Cohen, William Sebastian

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Cohen, William Sebastian

William Sebastian Cohen, 1940–, American politician, b. Bangor, Maine. He attended Bowdoin College (B.A., 1962) and Boston Univ. (LL.B., 1965). A Republican, he was elected to the House of Representatives from Maine, serving three terms (1973–79), and became senator from Maine, also for three terms (1979–97). Sitting on the armed services committee (1979–97) and the select committee on intelligence (1983–91, 1995–97), Cohen was an influential figure in defense and international security issues, establishing a reputation as an independent moderate. From 1997 to 2001, Cohen was secretary of defense under President Bill Clinton. He advocated the development of modern weaponry, the closing of obsolete bases, and active but carefully considered U.S. participation in international affairs. Cohen has written a number of books, including mysteries, poetry, and (with George Mitchell) an analysis of the Iran-contra affair.

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