Amy Zegart

Davies Family Senior Fellow

Amy Zegart is the Davies Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, a professor of political science (by courtesy) at Stanford University, and co-director of Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation. Until 2011, she served as professor of public policy at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs.

Zegart’s research examines the organizational challenges of American national security agencies. Her most recent publication is Eyes on Spies: Congress and the United States Intelligence Community (Hoover Institution Press, 2011). She is also the author of two award-winning books: Flawed by Design, which chronicles the development of the Central Intelligence Agency, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and National Security Council, won the highest dissertation award in political science; and Spying Blind, which examines why American intelligence agencies failed to adapt to the terrorist threat before 9/11, won the National Academy of Public Administration’s Brownlow Book Award. She has also published in International Security, Political Science Quarterly, and other leading academic journals. She serves on the editorial boards of Terrorism and Political Violence and Intelligence and National Security.

Zegart was 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 testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, provided training to the US Marine Corps, and advised officials on intelligence and homeland security matters. From 2009 to 2011 she served on the National Academies of Science Panel to Improve Intelligence Analysis. Her commentary has been featured on national television and radio shows and in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times.

A former Fulbright scholar, Zegart received an AB in East Asian studies magna cum laude from Harvard University and an MA and PhD in political science from Stanford University. She serves on the FBI Intelligence Analysts Association National Advisory Board,  the Los Angeles Police Department’s Counter-terrorism and Community Police Advisory Board, the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board Task Force on Nuclear Nonproliferation, the Kratos Defense and Security Solutions board, and is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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Recent Commentary


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.

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.

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Pragmatic Engagement Amidst Global Uncertainty: Three Major Challenges

via Analysis
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.


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.


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.

The Drone Age

by Amy Zegartvia Hoover Digest
Friday, June 19, 2015

The drone revolution will pose new threats—but also better ways to counter them.