Stephen F. Austin State University

Charles A. Schnabel, Jr.


Charles A. Schnabel Jr. was born in San Antonio, Texas on February 14, 1932. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in Bacteriology and a M.A. in Public Administration. Schnabel served the Texas Senate as the Reading Clerk to the Texas House of Representatives. He was promoted to serve as the Secretary of the Senate and held this position for twenty-three years. He began his career with Charlie Wilson in 1985 as his second Administrative Assistant till 1991.

Interview Notes

Interviewer's Name: M. Scott Sosebee

Interview Date and Location: The interview was conducted on March 25, 2011, in the office of the East Texas Historical Association on the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University.

Context Notes: Interview and transcription completed in conjunction with the Charlie Wilson Oral History Project at Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas (Spring 2011).

There are several times in the interview that the listener can hear background noise of someone coughing and opening and closing a door of the East Texas Historical Association Office. Sosebee also coughs several times during the interview. Finally, throughout the interview Sosebee and Schnabel laugh at stories about Schnabel's work and Charlie Wilson.

Tapes and Interview Record: The original recordings of the interview and a full transcript are held by the East Texas Research Center, R. W. Steen Library, Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas.

Transcription Notes: The policy of the Charlie Wilson Oral History Project has been to eliminate false starts and crutch words from transcriptions when determined not to affect the meaning and flow of the spoken word. Obviously, and admittedly, this is a subjective endeavor and all care was taken to maintain the integrity of the interview.

The interviewer M. Scott Sosebee is identified as SOSEBEE. Charles Schnabel is identified as SCHNABEL.



SOSEBEE: I am Scott Sosebee and this is an oral history interview for the Charlie Wilson Oral History Project. An endeavor coordinated by the Stephen F. Austin State University College of Liberal and Applied Arts and the Department of History in conjunction with the East Texas Research Center and the Center for Regional Heritage [Research]. I am conducting this interview with Mr. Charles Schnabel, former Chief of Staff for Congressman Wilson. With us here also is a friend of Mr. Schnabel, Drew Wise, whose actually a student here at Stephen F. Austin State University and were glad to have him here listening to us. It is March 25th, 2011 and we're in the office of the East Texas Historical Association. Charles, welcome. We're glad you're here. This is a great thing that we're doing. I think to get this, thoughts down about Charlie, and so we can start getting a good handle on his legacy. Before we get started, I mean as we get started, tell us something about yourself. Tell us about your background, your education, how you got involved in politics, working for Charlie.

SCHNABEL: Well I was a student at the University of Texas in 1953 and all the good looking girls in Austin worked at the capital [Sosebee laughs] so I got a job at the capital. And went to work for the then Secretary of the Senate. And my first job with the Senate in 1953, [to even] when Charlie was a member, was to read the messages from the senate to the House. Mr. Speaker, I'm directed by the Senate to inform the House that the Senate has passed the following. And I would read that message. That was my first job. At the end of the next session, the then Lieutenant Governor Ben Ramsey, who was from here in East Texas, said that the Secretary of the Senate was leaving and would I be willing to be the acting Secretary of the Senate until they could find somebody to do the job. Well that lasted for twenty-three years [Schnabel and Sosebee laugh].

SOSEBEE: Heck of an interim job.

SCHNABEL: Yes. And during those years I served with a hundred Senators, coming and going. And it was a very interesting job, especially when Charlie Wilson showed up in the Senate. That was 1967 I believe, and Charlie was a different Senator.

SOSEBEE: How so? What was different?

SCHNABEL: Well he was young for one thing, and for another thing he did not dress appropriately. He came to the Senate with a red vest on under his coat and instead of him coming in through the brass rail and taking his seat he straddle hopped the rail to get his back corner seat. And the Senate kind of looked at this guy, "Who is this?"

SOSEBEE: Of course they would. Cause as tall as he was . . .

SCHNABEL: Yeah, 6'5", and you know it was easy for him just to straddle hop the brass rail, nobody ever did that. Anyway, that was his kind of introduction to the Senate. Charlie was very much a populist and only participated in the debate of things that he could participate in. Charlie was very much stewed on the real things that were happening because the source of power was the then Lieutenant Governor, Ben Barnes, and if you, if you close to Barnes, you're close to what is going on.

SOSEBEE: Was he close to Barnes?

SCHNABEL: He was close to Barnes.

SOSEBEE: And so, when did you go to work for Charlie

SCHNABEL: Well, I worked for Charlie and thirty other Senators for the six years that he was in the Texas Senate. And During those six years, I got very closely involved with Senator Wilson. If I hired a very attractive person to be on my staff, and he liked that person, then he would transfer her to his staff and that was the original "Charlie's Angels," then later got to be a very famous term, because Charlie was always . . . known as to hiring beautiful women and he did that when he first came to the Senate in '67 and then that followed him. Charlie's Angels, all the group of beautiful women that worked for Charlie in D.C.

SOSEBEE: Did you ever work for him in a district office after he was the congressman.


SOSEBEE: So you? The next time you worked directly for him was when you became his Chief of Staff [Administrative Assistant]?

SCHNABEL: Correct.

SOSEBEE: And what year was that?

SCHNABEL: That was '84.

SOSEBEE: 1984. So you served from '84 through . . .


SOSEBEE: '91. So Peyton [Walters] followed you as Chief of Staff.

SCHNABEL: Correct. Yeah. I followed Charles Simpson. Charles Simpson left Charlie and went with [US] Senator [Lloyd] Bentsen [of Texas] and I came to Washington.

SOSEBEE: What kind of a change was that from being Secretary of the Texas Senate to being a chief of staff to a U.S. Congressman?

SCHNABEL: Well, it was easy because instead of having thirty-one bosses, I had just one [Sosebee laughs] and, that was a blessing. While Charlie was a senator . . . he thought he was the only senator. And, Charlie and I developed a personal relationship, to the point that every time he was in trouble, I was the one that was going to get him out of trouble. And if Charlie is with a staffer and their out and she gets drunk and somebody needed to come get her and take her home, I would get a telephone call.

SOSEBEE: You have to do that very often?

SCHNABEL: I don't know how often is very often [Sosebee laughs] but it would occur from time to time, and then when Charlie would get in trouble, with the law, he didn't have an attorney to get him out of trouble, it was me that was getting him out of trouble and like on one DWI [Driving While Intoxicated] occasion that was very serious. Let me back up and say, I had the District Attorney's wife and the County Attorney's wife on my payroll. So I could communicate and when Charlie got in trouble, then I could communicate. And that last occasion Charlie really was drunk, it really was driven while . . .

