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The Congressman Charles Wilson Collection - Eyewitness Issues and Answers Segment (1983)

East Texas Research Center

Sound | 1983

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TAMI Tags
  •  A moderator asks Congressman Charles Wilson about his trips to Afghanistan 
  •  Wilson evades fully answering questions about the extent of United States aid to Afghanistan 
  •  Wilson discusses Lebanon and the War Powers Act 
  •  The disadvantages of America’s peacekeeping role 
  •  Wilson evaluates the recent actions of Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill 
 
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In this segment from 1983, Congressman Charles Wilson is the guest on the Houston show, Eyewitness Issues and Answers. Topics of this interview center heavily on Wilson’s position with the House Defense Appropriations Committee, and the interviewers prompt Wilson for his stance on America’s involvement in Afghanistan against Soviet forces. Wilson supports the Afghan Freedom Fighters and explains that Russian morale is low.
Charles Nesbitt “Charlie” Wilson was a 12-term Democratic United States Representative from January 3, 1976 until October 8, 1996. As a congressman, he served Texas’s second congressional district, which included Harris, Jefferson, and Liberty Counties. He is perhaps best known for his congressional leadership in Operation Cyclone, the largest CIA covert operation in history, which supplied military equipment to Afghanistan during the Soviet Invasion in 1979. Wilson’s efforts were successful in this arena, and the Soviet Army withdrew form Afghanistan in 1989.  
 
Wilson was born on June 1, 1933 in Trinity, Texas to Charles and Wilmuth Wilson. He graduated from Trinity High School in 1951, then attended Sam Houston State Teachers College where he received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy. At the Academy, he received the second most demerits in its history and graduated eighth from the bottom of his class in 1956 with a B. S. in engineering. This did not stand in the way of Wilson later achieving the rank of lieutenant, and during his time as a staff officer at the Pentagon, he volunteered for the Kennedy campaign and decided to enter political office himself. 
 
Wilson’s first interest in politics had come at an early age, after a fight with an elected-official neighbor who killed Wilson’s dog. The neighbor was upset that the dog had wandered into his yard and fed the dog glass, killing it. Wilson retaliated with political action, driving voters to the polls while spreading the story of his dog’s murder. His efforts resulted in his neighbor losing the election by 16 votes.  
 
During his congressional tenure, Wilson was often called “Good Time Charlie,” known for socializing with attractive women and enjoying alcohol. He embraced this reputation. Further, although he was hawkish on foreign issues, he was liberal on many domestic issues, including women’s rights, social security, and abortion. George Crile III captured these aspects of Wilson’s personal and political life in his 2003 book, Charlie Wilson’s War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History, which was later adapted into the 2007 film Charlie Wilson’s War, starring Tom Hanks as Charles Wilson. Wilson died in 2010 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.