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

Department of Defense

China Rising

by Amy Zegartvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, January 28, 2015

But what is it rising toward, and how fast? For American leaders, the uncertainty itself poses a challenge.

CIA Headquarters
Analysis and Commentary

Let the C.I.A. Do What It Is Supposed to Do

by Amy Zegartvia New York Times
Monday, December 22, 2014

From its inception in 1947, the C.I.A. was designed with one overriding mission: preventing strategic surprise. Its controversial interrogation program is just the latest symptom of a larger disease, the tyranny of the current.

Grand Illusions

by Amy Zegartvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Grand strategy in this fast-moving, multipolar world remains important—but it seems increasingly out of reach.

US-China Relations
Analysis and Commentary

Should the US Be Bullish or Bearish on China’s Rise?

by Amy Zegartvia The American Interest
Friday, June 20, 2014

Stories about the “rise of China” were the most widely read news items of the twenty-first century, garnering more attention than 9/11, the Arab Spring, the death of Osama bin Laden, or the British Royal wedding.

Bringing The NSA In From The Cold

Bringing the NSA in from the Cold

by Amy Zegart, Marshall Erwinvia Hoover Digest
Monday, April 21, 2014

Americans need to be convinced the secret agency is working for their good—and that any privacy trade-offs are worth it.

Barack Obama
Analysis and Commentary

The Shortsighted Presidency (Registration Required)

by Amy Zegartvia
Wednesday, February 19, 2014

America's foreign policy is now trending on Twitter.

Grand Strategy Essay Series

Complexity and the Misguided Search for Grand Strategy

by Amy Zegartvia Analysis
Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Amy Zegart argues that the number, identity, and magnitude of dangers threatening American interests are wildly uncertain, and that this makes searching for a single grand strategy unwise.

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Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

A Foreign Policy for the Future

by Amy Zegartvia Defining Ideas
Wednesday, November 20, 2013

In the post-9/11 world, the days of an American “grand strategy” are over.

Privacy, Security, and the National Security Agency (NSA)
Analysis and Commentary

NSA Must Resolve Image Problem

by Amy Zegart, Marshall Erwinvia Omaha World-Herald
Friday, November 8, 2013

In the wake of Edward Snowden’s ongoing revelations about U.S. surveillance programs, the National Security Agency is facing the worst crisis in its 60-year history.

Analysis and Commentary

Real Spies, Fake Spies, NSA, and More: What My 2012 and 2013 National Polls Reveal

by Amy Zegartvia Lawfare
Thursday, November 7, 2013

In August 2012, thanks to YouGov, I launched my first national survey to probe more deeply about what Americans know about intelligence agencies, what they think about controversial intelligence programs, and where those attitudes come from. In light of th