I'm reading a marvelous book called Charlie Wilson's War, which explains why the Soviets lost Afghanistan. Turns out that an alcoholic, lecherous Democratic Congressman from Texas, Charlie Wilson, somehow ended up funding the entire thing from the Appropriations Committee (where he could dole out money without anyone knowing) and a chummy relationship with Tip O'Neill, who explicitly didn't want to know the details but who didn't like communists and made sure that no one got in his way. He somehow befriended a bitter, semi-ostracized CIA guy who somehow ended up running the whole thing to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars _A YEAR_ (i.e. far more than the CIA spent on any other of its covert operations, ever). He ran the whole thing more or less without the White House's input or even knowledge for years and years, dealing with various slimy regimes (Egypt, Pakistan, China, Israel, Saudi Arabia) on his own, setting up arms deals on his own, a *blatant* violation of how foreign policy is supposed to be conducted (though he appears to have been scrupulously honest financially at least).
It's a great tale. Lots of tidbits. Of of them relates to Richard Perle (lately known for (a) being an Iraq hawk--oops!-- who now seems to be shuffled under the rug and (b) being on maybe the worst board of directors ever).
Perle was hanging around the Pentagon in the 1980's too, and giving all sorts of "valuable" advice to the CIA about its war. He had the swell idea that the CIA should bring some Soviet prisoners back to America. It would be a p.r. coup. The problem was that there weren't any Soviet prisoners. None. Any Soviet soldier who surrendered to the mujahideen would likely be shot, hanged, castrated, gang raped and skinned alive (crude, but true). The Soviets knew this and, they never surrendered. But this well known fact didn't stop Perle from incessantly pestering the CIA to bring the prisoners over to the US. The mujahideen weren't interested in p.r. stunts, so they just killed any Red Army soldier they could.
It's good to know Rumsfeld listened to this wise counselor pushing the Iraq war so aggressively, having previously demonstrated his expert knowledge of foreign cultures. He's been flashing his foreign policy expertise for decades! Another win for him!