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

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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.

FeaturedNational Security

The Self-Appointed Spies Who Use Google Earth To Sniff Out Nukes

by Amy Zegartvia The Atlantic
Friday, December 6, 2019

Nuclear intelligence isn’t just for government agencies anymore. A motley crew of outside watchdogs has found creative ways to deter proliferation.


Amy Zegart: Secretary Pompeo Defends Treatment Of State Dept. Staff

interview with Amy Zegartvia Andrea Mitchell Reports (MSNBC)
Monday, November 4, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Amy Zegart talks about why she thinks Secretary of State Mike Pompeo didn't do more defend diplomats serving under him.

Analysis and Commentary

The World In 50 Years: Amy Zegart

featuring Amy Zegartvia Quartz
Thursday, October 31, 2019

We asked some of the boldest thinkers what the world will be like in 50 years. Here’s what their answers tell us about the future.

In the News

HAI 2019 Fall Conference: Conversation, With Reid Hoffman And DJ Patil

mentioning Amy Zegartvia The Stanford Daily
Monday, October 28, 2019

The two technologists, in conversation with Hoover Institution fellow Amy Zegart, shared visions for ethical education, concerns for data privacy and the need for integrating technology in policy-making — bridging “the suits and the hoodies,” as Hoffman jokingly said — while acknowledging that the misuse of technology could lead to unintended harm.

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Tiananmen Dreams

by Amy Zegartvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Throughout modern history, China has defied the experts and their expectations. Now, as always, the Middle Kingdom will move at its own pace.