Inside the Ring

The Washington Times | Bill Gertz | Dec. 21, 2007

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.

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