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CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR

Background Of The Film
By 1979, Congressman Charlie Wilson had, in peerless fashion, represented Texas' 2nd District for six years. "The liberal from Lufkin” was a paradox who routinely championed the disempowered. He battled for women's rights and seniors' tax exemptions, but the native Texan also opposed gun control. His black constituents were his biggest supporters; he was pro-choice in the Bible Belt. His district loved him. On Capitol Hill, Wilson was perhaps better known for the personal foibles that accompanied his growing political capital. He surrounded himself with a bevy of beautiful assistants, dubbed, naturally, "The Angels.” With his 6'4” frame, booming voice, quick wit and infinite charm, he had a way with the ladies helped by a love of the whiskey. Scandal seemed to follow him everywhere, but as he was so affable, Wilson always managed to dodge any damage. And of all the events occurring in 1979, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan seemed least likely to appear on his radar. Then again, nothing Wilson did could ever be described as likely.

The public revelation of Wilson's extraordinary exploits began with a 60 Minutes profile produced by award-winning journalist George Crile in 1988. Crile continued to follow the story and wrote a best-selling book about Wilson's covert war that read like a novel, except it wasn't fiction. As Crile noted in his book, "It was January of 1989, just as the Red Army was preparing to withdraw its soldiers from Afghanistan, when Charlie Wilson called to invite me to join him on a fact-finding tour of the Middle East. I had produced a 60 Minutes profile of Wilson several months earlier and had no intention of digging further into his role in the Afghan war. But I quickly accepted the invitation.

The trip began in Kuwait, moved to Saddam Hussein's Iraq, and then to Saudi Arabia—a grand tour that took us all to three of the countries that would soon take center stage in the Gulf War. For me, the trip was just the beginning of a decade-long odyssey.”

Wilson's outrageous tale of international intrigue and global politicking, cast with colorful characters who dreamed of glory, captivated the veteran reporter. It also proved to be an extraordinary challenge to document the confounding saga of Muslim fundamentalists, Jewish arms dealers and CIA agents working in tandem with two Texans and a Greek-American CIA agent. Crile's wife, publisher Susan Lyne, explains: "No one involved knew the whole story. Charlie knew his part; Gust his, Joanne hers. George interviewed Charlie and Gust many times over many years and as they learned to trust him, they gave up a little more each time. George had to put all the pieces together and then find a narrative arc that would invest the reader in the characters and the outcome.”

Obtaining and deciphering the material was a monumental task, especially since Crile never quit his day job. "The time it took seems ridiculous [13 years from that first trip to publication], but he was unraveling secret deals with countries that don't even acknowledge each other, CIA covert ops and the inner workings of congressional committees,” Lyne recalls.

Her sister, Barbara, became Crile's cheerleader and sometime gadfly— supporting, editing and otherwise urging him to finish the book. She was so instrumental to his process that he dedicated the book to her.

"I think what intrigued him was that this was such an American story, with fallible characters who—underneath the gruffness and drinking and womanizing—had dreams of glory,” Barbara Lyne explains. "They responded to these underdogs, the Afghan Mujahideen, and believed they could make a difference in the world. Lots of people have dreams of glory, but, occasionally, the stars align just right and three or four people come together and something huge blossoms. George loved redemption stories, and lov

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