Amy Zegart

Morris Arnold and Nona Jean Cox Senior Fellow
Biography: 

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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Featured

In The Deepfake Era, Counterterrorism Is Harder

by Amy Zegartvia The Atlantic
Wednesday, September 11, 2019

After failing to detect the 9/11 plot, spy agencies reinvented themselves for an age of terrorism, but a new generation of technological threats requires a new round of reforms.

In the News

Books For Beefing Up Business Security

featuring Condoleezza Rice, Amy Zegartvia Business Vancouver
Thursday, August 15, 2019

Political action can seriously affect businesses and attacks can come from multiple sources such as social media users, hackers and even local governments. Condoleezza Rice and Amy Zegart look at ways in which political activity can throw a company into crisis and what measures need to be taken to limit the damage. Whistleblowers and watchdog groups may also find this book of interest.

Featured

The Next Director Of National Intelligence

by Amy Zegartvia Foreign Affairs
Friday, August 9, 2019

At the end of July, Dan Coats, the U.S. director of national intelligence (DNI), announced his resignation. When he leaves office on August 15, the U.S. intelligence community will be left with two crises to confront. 

Featured

Debate Moderators Don’t Know Much About National Security

by Amy Zegartvia The Atlantic
Saturday, June 29, 2019

Viewers of the Democratic presidential debates learned quite a bit this week—from Joe Biden’s views of school busing to Marianne Williamson’s plan to defeat President Donald Trump with love. But I’d bet the next president will be consumed by an issue not a single person mentioned: cyber threats.

Featured

Not All Drones Are Created Equal

by Amy Zegartvia The Atlantic
Friday, June 21, 2019

Iran’s decision to shoot down an American RQ-4 Global Hawk surveillance drone brought the United States to the brink of military retaliation. Beyond their enormous diplomatic and geopolitical implications, these events have also heightened anxieties around the world over the role of autonomous systems. Could drones lead humans down a reckless path to war?

Featured

Decades Of Being Wrong About China Should Teach Us Something

by Amy Zegart quoting Michael Spencevia The Atlantic
Saturday, June 8, 2019

Thirty years ago this week, I watched the news from Beijing and started shredding my bedding. It was the night before my college graduation, I had been studying Chinese politics, and news had broken that college students just like us had been gunned down in Tiananmen Square after weeks of peaceful and exhilarating democracy protests—carried on international TV. In the iconic square where Mao Zedong had proclaimed the People’s Republic decades before, bespectacled students from China’s best universities had camped out, putting up posters with slogans of freedom in Chinese and English. A “goddess of democracy” figure modeled after the Statue of Liberty embodied their hopes—and ours—for political liberation in China.

Featured

Offensive Cyber Operations In US National Security

by Amy Zegart, Herbert Lin, Bill Finanvia Brookings Institution
Friday, April 26, 2019

Hoover Institution fellows Amy Zegart and Herb Lin discusses their recent book Bytes, Bombs, and Spies: The Strategic Dimensions of Offensive Cyber Operations.

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Tech in the Trenches

by Amy Zegart, Lt Col Kevin Childsvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Silicon Valley has shown a remarkable indifference to national defense, depriving the Pentagon of both brains and technological brawn.

In the News

Former Top CIA Official Warns That U.S. Intel Faces "Moment Of Reckoning" After 2016 Failure

quoting Amy Zegartvia CBS News
Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The U.S. intelligence community's failure to grasp the magnitude of the social media influence campaign Russia waged ahead of the 2016 presidential election may be one harbinger of a larger and more complex set of challenges its agencies will face, according to a new essay co-authored by former CIA deputy director Michael Morell.

Featured

Spies, Lies, And Algorithms

by Amy Zegart, Michael Morellvia Foreign Affairs
Monday, April 15, 2019

For U.S. intelligence agencies, the twenty-first century began with a shock, when 19 al Qaeda operatives hijacked four planes and perpetrated the deadliest attack ever on U.S. soil. In the wake of the attack, the intelligence community mobilized with one overriding goal: preventing another 9/11. The CIA, the National Security Agency, and the 15 other components of the U.S. intelligence community restructured, reformed, and retooled. Congress appropriated billions of dollars to support the transformation.

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