Amy Zegart

Morris Arnold and Nona Jean Cox Senior Fellow

Amy Zegart is the Morris Arnold and Nona Jean Cox Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and Professor of Political Science (by courtesy) at Stanford University. She is also a Senior Fellow at Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Chair of Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence and International Security Steering Committee, and a contributing writer at The Atlantic. She specializes in U.S. intelligence, emerging technologies and national security, grand strategy, and global political risk management.

Zegart has been featured by the National Journal as one of the ten most influential experts in intelligence reform. Most recently, she served as a commissioner on the 2020 CSIS Technology and Intelligence Task Force (co-chaired by Avril Haines and Stephanie O’Sullivan) and has advised the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence. She served on the Clinton administration’s National Security Council staff and as a foreign policy adviser to the Bush 2000 presidential campaign. She has also testified before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and advised senior officials on intelligence, homeland security, and cybersecurity matters.

The author of five books, Zegart’s award-winning research includes the leading academic study of intelligence failures before 9/11 — Spying Blind: The CIA, the FBI, and the Origins of 9/11 (Princeton 2007). She co-edited with Herbert Lin Bytes, Bombs, and Spies: The Strategic Dimensions of Offensive Cyber Operations (Brookings 2019). She and Condoleezza Rice co-authored Political Risk: How Businesses and Organizations Can Anticipate Global Insecurity (Twelve 2018) based on their popular Stanford MBA course. Zegart’s forthcoming book is Spies, Lies, and Algorithms: The History and Future of American Intelligence (Princeton 2022). Her research has also been published in International Security and other academic journals as well as Foreign Affairs, the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal.

Previously, Zegart served as codirector of Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, founding codirector of the Stanford Cyber Policy Program, and chief academic officer of the Hoover Institution. Before coming to Stanford, she was Professor of Public Policy at UCLA and a McKinsey & Company consultant.

She is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, the American Political Science Association’s Leonard D. White Dissertation Award, the National Academy of Public Administration’s Brownlow Book Award, two UCLA teaching awards, and grants from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Hewlett Foundation, the Smith Richardson Foundation, and the National Science Foundation.

A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Zegart 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. 

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Recent Commentary

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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.


National Security Intelligence And American Threats With Guest Amy Zegart

interview with Amy Zegartvia Stanford Radio
Monday, October 7, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Amy Zegart discusses national security, intelligence, and threats against the US including cyber-security, drone warfare, and political risks.