Amy Zegart

Davies Family Senior Fellow
Biography: 

Amy Zegart is a Davies Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, a professor of political economy at the Stanford Graduate School of Business (by courtesy), and co-director of Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation. Until 2011, she served as professor of public policy at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs.

Zegart’s research examines the organizational challenges of American national security agencies. Her most recent publication is Eyes on Spies: Congress and the United States Intelligence Community (Hoover Institution Press, 2011). She is also the author of two award-winning books: Flawed by Design, which chronicles the development of the Central Intelligence Agency, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and National Security Council, won the highest dissertation award in political science; and Spying Blind, which examines why American intelligence agencies failed to adapt to the terrorist threat before 9/11, won the National Academy of Public Administration’s Brownlow Book Award. She has also published in International Security, Political Science Quarterly, and other leading academic journals. She serves on the editorial boards of Terrorism and Political Violence and Intelligence and National Security.

Zegart was featured by the National Journal as one of the ten most influential experts in intelligence reform. She served on the Clinton administration's National Security Council staff and as a foreign policy adviser to the Bush-Cheney 2000 presidential campaign. She has testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, provided training to the US Marine Corps, and advised officials on intelligence and homeland security matters. From 2009 to 2011 she served on the National Academies of Science Panel to Improve Intelligence Analysis. Her commentary has been featured on national television and radio shows and in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times.

A former Fulbright scholar, Zegart received an AB in East Asian studies magna cum laude from Harvard University and an MA and PhD in political science from Stanford University. She serves on the FBI Intelligence Analysts Association National Advisory Board and the Los Angeles Police Department’s Counter-terrorism and Community Police Advisory Board and is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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Recent Commentary

Grand Illusions

by Amy Zegartvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Grand strategy in this fast-moving, multipolar world remains important—but it seems increasingly out of reach.

US-China Relations
Featured Commentary

Should the US Be Bullish or Bearish on China’s Rise?

by Amy Zegartvia The American Interest
Friday, June 20, 2014

Stories about the “rise of China” were the most widely read news items of the twenty-first century, garnering more attention than 9/11, the Arab Spring, the death of Osama bin Laden, or the British Royal wedding.

Bringing The NSA In From The Cold

Bringing the NSA in from the Cold

by Amy Zegart, Marshall Erwinvia Hoover Digest
Monday, April 21, 2014

Americans need to be convinced the secret agency is working for their good—and that any privacy trade-offs are worth it.

Barack Obama
Featured Commentary

The Shortsighted Presidency (Registration Required)

by Amy Zegartvia ForeignPolicy.com
Wednesday, February 19, 2014

America's foreign policy is now trending on Twitter.

Grand Strategy Essay Series

Complexity and the Misguided Search for Grand Strategy

by Amy Zegartvia Analysis
Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Amy Zegart argues that the number, identity, and magnitude of dangers threatening American interests are wildly uncertain, and that this makes searching for a single grand strategy unwise.

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Blank Section (Placeholder)Featured Commentary

A Foreign Policy for the Future

by Amy Zegartvia Defining Ideas
Wednesday, November 20, 2013

In the post-9/11 world, the days of an American “grand strategy” are over.

Privacy, Security, and the National Security Agency (NSA)
Featured Commentary

NSA Must Resolve Image Problem

by Amy Zegart, Marshall Erwinvia Omaha World-Herald
Friday, November 8, 2013

In the wake of Edward Snowden’s ongoing revelations about U.S. surveillance programs, the National Security Agency is facing the worst crisis in its 60-year history.

Blogs

Real Spies, Fake Spies, NSA, and More: What My 2012 and 2013 National Polls Reveal

by Amy Zegartvia Lawfare
Thursday, November 7, 2013

In August 2012, thanks to YouGov, I launched my first national survey to probe more deeply about what Americans know about intelligence agencies, what they think about controversial intelligence programs, and where those attitudes come from. In light of th

Featured Commentary

The NSA's Image Problem

by Amy Zegart, Marshall Erwinvia Los Angeles Times
Thursday, October 31, 2013

In the wake of Edward Snowden 's ongoing revelations about U.S. surveillance programs, the National Security Agency is facing the worst crisis in its 60-year history. Today, too many Americans mistakenly believe the NSA is listening to their phone calls and reading their emails. But misperception is only part of the agency's problem. In an Oct. 5-7 YouGov national poll we commissioned, we also found the more that Americans understand the NSA's activities, the less they support the agency.

October Surprises

by Amy Zegart
Friday, October 18, 2013

The Cuban missile crisis represents an enduring tale of complacency, fragmented data, and the frantic race to pick signal out of noise.

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Hoover hosts Intelligence Challenges Workshop


Hoover senior fellow Amy Zegart and National Security Affairs Fellow Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Atkins hosted a day-long workshop examining key current and emerging intelligence challenges. Read more about the workshop here.