SOSEBEE: Is this the famous bridge incident?

SCHNABEL: No, no this is in Austin, Texas.

SOSEBEE: Oh, okay.

SCHNABEL: This is before the 14th Street Bridge jumped out in front of Charlie's car. This was in Austin and it was just before an election time, and the news had really started picking up on Charlie and so I was able to persuade the charge to be changed from DWI to DWID [Driving While Intoxicated by Drugs], then I convinced the judge that prosecuted Charlie that was medicated with because of a sinus infection and that this was really the problem and so they did change it to DWID and that was just on one occasion when Charlie managed to be in trouble . . . I was sort of the one to get him out of trouble.

SOSEBEE: Well that sometimes, that's . . . a good job to have . . .

SCHNABEL: It wasn't just Charlie, you know, there were thirty-one senators and they weren't all lily white.

SOSEBEE: Oh, I'm sure.

SCHNABEL: And, at one point, there was the news that came out that I was the nurse maid of the Texas Senate.

SOSEBEE: Well, you were serving then. . . . Your experience in Senate is fascinating to me and you were serving during a time of great conflict and tension within the state Democratic Party. The inner fighting going on between the liberals and conservative factions? All that was going on, how did that affect the working of the Senate?

SCHNABEL: It divided the Senate, no doubt. See, when I first went to work for the Senate, there were no Republicans. They were-you were either a conservative Democrat of a liberal Democrat. Then there were twenty-five conservative Democrats and six liberal Democrats and so it was a Democrat-controlled Senate. As Republicans got in and as the times started changing, it you were a conservative Democrat, you really were kind of a Republican. And then the left-wing Democrats . . . trenched in to be what they were and this did divide the Senate. Because when a majority is twenty five to six, that's not enough to divide the Senate. But when it gets down to pretty close, between conservatives and liberals, and then threw in [O. H.] "Ike" Harris, the first Republican [who served as a member of the Texas House of Representatives from 1963-65 and in the Texas Senate from 1967 to 1995], who had their caucus in the telephone booth [Schnabel and Sosebee laugh]. Yeah, it did cause a break down.

SOSEBEE: Just, this is kind of my own personal edification, did you know Creekmore Fath [Fath was the well-known secretary-treasurer for the Democrats of Texas (DOT), the more liberal faction in Texas, and worked with, and sometimes against, Sam Rayburn, Lyndon B. Johnson, and a number of other well-known politicians in Texas; he helped raise money for DOT and public awareness of their political views].


SOSEBEE: I did my master's thesis on this liberal conservative split and I interviewed Creekmore.

SCHNABEL: Well he was the ultimate liberal Democrat.

SOSEBEE: He was so fascinating, he was so fascinating, and I tell this story because . . . it makes me just smile every time. He and I were visiting and interviewing about Lyndon Johnson and we were talking about particularly when Johnson in the '54 and '56 state conventions and he and Shivers were kind of vying for who's going to be the most powerful democrat and Fath talks about how because they hated [Texas Governor Allan] Shivers [who, as a Democrat, famously broke with the Democratic Party and threw his support behind Dwight D. Eisenhower], they, through his organization, the liberal Democrats of Texas threw their support behind Johnson. And when I interviewed Fath, I think he was already in his nineties at that time. But and I remember he leaned forward and he goes, he goes, "And he screwed us. Lyndon screwed us every time." He said "I never trusted that son of a bitch again." And then he went off on this treatise, of course, and it seemed like he had ended up disliking Lyndon Johnson, who was probably close to his ideological brother than he did Alan Shivers. How about Charlie in that situation? Now he would . . . his moniker became, you know, later, they, some people, called him the "Liberal from Lufkin." He had this reputation as being fairly progressive. How did he fit into that?

SCHNABEL: You know Charlie, Charlie was a populist and he didn't run with the Creekmore Faths. He didn't run with the extreme liberal end. Charlie stayed pretty close to the middle. He voted for the sales tax. He voted with the conservatives on I think the creation of P.U.C. [Public Utility Commission]. And, I can't remember the other thing, but he never was on an extreme position on just about any issue.

SOSEBEE: Do you think that was a conscious decision or that's just who he was.

SCHNABEL: That's who he was. Charlie was Charlie. He wasn't a joiner to get with this click or this coalition of the Senate or another one. And yet, he was with all of them. It was his commanding presence that caused him to be where he was.

SOSEBEE: Well, he was always seemingly able to, of course, compromise and make coalitions, which I think was one of his advantages. He was a big supporter of civil rights. He was a big supporter of women's rights.

SCHNABEL: Without a doubt.

SOSEBEE: He was instrumental in, well you tell the story. You were there. How about his involvement in Texas E.R.A Legislation [Equal Rights Amendment]? He was in involved in that wasn't he?

SCHNABEL: He was in involved in that. That was '64, '63 and '65; very much so. And was the leader. I don't think he carried the legislation. I'm not sure he was a big advocate. He might have carried some of those deals, but without a doubt, he was a big advocate of the E.R.A.

SOSEBEE: And the civil rights. He was a huge advocate of civil rights. His district, I mean, this is deep East Texas and civil rights was a very contentious issue amongst many of his constituents without a doubt. Tell us how was Charlie able, because I think this is one of the most fascinating things about him. Here's a man who was able to be not just a supporter of civil rights, very publically a supporter of civil rights to a large extent. Yet, continued to be elected in this district, which included a lot of people who were not for such legislation. How was he able to do that?

SCHNABEL: He was able to do that with personality, with a presence. You know, Bible Belt, East Texas was Charlie's district. Was Charlie Bible Belt? No. How did East Texas Bible Belt deal with Charlie? "We know the way he is, but he's ours . . . he ours. We love him. Who cares? We love him. He's our guy. He don't come to church with us, but he's our guy."

SOSEBEE: It was the same thing with the civil rights; he's a supporter and we know that and maybe we're not but . . .

SCHNABEL: "But he's ours because we can communicate with him. We can talk to him. He can come and talk to us."

SOSEBEE: Was there, to some extent, was it just brutal honesty. He told them exactly, this is what I stand for, and people, they . . . bought it . . .

SCHNABEL: Yeah, it's like Charlie was when they were going to make the movie and I said, "Charlie, all your lured past is going to come up in that movie. How does that make you feel?" "Well it's all true." You know, he didn't; he was what he is. And if people can be what they are in in politics right now it would be a huge change.

