Amy Zegart

Davies Family Senior Fellow

Amy Zegart is the Davies Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. She is also co-director and senior fellow at Stanford's Center for International Security and Cooperation and is a professor of political science (by courtesy). 

Before coming to Stanford in 2011, Zegart served as professor of public policy at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs and as a fellow at the Burkle Center for International Relations. Her research examines the organization of American national security agencies and their effectiveness. She is 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 national dissertation award in political science. 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. Her most recent book is Eyes on Spies: Congress and the United States Intelligence Community.

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 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 TimesWashington Post, and Los Angeles Times.

Before her academic career, Zegart spent three years at McKinsey & Company advising Fortune 100 companies about strategy and organizational effectiveness.

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 served on the FBI Intelligence Analysts Association National Advisory Board and the Los Angeles Police Department’s Counter-terrorism and Community Police Advisory Board. She also served on the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board Task Force on Nuclear Nonproliferation and is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She was appointed to the board of directors of Kratos Defense and Security Solutions in September 2014.

Filter By:



Recent Commentary


Lessons From Fort Hood And Asking The Right Questions In Orlando

by Amy Zegartvia Lawfare
Thursday, June 16, 2016

It is still the early days following the events of Orlando. It is possible that, as facts emerge, it will be clear that there was nothing more the FBI could have done to prevent the attack. However, there are lessons to be learned on from the 2009 attack in Fort Hood regarding which questions we should be asking.


Policymakers Are From Mars, Tech Company Engineers Are From Venus

by Amy Zegartmentioning Herbert Linvia Lawfare
Monday, June 6, 2016

This week, Herb Lin and I are giving a joint talk about the suit-hoodie divide, and whether relations between Washington and Silicon Valley are getting worse (I think the answer is yes). Part of the problem stems from conflicting interests and serious differences of opinion about policy.


Pragmatic Engagement

by Stephen D. Krasner, Amy Zegartvia The American Interest
Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A national security strategy for the next President.


The Security Debate We Need To Have

by Amy Zegartvia Lawfare
Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The escalating war of words between Apple and the FBI is widely seen as a “security vs. privacy” dilemma. But it’s much more than that. This is also fundamentally a security vs. security dilemma. 


A Clear-Eyed Focus On Our Interests: A Guide For The Next President

by Stephen D. Krasner, Amy Zegartvia War on the Rocks
Thursday, February 11, 2016

Today’s principal foreign policy challenge is distraction. Take a look at what the next occupant of the White House needs to focus on.

Pragmatic Engagement Amidst Global Uncertainty: Three Major Challenges, a national security strategy written by the Hoover Institution’s Working Group on Foreign Policy and Grand Strategy.
Blank Section (Placeholder)

Pragmatic Engagement Amidst Global Uncertainty: Three Major Challenges

by Amy Zegart, Stephen D. Krasnervia Books by Hoover Fellows
Thursday, February 4, 2016

Despite differences magnified by the presidential election campaign, Americans are basically united in their desire to seek a secure and prosperous nation that can lead the way toward a more peaceful and hopeful world. The United States is exceptionally secure, but many Americans do not feel secure. This anxiety stems from the fact that the United States faces several long-term threats that may or may not emerge.

Analysis and Commentary

A Response To Senator Feinstein

by Amy Zegartvia Lawfare
Monday, December 21, 2015

A quick response without getting into the weeds about why I find Senator Feinstein's post so disheartening. Let me be clear: I agree with her normative position that the CIA's "enhanced interrogation techniques" were morally wrong.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Featured

Pragmatic Engagement Amidst Global Uncertainty: Three Major Challenges

via Analysis
Friday, December 11, 2015

The United States is exceptionally secure, but many Americans do not feel secure. This anxiety stems from the fact that the United States faces several long-term threats that may or may not emerge. The Hoover Institution’s Working Group on Foreign Policy and Grand Strategy has produced a national security strategy that acknowledges this uncertainty and hedges as well as engages, recognizing that resources are not limitless.

Analysis and Commentary

SSCI Study Of The CIA’s Detention And Interrogation Program: A Flawed Report

by Amy Zegartvia Lawfare
Thursday, December 10, 2015

Who won the torture debate -- the CIA or Senate Intelligence Committee Report? Were waterboarding, rectal hydration, stress positions, and other techniques used against detainees effective? Legal? Ethical? In a forthcoming special issue of the journal Intelligence and National Security, a range of academics and one former CIA lawyer weigh in.


The US Senate Select Committee Report On The CIA's Detention And Interrogation Program

by Amy Zegartvia Taylor & Francis
Monday, November 2, 2015

The Senate report is a Greek tragedy: full of noble motives and tragic flaws. Seeking to write the definitive account of Bush-era interrogation and detention policies, the report’s process errors and substantive weaknesses have diminished its impact considerably.