Amy Zegart

Davies Family Senior Fellow
Biography: 

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

Pragmatic Engagement Amidst Global Uncertainty: Three Major Challenges, a national security strategy written by the Hoover Institution’s Working Group on Foreign Policy and Grand Strategy.

Pragmatic Engagement Amidst Global Uncertainty: Three Major Challenges

by Benjamin Wittes, Amy Zegartvia Lawfare
Saturday, March 26, 2016

Benjamin Wittes interviews Amy Zegart and Stephen Krasner on Pragmatic Engagement Amidst Global Uncertainty.

Featured

The Security Debate We Need To Have

by Amy Zegartvia Lawfare
Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The escalating war of words between Apple and the FBI is widely seen as a “security vs. privacy” dilemma. But it’s much more than that. This is also fundamentally a security vs. security dilemma. 

Featured

A Clear-Eyed Focus On Our Interests: A Guide For The Next President

by Stephen D. Krasner, Amy Zegartvia War on the Rocks
Thursday, February 11, 2016

Today’s principal foreign policy challenge is distraction. Take a look at what the next occupant of the White House needs to focus on.

Pragmatic Engagement Amidst Global Uncertainty: Three Major Challenges, a national security strategy written by the Hoover Institution’s Working Group on Foreign Policy and Grand Strategy.
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Pragmatic Engagement Amidst Global Uncertainty: Three Major Challenges

by Amy Zegart, Stephen D. Krasnervia Books by Hoover Fellows
Thursday, February 4, 2016

Despite differences magnified by the presidential election campaign, Americans are basically united in their desire to seek a secure and prosperous nation that can lead the way toward a more peaceful and hopeful world. The United States is exceptionally secure, but many Americans do not feel secure. This anxiety stems from the fact that the United States faces several long-term threats that may or may not emerge.

Analysis and Commentary

A Response To Senator Feinstein

by Amy Zegartvia Lawfare
Monday, December 21, 2015

A quick response without getting into the weeds about why I find Senator Feinstein's post so disheartening. Let me be clear: I agree with her normative position that the CIA's "enhanced interrogation techniques" were morally wrong.

EssaysFeatured

Pragmatic Engagement Amidst Global Uncertainty: Three Major Challenges

via Hoover Institution Press
Friday, December 11, 2015

The United States is exceptionally secure, but many Americans do not feel secure. This anxiety stems from the fact that the United States faces several long-term threats that may or may not emerge. The Hoover Institution’s Working Group on Foreign Policy and Grand Strategy has produced a national security strategy that acknowledges this uncertainty and hedges as well as engages, recognizing that resources are not limitless.

Analysis and Commentary

SSCI Study Of The CIA’s Detention And Interrogation Program: A Flawed Report

by Amy Zegartvia Lawfare
Thursday, December 10, 2015

Who won the torture debate -- the CIA or Senate Intelligence Committee Report? Were waterboarding, rectal hydration, stress positions, and other techniques used against detainees effective? Legal? Ethical? In a forthcoming special issue of the journal Intelligence and National Security, a range of academics and one former CIA lawyer weigh in.

Featured

The US Senate Select Committee Report On The CIA's Detention And Interrogation Program

by Amy Zegartvia Taylor & Francis
Monday, November 2, 2015

The Senate report is a Greek tragedy: full of noble motives and tragic flaws. Seeking to write the definitive account of Bush-era interrogation and detention policies, the report’s process errors and substantive weaknesses have diminished its impact considerably.

Featured

Insider Threats And Organizational Root Causes: The 2009 Fort Hood Terrorist Attack

by Amy Zegartvia Strategic Studies Institute
Monday, August 31, 2015

This essay examines the 2009 Fort Hood terrorist attack with two goals in mind: illuminating the organizational weaknesses inside the Defense Department which led officials to miss the insider terrorist threat; and contributing to a growing body of theoretical research examining the connection between underlying organizational weaknesses and disasters.

Analysis and Commentary

Cyberwar With Amy Zegart At TEDxStanford

by Amy Zegartvia TEDx
Monday, June 29, 2015

What makes today’s issues of cyber security different than any other threat we’ve faced as a nation? Co-director of Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution Amy Zegart lays out the five reasons cyberwar is a whole new world.

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