But by doing so, Zia and Wilson gained the most powerful ally one could want when it came to appropriations. With Doc Long's support, Wilson was able to obtain $40 million from the Defense Appropriations subcommittee; a group of eleven elected officials who meet behind closed doors and decide how to spend billions of dollars. And since the recommendations from the committee have to be voted on by the full House without the specifics of where the money is being sent, Charlie Wilson was able to appropriate the money without any public knowledge. This was important because the participation of the United States in the arming of Afghan mujahideen had to be kept a secret or else it risked direct war with the Soviet Union.
Part of Charlie Wilson's ability to convince the other members of the U.S. House of Representatives to vote for his appropriations was the fact that Charlie Wilson was a very well-liked man in congress. He came from a small district in eastern Texas, the Second Congressional District, and his then home town of Trinity Texas, population just 2,468, had thirty-three churches. It was said that because all his constituents wanted was their God and their guns, and not much more, he could trade his votes on issues inconsequential to his constituents for favors that he could later call in. It was through this means that Charlie Wilson was able to get the initial $40 million, and later hundreds of millions of dollars, through the House of Representatives.
Another aspect of Charlie Wilson's ability to provide military assistance to the Afghan mujahideen in their fight against the Soviet Union was his ability to hide his actions from the public and press. Luckily for him those who were tasked with discovering abuse and corruption in the government focused their attention on him. As "Good Time Charlie," Wilson was known for his heavy drinking, drug use, and sexual escapades with women; a man no one would suspect of organizing and funding a secret war against the Soviet Union. For instance, his 1983 drug charges cemented his image as "Good Time Charlie" with the Soviet Union's intelligence analysts who's job it was to monitor possible threats from inside the United States Congress. They never suspected that it was Charlie Wilson, "party-animal," "boozer," and "womanizer," who loved, as he later admitted, "…sticking it to the Russians." ("Who is Charlie Wilson")
In 2007 the movie depicting Charlie Wilson's secret war against the Soviet Union was released starring Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Philip Seymour Hoffman and, while nowhere near a documentary on the subject, it did provide a compelling and somewhat realistic account of what really happened and how. Charlie Wilson was a hard drinking, hard partying congressman from a district that was safe from any political competitors; and as a result, Wilson was able to trade votes in congress for influential appointments and future favors. But it was the insistence of a political supporter, Joanne Herring, that put Charlie Wilson in a position to see with his own eyes the terrible suffering of the Afghan people at the hands of the Soviet invaders. This spurred him to use his position on secret appropriations subcommittees to gain the support of Clearance "Doc" Long, the head of the powerful Congressional Appropriations Committee. This, along with his natural charm and the many favors owed to him, allowed Wilson to quietly slip through millions of dollars in military support, particularly stinger missiles, for the Afghan mujahideen. With the aid of a CIA operative, Gust Avrakotos, hundreds of millions of dollars worth of high-tech military hardware found its way through Pakistan and into the hands of the Afghans fighting the Soviet Union. Thanks in part to the work of Charlie Wilson and the rest of his team, the Soviet Union withdrew the last of its troops from Afghanistan on February 15, 1989.
Crile, George. Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert
Operation in History. New York: Atlantic Monthly, 2003. Print.
Grau, Lester, and Michael Gress. The Soviet Afghan War: How a Superpower Fought and Lost. Lawrence, Kansas: University of Kansas, 2002. Print.
Sperling, Godfrey. "Mondale in '84, He May Run if Jimmy Carter Doesn't." the
Christian Science Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor, 10 Mar. 1981. Web 1
May 2012. http://www.csmonitor.com/1981/0310/031029.html