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Former congressman Charlie Wilson helped fund Afghanistan's resistance to the Soviet Union. His story was told in the book and film Charlie Wilson's War.
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The appropriation for Afghanistan grew from a few million dollars in the early 1980s to an astounding $750 million a year by the end of the decade. As the money began to flow,
the CIA put Gust Avrakotos in charge of the operation. Avrakotos formed a small band of agency officers who arranged to have weapons and satellite intelligence maps sent across Pakistan's border into Afghanistan on the backs of mules.
In 1986, then-U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani from the Southern District of New York, on the hunt for white collar crime, investigated Wilson for allegedly snorting cocaine at a hot-tub party in Las Vegas.
When the last Soviet soldier left Afghanistan in February 1989, Wilson was invited to celebrate at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. On a large movie screen in an auditorium flashed a huge quotation from Pakistan's president, General Mohammad Zia ul-Haq: "Charlie did it." The Soviet Union collapsed two years later.
A Hollywood film version of Crile's book was released on December 21, 2007. The film starred Tom Hanks as Charlie Wilson, Julia Roberts as conservative supporter Joanne Herring, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Gust Avrakotos, an American case officer and Afghan Task Force Chief for the United States Central Intelligence Agency.
Charlie Wilson died on February 10, 2010 at the age of 76 from cardiopulmonary arrest.
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