SOSEBEE: What do you think, how would Charlie deal, and I know because he, we are saying this like he, he just been passed for a little more than a year and I'm sure you talked with him many times about this even after he left government service. What was his thoughts on this new partisanship, this divide that's going on in the country in the congress?

SCHNABEL: Charlie new that he couldn't do anything about it. And so he rode it the best way he could. He, you know, he was close to [Speaker of the House, Democratic US Representative from Massachusetts] Tip O'Neal. Very close to Tip O'Neal. And was close to [Speaker of the House, Democratic US Representative from Texas] Jim Wright. But Charlie liked to say, you know, here's Tip O'Neal that's giving the president unstirred hell in the newspaper and they're golfing buddies on Sunday afternoons. And see, this impacted Charlie.

SOSEBEE: I don't know if we see that anymore either.

SCHNABEL: Oh no, you don't see it anymore. But it impacted Charlie. I can be what I am, but I can still communicate with these guys. And that's a tremendous blessing to be able to have the frame of mind, to be in bitter opposition, but to not let it become a personal animosity. Charlie didn't hate anybody. And you know he had a whole bunch of girlfriends. And he never left a woman scorned. Now look at . . .

SOSEBEE: Can't imagine that happening [Sosebee laughs] . . .

SCHNABEL: Yeah, I mean, think about that. I mean its Charlie Wilson to have eight or nine girlfriends in a rotation and they all knew it, and if he ever dropped one, he never left one scorned. And had he left one scorned it might have been very uncomfortable. Give you an example. Sweetums [Annelise Ilschenko] was, you know, the rotations all had nicknames, Firecracker, Cupcake, Jailbreak, Snowflake. Sweetums was the one that was Miss World, that, that he was going to marry. And a very unfortunate thing happened that we probably don't need to go into the details about that, but there was a time when a real split came between Charlie and Sweetums. And Charlie worried about Sweetums a little bit because Sweetums knew a lot of inside stuff that Charlie was doing and . . . I'm going to say maybe questionable stuff. And see, Sweetums had gone with him to Pakistan on a bunch of trips. She was the one that was going to get on the plane and they wouldn't let her on because she, the president said, well take my plane; that story, that I think is pretty well known. But when they split, there was a bit of an unfortunate split. And so Sweetums came close to being a woman scorned. And so Charlie got her a job with an international shipping corporation. And called the guy. "Yeah I'll give her a job"; because Charlie had helped him a lot. Well, Sweetums went to work for them, and it really, it really wasn't a job. It was just a place to go to work. And she called me and she was just bored to death. And, she was going to get Charlie to find her something else, and I said, "Now Sweetums, wait, just wait a little while longer." And in the meantime, we had the things going at Diego at Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka was begging for some jeeps and five ton trucks. And, and so I had some dealing with . . . with an agency of state government that gave away stuff, cause we had dealt with them to get a lot of stuff for the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. Blankets, sleeping bags, a whole bunch of stuff that was surplus property agency, well I discovered that there's a lot of five ton trucks and jeeps in the Philippines and they wanted them in Sri Lanka. Well guess whose shipping line, shipped all of those trucks from the Philippines to Sri Lanka? And who got credit for making the whole deal. It was Sweetums. It was Sweetuns. So now she's got status with this company. And so he was not going to leave a woman scorned. And in politics he never left the opposition scorned.

SOSEBEE: Now that's what I was going to say. It that probably translates a lot to why he was such a compromiser and could get things done.

SCHNABEL: You never, you never were mad at Charlie for what he was doing, because what he was doing is what he was doing to represent people in his district.

SOSEBEE: And that brings a point up that . . . it's always been, you know, Charlie's been, you know, everybody you talk to that knows Charlie, his main philosophy, was working for the homefolks. Bringing things home for the homefolks. He had a lot of innovations in that. What is it that made him? We may go back to this honesty thing we're talking about. What is this? There was an extreme connection between him and his district? Was that . . . a conscious effort? What made that such a connection? Is it just simply, "I'm from here, and I'm representing you, and this is what I'm going to do?" It's fascinating to me.

SCHNABEL: Every time Charlie would come back to the district he would bring one of these beauties with him. And the meetings were all overflowing meetings, they didn't want to see Charlie, they wanted to see one of the beauties that he was bringing from Washington, because he always brought one. And the civic clubs would be packed when Charlie came. Well, he made a great talk. And they're listening to Charlie but they are eyeballing this gorgeous babe that . . .

SOSEBEE: But he delivered for his constituents.

SCHNABEL: Absolutely, and Norma [Butler, a district staffer] that somebody's interviewing here [and she was interviewed for the Charlie Wilson Oral History Project], Norma knew every Black pastor in the district and . . . there was not a constituency in the United States House of Representatives that was better served than Charlie Wilson's. Every letter, every complaint, every inquiry was immediately taken care of. And Charlie's staff was what kept him elected in terms of constituent service.

SOSEBEE: Is that when you worked for him as Chief of Staff, is that what he said, this is your number one job to do, to make sure that . . .

SCHNABEL: Yeah. We wanted our constituents to be the best served constituents in the United States and that's the way it was.

SOSEBEE: What kind of boss was he?

SCHNABEL: We didn't communicate that much. He would steer me a direction and expect me to take that direction and go with it. There would be days that went by and Charlie and I would not even speak. He knew what I was doing.

SOSEBEE: Kind of a "this is what I want done and I don't care how you go about it."

SCHNABEL: I didn't know what he was doing, but he knew what I was doing. Charlie, back to his gifts, he had a gift of laughing off a serious situation. Charlie had a huge, a huge wit, and a huge humor, and I will give you an example and you might have seen this. One problem when Charlie and I did communicate a lot, on a very regular basis had to do with him bringing a Russian woman to D. C. George Crile, the guy that wrote the book [Charlie Wilson's War], took Charlie to Moscow and he was a stringer for C. B. S. [Columbia Broadcasting System channel] and hooked Charlie up with a very beautiful blonde Russian girl named Yana. They went to . . . dinner Yana says . . . Charlie says to Yana, "Why don't you come to the United States?" And Yana says, "I have to have a sponsor." And Charlie says, "Well, I'll take care of that." And she said, "All you congressman are the same. You promise me that you are going to invite me to the United States and you never do it." "Well I will." "Oh no, I know you wouldn't. You probably wouldn't." Well Charlie gets back and I'm looking at telephone bills and all these long distant calls to Moscow, "Congressman Wilson, what's the deal?" "I want you to go to the Soviet Embassy and tell them that I am going to sponsor Yana to come to the United States." And I said, "No you are not." I said, "Charlie she might be a K.G.B [a Russian Committee for State Security] agent and you're not going to do it." It's the closest I came to resigning because I thought it was a terrible mistake. And I discovered that the Soviet Embassy are the most discourteous people in the world. They are like me; because they didn't like Charlie, I mean, Charlie says, "I want to kill Russians as painfully as possible" and that's, Soviets picked up on that. Well, finally, we did it and Yana comes. And he gives her a credit card and she goes to Victoria Secrets, and she is buying a dozen hats, a dozen purses, anything silk, she bought a dozen of them. And it pissed me off. All the girls in the office couldn't stand her. So we were having lunch in a little French restaurant on Independence, a block from the Rayburn [House of Representatives' Office] Building [in Washington] and there was a journalist for the Washington Post at the next table and he came over and he said, "Congressman we understand that you're sponsoring a girl from Moscow, from Russia, is that true?" And Charlie says, "Well, as a matter fact, yes, it's Yana." And he introduced Yana to this journalist. And the journalist says, "Well, aren't you a little afraid that she might be a KGB agent?" And, the congressman says the only secrets she is taken back are Victoria's [Sosebee laughs].

