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


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.


“The President’s National Security Inbox”

by Amy Zegartvia Medium
Tuesday, October 11, 2016

David Kennedy asked me to frame the discussion tonight by imagining what should be in the next president’s in-box the day after inauguration. I was immediately reminded of my friend, Al Carnesale, a nuclear engineer and Chancellor Emeritus at UCLA.

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Software Meets Soft Power

by Amy Zegartvia Hoover Digest
Monday, July 11, 2016

After the clash between Apple and the FBI, a question: what if forcing a company to yield its secrets strengthens one kind of security but damages another?

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Three Principles, Three Challenges

by Stephen D. Krasner, Amy Zegartvia Hoover Digest
Monday, July 11, 2016

How to focus on what really matters: American interests.


Lessons From Fort Hood And Asking The Right Questions In Orlando

by Amy Zegartvia Lawfare
Thursday, June 16, 2016

It is still the early days following the events of Orlando. It is possible that, as facts emerge, it will be clear that there was nothing more the FBI could have done to prevent the attack. However, there are lessons to be learned on from the 2009 attack in Fort Hood regarding which questions we should be asking.


Policymakers Are From Mars, Tech Company Engineers Are From Venus

by Amy Zegart mentioning Herbert Linvia Lawfare
Monday, June 6, 2016

This week, Herb Lin and I are giving a joint talk about the suit-hoodie divide, and whether relations between Washington and Silicon Valley are getting worse (I think the answer is yes). Part of the problem stems from conflicting interests and serious differences of opinion about policy.


Pragmatic Engagement

by Stephen D. Krasner, Amy Zegartvia The American Interest
Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A national security strategy for the next President.

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.


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. 


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.