Former Texas congressman to speak on campus

Charlie Wilson is coming to TCU. Not Tom Hanks, the real Charlie Wilson.

The former congressman from Texas and the subject of the Oscar-nominated movie, “Charlie Wilson’s War,” will speak at the annual Jim Wright Symposium on Wednesday.

Jim Riddlesperger, a political science professor specializing in American politics, said he was elated to have Wilson, a long-time friend of Wright, attend the symposium.

“We have a committee of people get together and talk about the Wright Symposium each year,” he said. “And Jim Wright called and said, ‘what if I could get Charlie Wilson to come?’ and I said, ‘That would be wonderful.'”

Wilson’s participation in one of the CIA’s largest and most expensive secret operation, also known as “Operation Cyclone,” granted him prominence. Ralph Carter, a political science professor and department chair, said Wilson may talk about his involvement in the operation.

Riddlesperger said Wilson would also discuss the aftermath of the real Charlie Wilson’s war.

“His focus was on keeping the Russians out of Afghanistan to keep [the country] independent and have it in the spirit of American influence rather than the Soviet influence,” he said. “But after the war was over, in his perspective, the United States didn’t follow-up and invest in Afghanistan.”

Charlie Wilson was the only civilian who received the CIA’s Honored Colleague Award for his efforts to strengthen and support the cause of the Afghan freedom fighters. He was also awarded the Afghan Freedom Medal.

The Daily Texan, the University of Texas’ campus newspaper, reported Thursday that a dozen professors sent a letter of protest to administrators against the university’s decision to endow a Charlie Wilson Chair in Pakistan studies. According to The Daily Texan, faculty members said naming the chair after the former Texas congressman would advocate an “ideological and romanticized vision of his legacy,” which led to the rise of the Taliban, the letter claimed.

The Daily Texan reported that Randy Diehl, UT’s Liberal Arts dean, said in a written statement released Wednesday that despite protests, the plans to endow a Pakistan studies chair bearing Wilson’s name will continue.

The Jim Wright Symposium will be in the Brown-Lupton University Union Ballroom today at noon.

TCU Extended Education representatives said all tickets are sold out, and all seats are filled.