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President Names Cohen Defense Secretary

By Master Sgt. Stephen Barrett, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 1996 – President Clinton nominated Republican Sen. William S. Cohen of Maine as defense secretary. Pending Senate approval, Cohen will replace William J. Perry.

Cohen, 56, spent the last 24 years in Congress. In January, he announced he would not seek re-election.


During his 18-year Senate tenure, he served on the Senate Armed Services Committee as chairman of the Sea Power Subcommittee. He also is a member of the Subcommittee for Readiness, Strategic Forces and Air/Land Issues.


Cohen also serves as a member of the Senate Intelligence and Government Affairs committees and chairman of the Special Committee on Aging.


From Bangor, Maine, Cohen is a 1962 graduate of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. He earned his law degree from Boston University Law School in 1965. Cohen maintained ties to academia after graduation, serving as a college instructor at Husson College in Bangor in 1968. He also taught at the University of Maine in Orono from 1968 to 1972.


In 1968, Cohen became assistant county attorney for Penobscot County, Maine. He later won election to the Bangor city council. Cohen became Bangor's mayor in 1971, then won election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1972, representing Maine's 2nd Congressional District. He served in the House for six years, then defeated incumbent Sen. William D. Hathaway in 1978 for one of state's two senate seats.


Cohen is also a published writer, with eight books to his credit including two books of poetry and two espionage novels. In 1985, he and former Sen. Gary Hart wrote "The Double Man," a novel on international espionage and terrorism. Six years later, Cohen wrote "One-Eyed Kings," a spy thriller involving Soviet and American covert actions that converge in the Middle East.


He also teamed with former Sen. George Mitchell on "Men of Zeal," an account of their experiences investigating the Iran-Contra affair.


Cohen received the Vanguard and L. Mendel Rivers awards from the Noncommissioned Officers Association for his work on behalf of military personnel.


He also holds awards from the New England Association of School Superintendents for his support of public education. He also received the Jewish National Fund's Tree of Life award for his support of Israeli-American friendship.


Cohen divorced from his first wife in 1987. He married television personality Janet Langhart this year. He has two boys from his first marriage, Kevin and Christopher.

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