Amy Zegart

Davies Family Senior Fellow

Amy Zegart is the Davies Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, where she directs the Robert and Marion Oster National Security Affairs Fellows program. She is also a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute of International Studies (FSI), professor of political science (by courtesy) at Stanford University, and a contributing editor to The Atlantic. From 2013 to 2018, she served as codirector of the Freeman Spogli Institute’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) and founder and codirector of the Stanford Cyber Policy Program. She previously served as the chief academic officer of the Hoover Institution.

Her areas of expertise include cybersecurity, US intelligence and foreign policy, drone warfare, and political risk. An award-winning author, she has written four books. These include Bytes, Bombs, and Spies: The Strategic Dimensions of Offensive Cyber Operations (2019) coeditor with Herb Lin; Political Risk: How Businesses and Organizations Can Anticipate Global Insecurity (2018) with Condoleezza Rice; Spying Blind: The CIA, the FBI, and Origins of 9/11 (2007), which won the National Academy of Public Administration’s Brownlow Book Award; Flawed by Design: The Evolution of the CIA, JCS, and NSC (1999); and Eyes on Spies: Congress and the US Intelligence Community (Hoover Institution Press, 2011). She has also published in leading academic journals, including International Security, the Journal of Strategic Studies, and Political Science Quarterly.

Zegart has been 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 also testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee; provided training to the US Marine Corps; and advised officials on intelligence, homeland security, and cybersecurity matters. Her commentary has been featured on national television networks, NPR, the New York TimesWall Street Journal, and elsewhere. Before her academic career, Zegart spent three years as a McKinsey & Company management consultant advising leading companies on strategy and organizational effectiveness. She came to Stanford from UCLA, where she was a professor of public policy in the Luskin School of Public Affairs.  

She has won two UCLA teaching awards, the American Political Science Association’s Leonard D. White Dissertation Award, and grants from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Hewlett Foundation, the Smith Richardson Foundation, and the National Science Foundation.

Zegart’s public service includes serving on the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board Task Force on Nuclear Nonproliferation, the FBI Intelligence Analysts Association National Advisory Board, the Los Angeles Police Department’s Counter‑Terrorism and Community Police Advisory Board, the National Academies of Science Panel to Improve Intelligence Analysis, and the Social Science Research Council Task Force on Securing Knowledge. A former Fulbright Scholar, she received an A.B. in East Asian studies magna cum laude from Harvard University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from Stanford University. She serves on the board of directors of Kratos Defense & Security Solutions (KTOS) and the Capital Group. She is a native of Louisville, Kentucky.

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Recent Commentary


“The Perfect Weapon” Screening And Discussion With David Sanger And Amy Zegart

interview with Amy Zegartvia Georgetown University Center for Security Studies
Monday, October 26, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Amy Zegart talks about the new HBO documentary The Perfect Weapon.

In the News

The Perfect Weapon

quoting Amy Zegartvia TechCrunch
Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Amy Zegart discusses China and the perfect weapon on TechCrunch.


Amy Zegart: Trump’s Top Intelligence Official Is Curtailing Congressional Briefings On Foreign Election Interference

interview with Amy Zegartvia The Washington Post
Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Amy Zegart discusses John Ratcliffe's, the director of national intelligence, announcement that the intelligence community would cut back on its briefings to Congress on electoral security.

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Amy Zegart: Spies, Lies, And Algorithms | Hoover Virtual Policy Briefing

interview with Amy Zegartvia Hoover Podcasts
Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Amy Zegart Discusses Spies, Lies, and Algorithms.

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Amy Zegart: Spies, Lies, And Algorithms

interview with Amy Zegartvia Hoover Virtual Policy Briefings
Tuesday, July 28, 2020

A Hoover Virtual Policy Briefing with Amy Zegart: Spies, Lies, and Algorithms.

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Where’s Waldo’s Nuke?

by Amy Zegartvia Hoover Digest
Monday, April 20, 2020

Amateurs are prowling the Internet for clues to nuclear weapons development. Real spies find these efforts both helpful and worrisome.

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Space Invaders

by Amy Zegartvia Hoover Digest
Monday, April 20, 2020

In the information age, old thinking about war is as faulty as old technology. Where is our unified theory of defense?


Amy Zegart: The Solar Orbiter Launches—What Will It Reveal About The Sun?

interview with Amy Zegartvia Babbage from Economist Radio
Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Amy Zegart talks about how countries can improve their defense against digital security threats.

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9/11: Look Back and Learn

by Amy Zegartvia Hoover Digest
Monday, January 20, 2020

Spy agencies failed spectacularly to predict the 2001 terrorist attacks, and today the threats have grown worse. Our intelligence apparatus needs radical reinvention.

FeaturedNational Security

The Race For Big Ideas Is On

by Amy Zegart quoting Herbert Linvia The Atlantic
Monday, January 13, 2020

The United States faces genuinely new global challenges—but tries to understand them using outmoded theories from a bygone era.