SOSEBEE: What ever happened to Yana . . .

SCHNABEL: Laughed it off. And, nothing was ever written about it. And if Charlie was ever in a bind-kind of situation where some bad things could happen, he was able to laugh it off and take care of a semi-serious situation with a little humor.

SOSEBEE: What happened to Yana?

SCHNABEL: She was a KGB agent.

SOSEBEE: Oh she really was?

SCHNABEL: I found that out. Milt Burton with the C. I. A. [Central Intelligence Agency] confirmed the fact, because she was a street vendor and you cannot be a street vendor in Moscow unless you are a K.G.B. agent. So I was right.

SOSEBEE: So she probably did not learn anything anyway [Sosebee and Schnabel laugh]. I want to talk about Charlie's foreign policy in Afghanistan. We are going to talk about that but . . . what do you think, this is kind of general, I mean, Charlie was a veteran. His military service was obviously very important to him. Do you think that is where he formed this extreme anti-communism, is that where it comes from?

SCHNABEL: No, it came from the human rights violations in Afghanistan.

SOSEBEE: So, he was; maybe that hardened to anti-communism after he saw what was going on in Afghanistan.

SCHNABEL: No, he wasn't hardened to anti-communism until then.

SOSEBEE: Until then. And when he saw what was going on.

SCHNABEL: I mean he was anti-communist, but hardened to it? No, no. He became hardened when he saw what the Soviets were doing to the defenseless people, women, children, and defenseless people in Afghanistan. I mean, it touched his heart. And Charlie is a compassionate person. Nobody ever sees the side of Charlie Wilson's compassion. But he's a compassionate person. And all the compassion came out when he saw a situation. Here's a muj [mujahedeen] that stepped on a landmine. And . . . they were amputating his leg in a goat skinned tent with no anesthesia and no antibiotic. And all the guy wanted was to get well to go kill Russians. And when Charlie saw that resolve, and that's when he became hardened anti-communist.

SOSEBEE: Is that right. That's amazing. Well . . . and we know a lot about what he did with the Afghanistan, other than that, what would you say was Charlie Wilson's greatest legacy.

SCHNABEL: I'll say Charlie's greatest legacy would be the importance of individual freedom. Charlie was a freedom fighter. He was a freedom fighter in the Texas Senate, he was a freedom fighter in the United States congress, he was a freedom fighter in the Contras in Nicaragua, he was a freedom fighter for the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan.

SOSEBEE: You think that was his core political philosophy almost more than anything?

SCHNABEL: I think so.

SOSEBEE: Just a-almost a-not that I am using this as part, almost this libertarian style of freedom, and that's the most important thing that we have, and that's manifest itself in so many things that he did.

SCHNABEL: Yeah it was a compassionate way of life.

SOSEBEE: Even when we talk about his civil rights stance that's what framed that more than anything else. You probably, and you would know this from your time in the Senate, working with the Senate and then also your knowledge of after he went to Washington . . . Charlie and the Big Thicket and how that worked itself out,. I think it's always fascinating. I always thought it was fascinating that, here was this freshman congressman, I mean he's brand new, and he goes to Washington and he has this preserve created that, for example, that [US Representative from Texas] Ralph Yarborough couldn't get done for years, and just like this, how did he do that?

SCHNABEL: Personality.

SOSEBEE: Well now, how did, I mean . . . somehow [he] made the timber people happy, the oil people happy, the counties happy, and the United States environmentalist, and everybody else. I mean, that's an amazing fact.

SCHNABEL: Because Charlie talked to them. . . . He talked to the opposition as much as he talked to the plus side. And as long as he could communicate, people were happy. People were willing to go along because he was not an unknown entity.

SOSEBEE: Do you think his relationship with Arthur Temple [Jr., owner of Temple Industries, a lumber conglomerate in East Texas] helped in that regards?

SCHNABEL: Without a doubt. Arthur was his godfather.

SOSEBEE: And did he clear some of the way with some of those interest for the Big Thicket.

SCHNABEL: Without a doubt.

SOSEBEE: Did Yarborough take any offense to the fact that Charlie was able to do this when he couldn't? I mean, you know, Ralph had a reputation of being a little irascible at times. I mean, I just wondered if he was, you know, who this guy is and who does he think he is. They got along fine as far as you know

SCHNABEL: I don't know of anything about Charlie or his relationship with Ralph Yarborough.

SOSEBEE: Well, about Afghanistan, in particularly, because you were very involved in that. You were around. You were in there about that on this. I guess . . . this is the most notable period I suppose of his tenure. But we also know that, I mean, how did all that . . . affect the office. I mean, I know, one thing I know is that it was pretty secret. Did everybody know what was going on?

SCHNABEL: Well it was without a doubt a covert action and Charlie's office knew what was going on. But nobody else knew. And the office didn't talk about it to anybody. I remember, see when I first went to Washington for Charlie, within the first week he told me that I had to get a top secret C. I. A. clearance and I'm thinking, "What in the Pineywoods of East Texas would I need a top secret. We don't have anything, we don't have a military facility, we don't have a defense contractor, we don't, why?" And . . . "Schnabel go do it." And so, it took six months for me to get a clearance because the navy guy that had been selling secrets caused them to take a second look at giving out top secret clearances to people. And it was nasty, you know, to get a top secret clearance you go through hell. They called my bank and asked them, "How many checks has he written?" Called my neighbors, "How does his wife scream? Do they have fights?" I mean, the C. I. A. asked nasty questions that sound like there is something wrong with you. And it took six months for me to get a clearance. And as soon as I got the clearance it wasn't too long after that-no I had already been to Afghanistan and back-but I had a top-secret briefing. They came in and swept the office and the CIA came in and we discussed what we discussed and so my lips were sealed. I wasn't going tell my wife that I even had a top-secret briefing. But the next day, I pick up the Washington Post and I see half of what I heard in this top-secret briefing. And I'm thinking to myself, "Ain't no secrets in Washington."

