Remembering Congressman Charlie Wilson

Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks i i

Tom Hanks starred as maverick Texas congressman Charlie Wilson (opposite Julia Roberts as anti-Communist socialite Joanne Herring) in the 2007 film Charlie Wilson's War. Francois Duhamel/Universal Pictures hide caption

itoggle caption Francois Duhamel/Universal Pictures
Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks starred as maverick Texas congressman Charlie Wilson (opposite Julia Roberts as anti-Communist socialite Joanne Herring) in the 2007 film Charlie Wilson's War.

Francois Duhamel/Universal Pictures

At one point in the 1980s, more than 300,000 Afghan mujahedeen — warriors fighting back during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan — carried CIA-provided weapons. Rep. Charlie Wilson, the brash, controversial Texas Democrat who persuaded Congress to arm them, died this week at the age of 76.

Wilson's activities during the weapons-smuggling project were well documented, first in the book Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History, by 60 Minutes producer George Crile, and then in the 2007 Mike Nichols film Charlie Wilson's War, which starred Tom Hanks as Wilson.

In 2003, both Wilson and Crile sat down with Fresh Air to discuss Wilson's involvement in the CIA-funding weapons project as well as the unintended consequences of supporting the mission.

This interview was first broadcast May 13, 2003

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