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  • Guide to the Administration
    William S. Cohen
    (By Bill O'Leary
    for The Washington Post)
    William S. Cohen
    Defense Secretary

    Contact Information
    Background from The Post

    President Clinton fulfilled his wish for a bipartisan Cabinet by appointing Republican William S. Cohen to head the Pentagon. The former senator from Maine is anything but a yes-man. In Congress, he demonstrated an independent streak, criticizing some of the administration's defense policies, including the presence of U.S. troops in Bosnia. But he also criticized pet GOP defense projects, including the B-2 stealth bomber. As secretary, Cohen's most critical challenges include reconfiguring the post-Cold War military and responding to the sexual harassment and assault charges that have plagued the armed services.

    Sworn in: Jan. 24, 1997 (nominated Dec. 5, 1996, confirmed Jan. 22, 1997)

    Succeeded: William J. Perry

    Previous occupation: U.S. senator from Maine 1979-97; U.S. representative (R-Maine-2) 1973-79; member, Senate Armed Services Committee, Governmental Affairs Committee, 1979-97; member, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 1983-91 and 1995-97, vice chairman, 1987-91; board of directors, Council on Foreign Relations from 1989-97, chairman, Middle East Study Group, 1996; author; mayor, Bangor, Maine, 1971-72; Bangor City Council, 1969-72; instructor, University of Maine, 1968-72, Husson College, 1968; assistant Penobscot County (Maine) attorney, 1968; attorney, 1966-72.

    Education: Bowdoin College, 1962 (B.A. in Latin), and Boston University Law School, 1965 (L.L.B. cum laude).

    Hometown: Bangor, Maine

    Date of Birth: Aug. 28, 1940

    Spouse: Janet Langhart, president of Langhart Communications

    Children: Two sons, Kevin and Chris

    Religion: Unitarian

    Of note: Cohen, the 20th U.S. secretary of Defense, has written or co-written eight books, including two books of poetry, three novels and three works of nonfiction. He is the first Republican politician to serve a Democratic president as secretary of Defense.

    Department of Defense
    The Pentagon
    Washington, D.C. 20301
    (703) 545-6700
    FAX: (703) 695-4299

    Background from The Post

    Cohen at a Crossroads After Base Closing Loss
    May 19, 1998
    Cohen Declines to Segregate Military Trainees
    March 17, 1998
    A Favored Clinton Format Is Turned Against His Team
    Feb. 19, 1998
    Top Advisers Shouted Down At 'Town Meeting' on Iraq
    Feb. 19, 1998
    Cohen Hails Achievements In China Visit
    Jan. 20, 1998
    In Defense of Love Beyond Race
    Dec. 14, 1997
    Cohen Plays Skeptic Role On Bosnia
    Nov. 30, 1997
    Cohen Sets Major Pentagon Overhaul
    Nov. 10, 1997
    Sex and the Military: Cohen's Reason
    June 10, 1997
    Cohen Presses Congress to Approve Military Base Closings, Troop Cuts
    May 17, 1997
    Ability to Fight in Two Spots Remains Priority, Cohen Says
    May 13, 1997
    Pentagon Outlines Cost-Saving Moves
    May 7, 1997
    Cohen Weighing Three Possible Courses for Shape of Future U.S. Military
    April 4, 1997
    For Defense Secretary, It's All in the Details
    March 11, 1997
    An 'Outsider' Set to Take Over Pentagon
    Jan. 22, 1997
    Moderate Senator Built Reputation For Independence
    Dec. 6, 1996

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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