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Friday, February 12, 2010

Charlie Wilson remembered as friend of Israel

Former Congressman Charlie Wilson (D-Tx) died of a heart attack on Wednesday. He was 76. Wilson, pictured in his office in 1988 holding a British rifle is remembered by Politico's Laura Rozen as a friend of Israel, Pakistan and the CIA.
His friend Zvi Rafiah said Wilson died of a heart attack, following an earlier heart transplant operation.

Wilson is the second (former) House Appropriations defense subcommittee member to die this week, after John Murtha.

Wilson's seat on both the House appropriations defense and foreign ops subcommittees gave him huge -- and to the public largely invisible -- influence to finance the CIA's covert war against the Soviets in Afghanistan, and thus, guide the policy.

Both the book and film offer glimpses of Wilson enlisting Rafiah (actually a former Israeli embassy official but mis-portrayed in the film as an ex-Mossad arms dealer) to help procure stocks of Soviet weaponry Israel had seized in wars against then Soviet-backed Arab foes. The CIA was considering procuring the Soviet arms to supply to the Afghan mujahadeen -- to keep the U.S. role plausibly deniable.

No military hardware deal ever came of those discussions, Rafiah told me today.

"He was my best friend," Rafiah said of Wilson.

"I first met him on the second day of the Yom Kippur War in 1973," Rafiah said.

At the time, Rafiah was the Israeli embassy in Washington's first Congressional liaison. "I got a telephone call from our defense attache telling me that a congressman wants to get a briefing on the war."

"So I went up to his office. And in comes a tall guy, in a hat and boots, a real Texan," Rafiah recalled. "He was a graduate of the Annapolis Naval Academy, and he knew about wars ... I don't want to say it was love at first sight."

"And then when we got the first ceasefire, he went over there," Rafiah added.

"Charlie Wilson when he was a Congressman was one of the best friends that Israel had on Capitol Hill," Rafiah said, adding that Wilson was also a friend of Egypt and Pakistan, "but never at the expense of Israel."
Wilson served 12 terms in Congress before the Left took over the Democratic party.


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