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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Recent Commentary

Bytes, Bombs, and Spies

by Herbert Lin, Amy Zegartvia Books by Hoover Fellows
Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Offensive cyber operations have become increasingly important elements of U.S. national security policy. From the deployment of Stuxnet to disrupt Iranian centrifuges to the possible use of cyber methods against North Korean ballistic missile launches, the prominence of offensive cyber capabilities as instruments of national power continues to grow. Yet conceptual thinking lags behind the technical development of these new weapons. How might offensive cyber operations be used in coercion or conflict? What strategic considerations should guide their development and use? 

Featured

The Divide Between Silicon Valley And Washington Is A National-Security Threat

by Amy Zegart, Lt Col Kevin Childsvia The Atlantic
Thursday, December 13, 2018

Closing the gap between technology leaders and policy makers will require a radically different approach from the defense establishment.

Featured

George Washington Was A Master Of Deception

by Amy Zegartvia The Atlantic
Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Founding Fathers relied on deceit in championing American independence—and that has lessons for the present.

Featured

An Intelligent History

by Amy Zegartvia The American Interest
Thursday, October 18, 2018

Spying has always been part of great power conflict. Egyptians chiseled the oldest surviving intelligence reports on clay tablets 3,000 years ago. Even spy-themed entertainment has deep roots.

Analysis and Commentary

Trump Says Russia Isn’t Still Targeting The U.S.—But He’s Wrong

by Amy Zegartvia The Atlantic
Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Putin’s government is waging information warfare against America, but the president is ignoring his intelligence advisers as they sound the alarm.

Analysis and Commentary

The Effect Of Trump’s Foreign-Policy Doctrine

by Amy Zegartvia The Atlantic
Thursday, July 12, 2018

NATO leaders have a lot to worry about.

Featured

A Prime Opportunity To Get Inside Kim Jong Un’s Head

by Amy Zegartvia The Atlantic
Friday, June 1, 2018

Following news updates about President Trump's on-again, off-again nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un can make it feel as if the White House is prepping for the opening night of a Vegas show: If only the curtain goes up, all will be fine.

The Atlantic Daily: Life Did Its Thing

by Amy Zegart
Thursday, May 31, 2018

U.S. and North Korean officials are meeting to discuss the agenda and logistics of the summit that President Trump abruptly canceled last week, suggesting that the meeting might be back on—and that Trump’s unorthodox maneuvers might have worked.

Interviews

Amy Zegart: Businesses Are Bracing For Political Surprise

by Amy Zegartvia KERA
Thursday, May 17, 2018

Hoover Institution fellow Amy Zegart discusses how everything from global conflicts and terrorist actions, to hackers and even individual Twitter users can impact our lives and organizations like never before.

Political Risk: How Businesses and Organizations Can Anticipate Global Insecurity

by Condoleezza Rice, Amy Zegartvia Twelve Books
Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The world is changing fast. Political risk-the probability that a political action could significantly impact a company's business-is affecting more businesses in more ways than ever before. A generation ago, political risk mostly involved a handful of industries dealing with governments in a few frontier markets. Today, political risk stems from a widening array of actors, including Twitter users, local officials, activists, terrorists, hackers, and more. 

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