Amy Zegart

Davies Family Senior Fellow

Amy Zegart is the Davies Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, a professor of political science (by courtesy) at Stanford University, 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,  the Los Angeles Police Department’s Counter-terrorism and Community Police Advisory Board, the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board Task Force on Nuclear Nonproliferation, the Kratos Defense and Security Solutions board, and is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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Recent Commentary

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Featured Commentary

The Coming Revolution Of Drone Warfare

by Amy Zegartvia Wall Street Journal
Wednesday, March 18, 2015

New technologies will allow many states—and nonstate actors—to make low-cost but highly credible threats.


Additional Thoughts On The DNI’s Annual Threat Assessment

by Amy Zegartvia Lawfare
Monday, March 2, 2015

Jack gave a terrific rapid reaction to the DNI’s 2015 annual threat assessment, delivered last Thursday. Here, I wanted to add a few more brief thoughts comparing this assessment to previous ones.

Featured Commentary

Stop Drinking The Weak Sauce

by Amy Zegartvia Foreign Policy
Monday, February 23, 2015

Washington’s paranoia over weak and failing states is distracting it from the real national security threats looming on the horizon.

Department of Defense

China Rising

by Amy Zegartvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, January 28, 2015

But what is it rising toward, and how fast? For American leaders, the uncertainty itself poses a challenge.

CIA Headquarters
Featured Commentary

Let the C.I.A. Do What It Is Supposed to Do

by Amy Zegartvia New York Times
Monday, December 22, 2014

From its inception in 1947, the C.I.A. was designed with one overriding mission: preventing strategic surprise. Its controversial interrogation program is just the latest symptom of a larger disease, the tyranny of the current.

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
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.