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 Specter Of A Chinese Mole In America

by Amy Zegartvia The Atlantic
Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The case of a suspected turncoat couldn’t come at a worse time for the intelligence community.

Analysis and Commentary

New Year's Resolutions Are Predictions About The Future

by Amy Zegartvia The Atlantic
Monday, January 8, 2018

2017 was a wild ride, and 2018 doesn’t seem inclined to put on the brakes. Who could have guessed last year that Matt Lauer would go from Today to yesterday—felled, along with Harvey Weinstein, Al Franken, Bill O’Reilly, and so many others, by the open discussion of their creepy “open secrets”? 


How Cyber Attacks Threaten Our Security

by Amy Zegartvia
Wednesday, January 3, 2018

There are many ways that cyber attacks threaten our national security. For instance, cyber warfare could affect our nation’s communication systems, intellectual property, or the military’s capability to react and defend the country. Understanding the nature of cyber attacks will help us prevent and defend against them.


The Tools Of Espionage Are Going Mainstream

by Amy Zegartvia The Atlantic
Monday, November 27, 2017

Great-power deception is no longer designed just to trick a handful of leaders. It’s designed to trick us all.


Trump Isn't The Only Problem With Trump's Foreign Policy

by Amy Zegartvia The Atlantic
Wednesday, October 25, 2017

America’s approach to the world is a complicated mess, for reasons that predate the current president.

Analysis and Commentary

How Not To Threaten North Korea

by Amy Zegartvia The Atlantic
Sunday, September 3, 2017

The country has conducted its sixth nuclear test. Is Donald Trump committing deterrence malpractice?

Analysis and Commentary

The Three Paradoxes Disrupting American Politics

by Amy Zegartvia The Atlantic
Saturday, August 5, 2017

They didn’t start with Trump, and they won’t end with him.

Analysis and Commentary

3 Takeaways From Trump Jr. Emails

by Amy Zegartvia Freeman Spogli Institute News
Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Line by ugly line, Donald J. Trump Jr.’s emails with British-born former tabloid reporter and Russian intermediary Rob Goldstone are now plastered on The New York Times website.

Analysis and Commentary

Donald Trump Jr.'s Emails Vindicate The Intelligence Community

by Amy Zegartvia The Atlantic
Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Even if the foreign power involved were the Brits and not the Russians, meeting with another government to get opposition dirt for a U.S. presidential election is wrong.

Analysis and Commentary

Kim Jong Un: The Hardest Intelligence Target

by Amy Zegartvia The Atlantic
Sunday, July 9, 2017

The most dangerous nuclear threat to the United States requires understanding the intentions of just one man.