William Sebastian Cohen

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William Sebastian Cohen is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the The Cohen Group, a Washington D.C. lobbying firm founded in 2001.

Cohen served as Secretary of Defense during the William Jefferson Clinton administration. Formerly a Republican U.S. Senator from Maine, Cohen was a member of the "Board of Directors of the Council on Foreign Relations from 1989 to 1997, whose Middle East Study Group he chaired. He has chaired and served on numerous other study groups and committees at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the School for Advanced International Studies, and the Brookings Institute."[1]

The Leaders Project


Cohen was born August 28, 1940, in Bangor, Maine. "He received a B.A. in Latin from Bowdoin College (1962) and a law degree from Boston University Law School (1965). While practicing law, he served on the Bangor City Council beginning in 1969, and was mayor of Bangor, 1971-1972. Elected to Congress in 1972, he served three terms in the House of Representatives and won election to the Senate in 1978, and reelection in 1984 and 1990. A moderate Republican, he served on both the Senate Armed Services and Governmental Affairs Committees from 1979 to 1997 and was a member of the Senate Committee on Intelligence, 1983-91 and 1995-97. He participated in the drafting of several important laws related to defense matters, including the Competition in Contracting Act (1984), the GI Bill (1984), the Goldwater-Nichols Defense Reorganization Act (1986), the Intelligence Oversight Reform Act (1991), and the Federal Acquisition Reform Act (1996)."[2]

In 2000, Don Harkins noted that "Since Defense Secretary William Cohen held up a five-pound bag of sugar in 1997 and said that a similar amount of anthrax released in the air above the nation's capitol would kill approximately 300,000 people, anti-terrorism has become one of the nation's fastest growing industries." The article then asked RAND international security specialist Peter Chalk:

"'Why would Cohen, who has access to all chemical/biological weapons intelligence data, including that disseminated by RAND, scare the public with the imminence of a chemical/biological threat? Is he not mirroring the intent of 'terrorists' to leave a specific impression on a gullible public,' asked Don Harkins of The Idaho Observer.
"Chalk gave a thoughtful and lengthy answer to Harkins' question. Chalk explained that Cohen's public announcement was undoubtedly prompted by lobbyists who used the Clinton cabinet member as political leverage to fund their anti-terrorism programs and research.
"'Earlier today Dr. Hoffman stated that 'all terrorist acts are politically motivated.' What you just described to me is that Cohen's threat of imminent chemical or biological attack was politically motivated. How, then, is Defense Secretary Cohen's behavior different from what you guys have described as that of a domestic terrorist?' Harkins asked.
"With a smile that seemed to say, 'touchet,' Chalk said, 'Your observation is very astute.'"[3]



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