, 2010.
  26. Winthrop, Lynn (November 11, 2003). "During book signing, Wilson recalls efforts to arm Afghans". The Lufkin Daily News. Archived from the original on November 20, 2007..
  27. Bergen, Peter, Holy War Inc., Free Press, (2001), p. 67
  28. Philip D. Duncan and Christine C. Lawrence, Congressional Quarterly's Politics in America 1996: the 104th Congress, CQ Press, 1996, p. 1254.
  29. In the Graveyard of Empires: America's War in Afghanistan. Seth G. Jones. Retrieved 12 April 2010.
  30. 1 2 Kenworthy, "Congressman Charlie Wilson, Not Holding His Fire.
  31. Joanne Herring, interviewed by Scott Sosebee and Perky Beisel, 2011, part of the Charlie Wilson Oral History Project, available at the ETRC.
  32. Maxa, Rudy (November 5, 1978). "Charles Wilson". The Washington Post .
  33. Collins, Nancy; Dalton, Joseph (August 14, 1978). "Not Quite a Disco, and Not a Club, but Just Well...Dashing". The Washington Post.
  34. Allison, Sosebee and Sandul, ETRC
  35. Grant, Meg (January 2008). "Tom Hanks and Charlie Wilson Interview". Reader's Digest. Archived from the original on May 31, 2008.
  36. Temple, McDonald, ETRC.
  37. 22 December 2007 Charlie Wilson, star of 'War,' says film does him justice Archived 2010-02-13 at the Wayback Machine
  38. Charlie Wilson's War
  39. George Crile, Charlie Wilson's War: the Extraordinary Story on the Largest Covert Operation in History (New York: Grove Press, 2004), 25–6.
  40. 22 December 2007 "The Real Charlie Wilson" ABC News
  41. Allison, Sosebee and Sandul, ETRC.
  42. Swoboda, Frank (January 4, 1988). "Texas Representative Wilson Legislate Revenge for Snub to Girlfriend". The Washington Post.
  43. Herring, Sosebee and Beisel, ETRC.
  44. Maxa, "Charles Wilson".
  45. "Charlie Wilson, lawmaker of movie fame, dies at 76". (February 10, 2010) Reuters. Retrieved February 10, 2010.
  46. Martin, Douglas (February 10, 2010). "Charlie Wilson, Texas Congressman Linked to Foreign Intrigue, Dies at 76". The New York Times . Retrieved February 10, 2010.
  47. "Charlie Wilson dies Archived 2016-02-08 at the Wayback Machine ". (February 10, 2010) KTRE. Retrieved February 10, 2010.
  48. O'Rourke, Breffni (February 11, 2010). "Charlie Wilson, Congressman Who Helped Drive Soviets Out Of Afghanistan, Is Dead". Radio Free Europe. Retrieved February 22, 2010.
  49. Bone, James (February 12, 2010). "Death of 'Goodtime Charlie' Wilson, the hot tub heretic who played with history". The Times . London. Retrieved February 22, 2010.
  50. "Editorial: Charlie Wilson was a colorful, consequential Texan". The Dallas Morning News . February 11, 2010. Retrieved February 22, 2010.
  51. "Memorial set for former Texas Rep. Charlie Wilson". Time Warner Cable News. February 11, 1010. Retrieved January 14, 2015.
  52. Alan Peppard (February 15, 2010). "Memorial remembers Charlie Wilson with laughter". The Dallas Morning News.
  53. "John Wing Obituary". The New York Times. July 19, 2015 via
  54. Michael Robert Patterson. ""Charles Wilson: Lieutenant, United States Navy, Member of Congress" . Retrieved December 4, 2011.[ permanent dead link ]
  55. ""Sticking to His Guns: Charlie Wilson: The Wild Card Image Was The Real Deal", By Peter Carlson, The Washington Post, December 22, 2007". The Washington Post. December 22, 2007. Retrieved 2010-02-11.
  56. "Charlie Wilson's Victory - The Democrat who helped win the Cold War"
Texas House of Representatives
Preceded by
William Winston
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from District 18  (Trinity)

Succeeded by
David Crews
Preceded by
Steve Burgess
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from District 6  (Lufkin)

Succeeded by
David Crews
Texas Senate
Preceded by
Martin Dies, Jr.
Texas State Senator
from  District 3 (Lufkin)

Succeeded by
Don Adams
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
John Dowdy
Member of the  U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Jim Turner