William F. Wechsler is the senior director of the Rafik Hariri Center and Middle East Programs at the Atlantic Council, spearheading its work across the MENA region and with US and transatlantic partners. He is also the senior director of the N7 Initiative, where he is shepherding regional integration and normalization efforts between Israel and Its Arab and Muslim neighbors.
Wechsler’s most recent government position was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Combatting Terrorism. He advised multiple Secretaries and helped coordinate interagency policies on a wide range of direct and indirect actions. His portfolio included the Department’s policies, plans, authorities, and resources related to special operations and irregular warfare, emphasizing on counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, information operations, and other sensitive operations. He also helped provide civilian oversight for the service-like responsibilities of the United States Special Operations Command.
Previously, Wechsler served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Counternarcotics and Global Threats, where he directed a budget of $1.6 billion and oversaw military and civilian programs around the globe. His key focus areas included integrating law enforcement operations into our military campaigns in Afghanistan and institutionalizing military counter-threat finance structures and doctrine.
During the Clinton Administration, Wechsler served as Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury, where he helped establish the legal regime and policies we use to impose foreign sanctions and combat money laundering. He had previously served as Director for Transnational Threats on the National Security Council staff and prior to that, was a Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Wechsler is currently the President of the Center on Illicit Networks and Transnational Organized Crime and the Treasurer of the American Historical Association. He was previously a Senior Fellow at the Middle East Institute and a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.
Wechsler has also had a separate career in finance. He has been Vice Chairman of Capitol Peak Asset Management and Managing Director of Greenwich Associates. He is a CFA charter holder and holds Series 7 and Series 63 securities licenses.
Wechsler graduated with a BA from Cornell University and a master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. He has been an adjunct lecturer at SIPA and is currently an executive committee member of the SIPA alumni association. He has contributed chapters to two edited volumes and has been published in major media outlets like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Foreign Affairs, and the National Interest, among others.