SOSEBEE: I bet there's not. But the office sounds like you kept it pretty, I mean . . .

SCHNABEL: Yeah, the staff, they didn't know what I did in Afghanistan. But when I got involved with the USAID, the Agency for International Development, Larry Crandal, I thought he was a [US]AID guy, well he really was a CIA guy, but I didn't discover that for a year or two [Sosebee chuckles]. But I got involved with the refugees and with the medical program, and spent time in the refugee camps. And so I shared that with the office because that wasn't a secret kind of thing. And so the girls, they would get little fuzzy dolls and things for me to take to the refugee camp to all the little kids, and I would go over there with probably fifteen or twenty . . . dolls and little caricatures of puppy dogs and things.

SOSEBEE: That something and I think that this is beneficial because people know Charlie Wilson through the book, through the movie, and the emphasis is always on arming Mujahedeen, and fighting the Soviets. But just so we will know, talk about his humanitarian efforts for the refugees and how much of that he did and I think a lot of people don't know about.

SCHNABEL: Charlie would go talk to the seven leaders and say, "What can we do?" And the seven leaders would always say, "Give us air support. You know the Hind helicopters [Russian helicopters] are killing us. We don't have any defense against the Hind helicopter much less than a fighter and a bomber." And, you know, the result that finally we, Charlie, convinced the State Department and the Pentagon to let them have stingers to start shooting down the [Hinds], which turned the war around. But he also would get with the leaders and say, you know, "What can we do to help?" And they said, "We need medical support." Didn't have anything to do with the war. "We need medical support." When Mujahedeen is injured in Afghanistan, there's nobody to take care of it. And so Charlie arranged for medical support and the creation of at least thirty-three medical clinics inside Afghanistan. And, he got a guy by the name of Bob Simon, a doctor out of California, to organize some retired field medics to go to Afghanistan. Well the Muj rejected it because they were heathen-they were westerners. So we said, "Well what then, what can we do to get medical support." So the CIA dropped leaflets in Afghanistan: "If you have any medical knowledge, any exposure at all, or if you are willing to train to be a medic, show up at Nowshera, which was in the border area next to Peshawar [Pakistan; situated in a large valley near the eastern end of the Khyber Pass; Nowshera is about 27 miles due east of Peshawar]. And so here twenty-five guys show up, maybe they walked for twenty days to get there, and so the doctors treated, educated them in six weeks. Think about this now, in six weeks they learned how to set a broken bone, they learned how to insert a catheter for an internal wound and identify the twelve most common diseases. So I'm over there in Nowshera and here's a goat out there in the compound with a cast on his leg limping around and when they took the cast off and the goat could walk they would all rejoice [Sosebee laughs] "Allah-o-Akbar" [Allah is the greatest]. Then they take an A. K. [47] and shoot the goat through the mid-section and then learn how to insert the catheter to drain the wound. And I'm over there one time and there's a goat with three casts, could barely walk [Sosebee laughs] on his legs, but then they would rejoice, "Allah-o-Akbar, thank you God," you know, "for what you did to heal this goat." And so thirty-three clinics set up and that never got in the news, Charlie's support for medical. Then on top of that he goes back to the seven leaders and saying, "What else can we do to help you?" And they say, "Well, besides the clinics we have Mujahedeen in Peshawar and in Pakistan that they can't be treated because they don't have the medical backup to do it." And so they triage these guys and if there was a war injury that could not be treated by the Red Cross or the Red Crescent or a hospital in Pakistan then we'd bring them to the United States and Charlie arranged for a Mujahedeen who had been war injured, that couldn't be treated over there and so he promised them, so guess what, he gets back to Washington and says, "Schnabel I told them that we were going to do this."

SOSEBEE: And you had to figure out how to get it done.

SCHNABEL: So I had to call hospitals to get free medical support, doctors for free medical support, prosthesis for free. The navy only would fly them to a destination and everything else had to be pro bono. And I had to organize the Afghan community to help feed these guys. I called Sam Barshop who owned La Quintas to let them stay at La Quintas for free, I had to call the president at the University of Texas at Arlington to let them use a dormitory to house twenty-six war-injured Mujahedeen men.

SOSEBEE: Is that right?

SCHNABEL: But that medical support was a tremendous morale boost to the Mujahedeen because they knew if they got injured there was somebody that was going to help them.

SOSEBEE: I bet he's got a heck of a legacy in Afghanistan right now.

SCHNABEL: Oh, without a doubt. No, they treated me like Charlie Wilson because they knew Charlie Wilson.

SOSEBEE: You went to Afghanistan a number of times, and he sent you over there. What's some of the things did you do going over there?

SCHNABEL: Twelve times. I walked sixty, seventy kilometers in Afghanistan with the Mujahedeen to assure them that the United States of America was going to support their efforts because the United States of America was for freedom, and these guys are fighting for freedom so we are supporting you because you want to be free. We want to kill those bastard Russian atheists. And, so, I would talk to Regional commanders and the main leaders and then I took [George] Crile, the guy that wrote the book [Charlie Wilson's War]. I took him over there twice and introduced him to the commanders that he writes about in Charlie Wilson's War. I spent hundreds and hundreds of hours with Crile and his laptop, I feel like I wrote half of that book [Sosebee and Schnabel laugh].

SOSEBEE: What do you think about how it turned out?

SCHNABEL: I think it's wonderful. I think people had a better feeling about our participation then in Afghanistan, I don't know what about today. I don't like what's going on today and I wish we had . . .

SOSEBEE: You think Charlie would, what would Charlie have to say? Of course he was alive when some; what did he say about what's going on over there now?

SCHNABEL: I probably talked to Charlie more in the last ten years of his life than I did when I was on his staff. Charlie would get lonesome when he was back in Lufkin. And he got to be a big Netflix guy. And he'd call me and say, "Schnabel, you got to get this movie on Netflix and do blah blah blah." And we talked a lot. But more than about trivia than real things, but I talked to Charlie enough to know that Charlie was very dissatisfied with our military involvement in Afghanistan. That is . . . a no win situation and I feel that way.

