Friday, January 25, 2008

Charlie Wilson's War - Classic Disinformation.

Charlie Wilson's War - Classic Disinformation.

Charlie Wilson's War opens with the silhouette of a mujahidin firing a shoulder-mounted surface-to-air missile at the movie audience. Unfortunately for the target audience, the rocket being fired at them is tipped with "Grade A" U.S. Government-Approved Propaganda.

Admittedly, the mujahidin did use SAMs in their battles against the Soviet army, so the film-makers did get that right. Charlie Wilson is portrayed as a womanizer and a boozehound, and they got that right, too.

Ultimately, however, the film is based on an a priori lie. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan wasn't a Cinderella story that came out of nowhere. It was preceded by a decision from Democratic President Jimmy Carter to green light a CIA covert operation in Afghanistan to support the opponents of the pro-Soviet government in Kabul. The U.S. instigated the military onslaught that the Soviet army brought to bear on Afghanistan. Therefore, later on in the movie when Tom Hanks sees the humanitarian crisis that the Afghan people are suffering, due to the Soviet invasion, he shouldn't be "feeling their pain"... he should be racked with guilt. Those mangled children and widows are the first victims of a covert operation that continues to this day.

To be fair, it wasn't the idea of the film-makers to obscure the causus belli of the Afghanistan invasion. This has been perpetuated by the highly compromised American corporate press for decades, and remained hidden until, ironically enough, current Defense Secretary Robert Gates spilled the beans in his 1996 book, "From the Shadows", and was confirmed in 1998 by CFR frontman, Zbigniew Brzezinksi. By the end of 2001, many critical researchers of 9/11 had seen William Blum's translation of Brzezinski's interview posted at Michel Chossudovsky's Global Research website. (For anyone even moderately familiar with this semi-hidden history, there is a moment of unintentional hilarity when the Pakistani President Zia comments that the CIA "missed" the Soviet invasion. Actually, it's a lie, so not really that funny.)

So by 2003, (when Charlie Wilson's War was first published), any serious writer laying down the history of the CIA in Afghanistan surely would have done a few internet searches that would have turned up this key information. George Crile apparently does not know how to use the "google". It is early in the first chapter of his book where he reinforces the lie that President Carter, with a bag of peanuts in one hand, a Bible in the other, and drunken brother Billy, just had to respond to those evildoers at the Kremlin, and get the CIA involved in Afghanistan. Perhaps sensing that a good chunk of the American population is probably hip to Carter's Machiavellian chess-move, the film-makers just went ahead and skipped the whole "CIA initiating the Soviet invasion" thing.

Interestingly the film explores the relationship between Wilson and Zvi Rafiah, an Israeli who had a long relationship with Wilson, earned his trust, and is suspected by Wilson of being a highly placed MOSSAD agent (Wilson doesn't air his suspicion in the film, only the book). The film depicts meetings between Wilson and Rafiah outside of the congressman's office on the beltway or in Egypt where they broker an arms deal. If you read the book, however, Rafiah is portrayed as someone with exceptional access to Wilson's office and staff, assigning tasks to the staff and using the office telephone. Rafiah had previously been accused of spying for Israel, and was allegedly offered classified documents by one Dr. Stephen Bryen, with an AIPAC director looking on.

The only other foreigner with such unparalleled access to Wilson is Abu Ghazala, who is portrayed in the film by Iharon Ipale. Ghazala hooks up Wilson, and thus, the mujahidin with a wide arsenal of hardware and bombs. Ghazala the Egyptian is later implicated in a missile supplying scheme for which he is never charged. James Webb calls the scheme the "Condor II" project, (the intent of the project being: to supply Iraq with a nuclear-capable ballistic missile), in his book, "Spider's Web - The secret history of how the White House illegally armed Iraq" (Bantam, 1993, p.33).

Ghazala and Rafiah typify the type of arms dealers that would arm the mujahidin covertly, but Crile, like Steve Coll and other establishment-friendly authors conveniently leave out BCCI, and associated arms dealers like Monzer Al-Kassar, a "Syrian drug trafficker, terrorist, and arms trafficker", who used the BCCI to launder drug and weapon money.

The film, thus, makes no mention of BCCI either, even though CIA director Casey used it to grease the skids for getting weapons to the mujahidin, over and above the few million that the Congress approved. In his recent book, The Road to 9/11, Peter Dale Scott describes BCCI as a definite asset for the CIAs campaign;

"...A book coauthored by Wall Street Journal reporter Peter Truell tells us that in the "campaign to aid the Afghan rebels ... BCCI clearly emerged as a US intelligence asset." A book by two senior writers for Time confirms that in the words of a US intelligence agent, "Casey began to use the outside - the Saudis, the Pakistanis, BCCI - to run what they couldn't get through Congress. [BCCI president] Abedi had the money to help." (Both books corroborate that Casey met repeatedly with BCCI president Abedi.) Thus BCCI enabled Casey to conduct foreign policy without the constraints imposed by the public democratic state. Our archival and mainstream histories have not yet acknowledged this.

As the US commitment to the anti-Soviet campaign in Afghanistan increased, the relative importance of BCCI's contribution probably diminished. But one of the causes for the disastrously skewed US campaign in Afghanistan was the importance of BCCI and the drug traffic at the outset." (UC Press, 2007, p.p.116-117)

Oh yeah, the drug traffic. The CIA has always denied being involved with it, but they ran the men on the ground in Afghanistan who were main players in the drug trade, like Gulbaddin Hekmatyar. The only mention in the film about drugs is that Wilson snorted coke occasionally. (Melissa Roddy gives a good rundown of the disinformation in the film that stands in place of the missing Hekmatyar.)

And where did all the mujahidin come from? They were not all Afghans. The CIA helped the ISI recruit fighters from all over the world. (This is one of the few things that Steve Coll fleshes out fairly well in Ghost Wars, but it is really tough reading considering everything that Coll omits.) But you would never know this from watching Charlie Wilson's War. (For further historical failings of the film, Chalmers Johnson's review is worth a look, alas, Johnson still wallows in the mire of "blowback".)

Ultimately, the film is disinformation. It portrays an unrealistic representation of the Afghan conflict, covers up its US-inspired origin, covers up the links to Afghan opium/heroin money laundering, covers up the recruitment of mujahidin from all over the world for the "foreign legion" in Afghanistan by the CIA.

It's bad business, and what's worse, Hanks' Playtone production company is slated to apply its skills to the Kennedy assassination. Fortunately, there is a bit of a firewall in place for that piece of crap coming down the pipe.

I don't have enough thumbs to convey my disgust with this film.

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