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. In addition, she is a member of the Social Science Research Council Task Force on Securing Knowledge. She was appointed to the board of directors of Kratos Defense and Security Solutions in September 2014.

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Recent Commentary

Analysis and Commentary

James Comey's 'Shock And Awe' Testimony

by Amy Zegartvia The Atlantic
Thursday, June 8, 2017

By any normal reckoning, the FBI director’s account should have been stunning. But Americans have grown far too used to abnormal behavior.


How Bad Is Disclosing 'Code Word' Information?

by Amy Zegartvia The Atlantic
Monday, May 15, 2017

If you’re known as someone who cannot keep a secret, the world’s secret-keepers are not going to tell you much.


A Stolen NSA Tool Is Being Used In A Global Cyberattack

by Amy Zegartvia The Atlantic
Friday, May 12, 2017

The magnitude of the event shows the danger of insider threats to the U.S. intelligence community.

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Trump Versus the Spies

by Amy Zegartvia Hoover Digest
Monday, April 24, 2017

All presidents clash with their intelligence experts, but the hostility the new administration has displayed is unusual—and risky. 


The Biggest Intelligence Questions Raised By The Trump Dossier

by Amy Zegartvia The Atlantic
Wednesday, January 11, 2017

There are even deeper issues here than whether or not the unsubstantiated allegations are true.


Trump Vs. The Spies

by Amy Zegartvia The Atlantic
Friday, January 6, 2017

In defense of the intelligence community.


America Needs To Play Both The Short And Long Game In Cybersecurity

by Michael McFaul, Amy Zegartvia The Washington Post
Monday, December 19, 2016

In his last news conference of the year (and maybe last ever as president) last week, President Obama squarely assigned blame to the Russian government for stealing data from the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s former campaign chairman, with the intent of disrupting our electoral process and helping one candidate, President-elect Donald Trump. Obama also promised to respond but left out details about how and when.


Reining In Trump’s Reckless Foreign Policy

by Amy Zegartvia San Francisco Chronicle
Friday, November 18, 2016

Donald Trump’s stunning win has made many wonder: Just how dangerous could a Trump foreign policy be? There are plenty of reasons to be afraid, very afraid.


Vladimir Putin Is Trying To Hack The Election. What Should US Do?

by Amy Zegartvia CNN
Sunday, October 23, 2016

Next month, America will elect a new president. Most likely there will be no cyber hanging-chad moment, no massive breach that calls into question election results or faith in the democratic process.


“The President’s National Security Inbox”

by Amy Zegartvia Medium
Tuesday, October 11, 2016

David Kennedy asked me to frame the discussion tonight by imagining what should be in the next president’s in-box the day after inauguration. I was immediately reminded of my friend, Al Carnesale, a nuclear engineer and Chancellor Emeritus at UCLA.