SOSEBEE: Was he initially supportive when we first went in to get the Taliban?


SOSEBEE: Was that, he didn't, he didn't think that was . . .

SCHNABEL: He thought it was the wrong approach.

SOSEBEE: What did he think we should have done?

SCHNABEL: Go back to the Marshall Plan.* Get involved with roads, bridges, electrical systems, transmission systems, irrigation systems, and win their hearts that way. And the Afghans are not going to change. And if they're not going to change, and we're getting our guys killed, why?

[*In March 1947 President Harry S. Truman gave a speech to Congress about what became known as the "Truman Doctrine," i.e., support for fighting against communist expansion and regimes. That summer, General George C. Marshall, Truman's Secretary of State, announced details of what became known as the Marshall Plan, or the European Recovery Program (ERP). Marshall offered American financial aid for European economic recovery, especially to stave off Soviet and communist influence in a region still recovering from war and to help bolster the regional economy so that Western Europe could more robustly participate in a global economy. On April 3, 1948, Truman signed the first appropriation bill authorizing $5.3 billion the first year of the ERP. By 1951 industrial production in Western Europe had successfully grown 30 per cent since the beginning of World War II. The program came to an end on December 31, 1951. In its three year existence, the ERP spent almost $12.5 billion. Hence, the analogy to the Marshall Plan here refers to a desire to stabilize and strengthen Afghanistan by investing capital to insure development and growth, particularly for favorable geo-political gain. Charlie Wilson, and others, openly lamented this did not occur following Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, and detrimentally so.]

SOSEBEE: You know in Crile's book one of the great things was towards the end. He has the exchange where we were talking about, he says, "What [we] need to do is build schools, what we need to do is build hospitals, and that's what we have to do." And that seems to be his idea, and what's the, I'll clean it up a little bit that he actually said supposedly, was that you know, here we did this and we got rid of the Russians, and we [did] this for the Afghan people and then we just screwed it all up after that. And that was about he would feel now and how that all went . . .

SCHNABEL: Without a doubt. And I said, "Well Charlie is it too late to do that?" And he said, "It's never too late. If you got a war torn country, go over there and help them."

SOSEBEE: So even now.

SCHNABEL: Even now.

SOSEBEE: If we started something like [it], would it be much better?

SCHNABEL: But, you know, what the problem is trying to do it now: Corruption. There is so much CIA money over there that is corrupting people. And, and I tell you what, I could corrupt you with money.

SOSEBEE: Probably could [Schnabel and Sosebee laugh]. I hate to say that, but you probably could.

SCHNABEL: I mean money, money could corrupt the Pope, and money is corrupting Afghanistan as we speak in a huge way. It would not have corrupted had we gone in there initially . . . with a Marshall Plan. And, but you know they are savvy now on CIA money. And they learned how to play the system. And they . . . wouldn't have known how to play the system if we have done it right away.

SOSEBEE: Those, I mean obviously he was the, you know, . . . the person who got involved in this and started this, you know, taken Afghanistan and getting the Soviets out, so even among Congressmen, politicians, Senate, CIA, Pentagon, he had a reputation as being this Afghan expert and there's no doubt that when the Soviets left and even, you know, when the Soviet Union fell not long after that, why did they not listen to him? Because I know he was sitting there saying, that you know we got to start this, as you say, Marshall Plan, why they forget Afghanistan? Why did it just go off their radar?

SCHNABEL: I think it's because they had had run out of patience. It got harder and harder for Charlie to keep on getting money. And the plea was, you know, "We're winning and so let's keep it going." And after they won, then the intensity for needing to do it, I mean the Defense Appropriation Committee, they are all for other stuff now. They don't have to worry about that anymore and Charlie pled with them and ended up with, what, $400,000,000, but it was dished out piece meal to where there wasn't enough chunks to do any good

SOSEBEE: Yeah sad, very sad. Well somebody told me, and of course I have to ask you because I heard this from a number of people, you and the Mules, and taking care of the mules, tell us about, what's your involvement to getting mules over there.

SCHNABEL: I was very much involved.

SOSEBEE: Tell us about that. I think it's a great story.

SCHNABEL: Well the Hind helicopters. It took about, like, thirty camels for us to set up a clinic to, you know, take all the equipment in, the food, the medicine, the equipment, and a Hind helicopter would zoom down and wiped it out. Just wipe it out. They killed thousands of camels, and let me tell you, you can't hide a camel. The profile of a camel in that baron mountain of stuff you can't hide them. And so they were vulnerable to Hind Helicopters and so they ran out. They'd killed all the available camels and so they were using mules and now they are running short on mules and so China wanted to sell mules to the CIA for $2,500 a copy. I mean one mule for $2,500. Charlie that's . . .

SOSEBEE: East Texas ranch or farmer would love to have that kind of money [Schnabel laughs].

SCHNABEL: That's ridiculous. You can get a mule halter broke mule for 600 bucks, well than do it. So I called Doc Arnold who is the chief of staff for Gibb Lewis, the Speaker of the House. I said, "Gibb . . . Doc, we need a couple thousand mules" [Schnabel makes scratching noise and Sosebee laughs]. He calls the Tennessee, the Speaker in Tennessee, the guy that he knew, and then Charlie intervened and made some calls, and all of a sudden we're buying mules for $600 a copy that are great mules. Fourteen, Fifteen hand mules, halter broke, and they're hauling them to Fort Campbell Kentucky [about 68 miles northwest of Nashville]. And they built an elevator to go from the ground level up twenty-eight feet because the cargo level of a 747 jumbo jet is twenty-eight feet off the ground. So they, here we had farmers and ranchers hauling mules from all over the United States into Fort Campbell, Kentucky and loading them on the 747 that the C. I. A. had contracted with Flying Tigers to haul mules from here, Fort Campbell, Kentucky to Afghanistan. And my CIA cover on those trips, I was an AA "Animal Attendant" [Sosebee laughs] and it was, they were very interesting flights. I got a whole bunch of pictures.

SOSEBEE: So what's it like to fly across the Atlantic, across a big land mass to the Middle East with mules?

SCHNABEL: Well, I'm up there in a bubble of a 747 and I had a bunk and, good food, but when the first stop from Fort Campbell was in Brussels [Belgium] and to get from the bubble to the door, you had to raise up a trapped door in the floor and then there was a ladder that went down to the cargo level that went to the outside door. But when we opened that door with a hundred and thirty or forty mules pissing and shitting for eight and a half hours . . . [Sosebee and Schnabel laugh].

