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 NSA Confronts A Problem Of Its Own Making

by Amy Zegartvia The Atlantic
Thursday, June 29, 2017

Recent cyberattacks show what happens when America’s secret-keepers can’t keep their secrets.

Analysis and Commentary

James Comey's 'Shock And Awe' Testimony

by Amy Zegartvia The Atlantic
Thursday, June 8, 2017

By any normal reckoning, the FBI director’s account should have been stunning. But Americans have grown far too used to abnormal behavior.


How Bad Is Disclosing 'Code Word' Information?

by Amy Zegartvia The Atlantic
Monday, May 15, 2017

If you’re known as someone who cannot keep a secret, the world’s secret-keepers are not going to tell you much.


A Stolen NSA Tool Is Being Used In A Global Cyberattack

by Amy Zegartvia The Atlantic
Friday, May 12, 2017

The magnitude of the event shows the danger of insider threats to the U.S. intelligence community.

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Trump Versus the Spies

by Amy Zegartvia Hoover Digest
Monday, April 24, 2017

All presidents clash with their intelligence experts, but the hostility the new administration has displayed is unusual—and risky. 


The Biggest Intelligence Questions Raised By The Trump Dossier

by Amy Zegartvia The Atlantic
Wednesday, January 11, 2017

There are even deeper issues here than whether or not the unsubstantiated allegations are true.


Trump Vs. The Spies

by Amy Zegartvia The Atlantic
Friday, January 6, 2017

In defense of the intelligence community.


America Needs To Play Both The Short And Long Game In Cybersecurity

by Michael McFaul, Amy Zegartvia The Washington Post
Monday, December 19, 2016

In his last news conference of the year (and maybe last ever as president) last week, President Obama squarely assigned blame to the Russian government for stealing data from the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s former campaign chairman, with the intent of disrupting our electoral process and helping one candidate, President-elect Donald Trump. Obama also promised to respond but left out details about how and when.


Reining In Trump’s Reckless Foreign Policy

by Amy Zegartvia San Francisco Chronicle
Friday, November 18, 2016

Donald Trump’s stunning win has made many wonder: Just how dangerous could a Trump foreign policy be? There are plenty of reasons to be afraid, very afraid.


Vladimir Putin Is Trying To Hack The Election. What Should US Do?

by Amy Zegartvia CNN
Sunday, October 23, 2016

Next month, America will elect a new president. Most likely there will be no cyber hanging-chad moment, no massive breach that calls into question election results or faith in the democratic process.