SOSEBEE: That smell must have been awful.

SCHNABEL: Three days later I am with the president of Pakistan, President [Muhammad] Zia-ul-Haq, and . . . I say, "Mr. President, I hope I don't smell bad." Because that smell was still in my nose [Sosebee laughs].

SOSEBEE: Wouldn't you have hated to be the person in charge of cleaning that plane out when it was all done.

SCHNABEL: As a matter of fact let me tell you what, Pakistan would not let them clean that plane in Pakistan and so they flew that plane back to the Emirates because the Emirates didn't have anything but sand. They said, "Bring those planes over here and unload all that shit on this sand because we want it." And they did. And they cleaned up those planes before they flew them back. So pres-, I am with the president and he brings in his natural resources guy and he says, "Do y'all have any Black Buck, we heard that Texas had Black Buck Antelope" [Black Buck originally hailed from the plains of India, Pakistan, and Nepal and were first introduced to Texas, and flourished, in the 1930s]. And I said, "Well, as a matter of fact, every big ranch in Texas does have Black Buck Antelope, they're a pretty common thing now." You see them on all the big ranches. "Well how can we get some?" I said, "Well, hell, I don't know. Let me think about it." On a 747, there was plenty of head room for mules up in the cargo level, but down, you know, where they put the luggage, it was too shallow for a mule, but it was okay for a Black Buck Antelope. So I called Charlie Schreiner [III] at the old ranch at the Y. O. [Game] Ranch at Mountain Home [near Kerrville, Texas]. And I said, "How about donating a bunch of Black Buck Antelopes to from where they originally came from: Pakistan?" "Yeah, yeah, we will do that." And so, how am I going get them from Kerrville, Texas to Fort Campbell, Kentucky? Another, a big problem, and I'm telling Charlie the adjutant general in Texas at the time was, interesting enough, Charles Wilson, and his son was Wade Wilson who was the quarterback for the [New Orleans] Saints. So I said, "General Wilson do you have a H130 [cargo plane] that needs to take a training flight up towards Fort Campbell, Kentucky?" And he thinks about that and says, "What are you getting at?" And I say, "Well . . ." I explain it to him and then Charlie intervenes to, on Washington level to get this okayed. So we box up these Black Buck Antelopes, then we, with a Texas air force, adjutant air force, H130, flies these animals up to Fort Campbell, Kentucky and load them in the 747 and haul them to Afghanistan. These people are ecstatic. It had gone down to where, they didn't have any left. The Saudi princes had come over there and shoot Black Buck and just leave them there for sport. Just kill them. And so they established a herd and it worked out really very well.

SOSEBEE: Wow another legacy that no knows about.

SCHNABEL: Nobody knows about!

SOSEBEE: That can be your legacy: The restocking of the Black Buck in Pakistan.

SCHNABEL: In Pakistan.

SOSEBEE: You know, many people, of course, I don't think the Crile book leaves this impression, but if you watch the movie it kind of leaves you this impression that Charlie kind of fell into this Afghanistan thing that, you know, that it was unintentional; that he didn't, of course, we know that that was not true but just recount, how did this come about? What was the . . . and how did he react when it was first, when it was brought to him?

SCHNABEL: Well there was a word that went around Washington. See Charlie was very involved in helping the Contras [rebel groups] in Nicaragua [opposing the socialist Sandinista regime that overthrew the dictator Tachito Somoza (whom Wilson once supported) in 1979] and they rolled Charlie in a wheelchair on to the floor of the house to cast the deciding vote to support the Contras in Nicaragua. And those guys up there all said, "Oh Charlie Wilson, you know he's always got a war to fight and now he thinks he is going to get a war to fight over there in Afghanistan." You know, just talking about Charlie being, liking wars, you know, navy guy, military guy, and, but that's not what took him to Pakistan. It was one of his old girlfriends Joanne Herring who had this close relationship with the president of Pakistan Zia-ul-Haq that got Charlie exposed to the Mujahedeen. And, then, I say then it was the compassion side of Charlie, not the military -let's-kill-them-all side, it was the compassion side that got him involved in that war. It was what the Soviets were doing that led Charlie to make the statement that was in the papers that he wanted to kill Russians as painfully as possible.

SOSEBEE: Did y'all, in the office, when this was going on and when it began, did you have a sense of how consequential this was, at the time?

SCHNABEL: Not really. We didn't realize that that was going to be the first domino. Because it was a covert action. Nobody in the United States knew anything that was going on. [Newman] Dan Rather had that one clip early on, but there was nothing in the newspapers all the years that I was in Washington, there was never anything in the newspapers about Afghanistan. And ,what was that going to lead me to say? The war . . .

SOSEBEE: I guess what I am thinking, did y'all get any inkling? Even did, Charlie know? You said domino effect. This might be the first thing to cause the Soviet . . .

SOSEBEE: No, what I was going to say? It was covert here, but it was Vaclav Havel [last president of Czechoslovakia (1989-1992) and the first president of the Czech Republic (1993-2003)], [laureate of the Nobel Prize for Peace and the first democratically-elected president of Poland] Leh Valensa, the guys who were under dominate communist control and Eastern communists here, they knew what was going on; it wasn't covert for them. They had a direct high plant to the Mujahedeen and what was going on in Afghanistan and it gave them courage, it gave the resolve. If these rag-top Mujahedeen had nothing, were willing to resist the super power, then, "We can too." The Soviet Union pulled out on the eighteenth day of February in 1989, and November of that year, or September of that year, the Wall fell in Berlin. And there's the historians, and you're one, that are going to relate what happened in Afghanistan to the encouragement it gave to Vaclav Havel and Leh Valensa, who knew what was going on, it wasn't covert with them, if they could do it, if they could resist, we can resist, Gdansk [in Northern Poland on the Baltic Coast], the uprising in Gdansk happened and that was tracking what was happening in Afghanistan and then three or four months later the wall in Berlin went down. But I say, the domino effect started in Afghanistan and ended up with the Berlin Wall.

SOSEBEE: Did you, did Charlie realize that this might happen?

SCHNABEL: I don't think so.

SOSEBEE: Y'all didn't think, y'all didn't get a sense that y'all might have been players on something that was amazing?

SCHNABEL: No, I think the historical look back is what gives you that. But not the daily here's what's happening, here's what we want to happen, but it happened.

SOSEBEE: You say you talked to Charlie quite a bit after he left the congress, and we talked earlier about, you know, things changing, you know, electorally in this partisan divide. Do you think that's why Charlie decided not to run? He couldn't . . . have won?

SCHNABEL: O no, it was strictly medical.

SOSEBEE: Is it, he was ill and he was ready . . .

SCHNABEL: He went in and the doctor said, "If you want to live any longer get rid of your office in D.C. Get rid of your glass. Go back home." And in a week, Charlie was back in Lufkin. I mean, they said, "You are going to die if you don't get away from here."

SOSEBEE: So it had nothing to do with, you know, he had the so-called Gingrich Revolution in '94.* It didn't have anything to do with him worrying about the deceit. [*The Republican Revolution of 1994, sometimes referred to as the Gingrich Revolution, refers to Republican Party success in the 1994 midterm elections. Republicans gained 54 new seats in the House and 8 in the Senate. Newt Gingrich, who became Speaker of the House at this point, was considered the leader of the so-called revolution. Large Republican gains were made in state houses too as Republicans also won 12 gubernatorial seats and 472 legislative seats, taking control of 20 state legislatures away from Democrats. Prior to this, Republicans had not held the majority of governorships since 1972 and, more impressively, this was the first time in 50 years that Republicans controlled a majority of state legislatures. Republicans would hold their majority control of the House till the midterm elections in 2006. Their minority status did not last long, however, as the GOP regained the House majority in the 2010 midterm elections.]

SCHNABEL: Had nothing, had nothing to do with it. It was personal health. See I think, I think that an individual's body tells them when it's time to do something different. And I think Charlie's body, see he hadn't had a drink for a while, it wasn't alcohol. It was his heart. He had cardiomyopathy [weakening of the heart muscle]. A common term for cardiomyopathy is fatty heart. And whisky had produced a fatty heart for Charlie. And a fatty heart is one that pumps real hard but doesn't pump much blood. And Charlie told me one time, said, "Schnabel, my heart has to beat six times for what your heart could do in one beat." And it got to the point where alcohol was such a strong deceiving force to Charlie. I could talk to you a long time about alcohol. I studied alcohol. I studied addictions. And when I was lobbying in Washington, in Texas I got the state legislature to pass a bill that mandated for insurance companies to pay for alcoholism treatment. And I had studied a lot about it. Charlie's in Washington and I'm in Texas when this happens. And so when Charlie finally persuaded me to come to Washington and it took him three months of calling every two weeks to come to Washington, he wanted me to come up there and I kept saying no. And he kept saying, "Don't say no to me yet, just try to come up here." Anyway, when I finally set down with Charlie in Washington, he was drinking scotch. I said, "Charlie I ain't going to come to work for an alcoholic that's going to kill himself, and if you want me to come up here then no more alcohol in this office." His eyes glassed over like I slapped him in the face. And I mean I could see a surge of expression in Charlie and he thought and, "Okay Schnabel, no more alcohol in this office."

SOSEBEE: Probably, nobody probably ever talked to him that way. Totally.

SCHNABEL: Maybe not, I don't know. And, but yeah, I could talk, you and I about Charlie . . .

SOSEBEE: One of the days we will.

SCHNABEL: . . . and his addiction.

SOSEBEE: But it was also, so him leaving, it was nothing where he was worried about his seat or anything and you have no doubt in your mind, Charles, that had he decided, had his health been fine, had he decided to run again he would have been continued to be elected again.

SCHNABEL: Oh without a doubt. He would have always been elected. The only thing that would have kept him from being elected is his health. I don't know if he could have campaigned.

SOSEBEE: And what did he, what [did] he think about the 2000 [Tom] Delay,* this redistricting [which actually culminated in 2003, with roots back to 2000].** You know, you know, they carved up his old district, just carved the heck up out of it, did he comment on that ever. Did he have anything to say? [*Tom Delay (born 1947) served in the US House of Representatives, as a Republican, from 1984 to 2006, including a stint as House Majority Leader from 2003 to 2005, before he resigned because of criminal money laundering charges in connection to his campaign financing. Pending a verdict, Delay even went on to participate in the highly popular reality TV show Dancing With The Stars in 2009. He was found guilty in January 2011 and sentenced to three years in jail but remains free on bail.] [**Tom Delay led the redistricting of Texas's Congressional Districts in 2003, which threw aside the longstanding tradition that new lines are drawn only every 10 years, after the census. The result was an increase in Republicans in Congress, up from 16 to 21, helping entrench Delay as House Majority Leader. It was appealed to the United States Supreme Court in League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry where, in 2006, the Supreme Court upheld the redistricting as Constitutional, but struck down Congressional District 23 as racial gerrymandering. Wilson's former district, the 2nd, while having undergone some changes throughout his congressional career, changed dramatically because of this redistricting. Wilson's district lines essentially ran from Nacogdoches south to near the Beaumont area in East Texas; today it essentially runs west-east from Houston's suburbs to Port Arthur.] SCNABEL: No.

SOSEBEE: Tell you what it was all about.

SCHNABEL: It was a Texas decision. It didn't affect him anymore. He liked Jim Turner, you know, that took his place. Turner was a good guy.

SOSEBEE: Yeah. I mean, you see, Turner was, when was Turner defeated finally, 2004 [by Ted Poe]?

SCHNABEL: Yeah, I think that's right.

SOSEBEE: Because he was kind of the, well, he probably, at this point, [was] the last Democrat from East Texas; where you got rid of all of them.

SCHNABEL: Put a R [Republican] by your name and you will get elected.

SOSEBEE: Any way we can go on and talk many, many hours about that. [Sosebee laughs].

SCHNABEL: But no, it was a decision that was one hundred percent health wise. And it was a decision, "I want to live longer." And Charlie was very close to my wife. Well he was close to all women [Schnabel and Sosebee laugh].

SOSEBEE: He liked women didn't he.

SCHNABEL: And my wife died with cancer and Charlie called her once every two weeks. And this is the compassion side of Charlie Wilson.

SOSEBEE: I think that's what people don't know about him.

SCHNABEL: Yeah, you don't see that side of him. You don't see the fact that Charlie didn't have a drink for the last eleven years of his life.

SOSEBEE: That's right, and nobody, yeah. The Good Time Charlie image everybody wants to propagate. And that's one thing I think we need to do about this and make this on that there was so much more to the man than Afghanistan and Good Time Charlie. There was so much more they don't realize where he fits in this this pantheon of the time and he's, and, that's where I want this to go, it's amazing. We are, actually, we run overtime a little bit but we always do because it's so fascinating. Charles, thank you very much. . . .