Amy Zegart

O - Z

Zegart, Amy. "Our Clueless Intelligence System." Washingon Post, 8 Jul. 2007, B1. []

The U.S. response to the 9/11 attacks "has consisted chiefly of finger pointing and ax grinding.... Those who want to learn what went wrong and how to fix it need to understand ... bureaucracy -- the organizational weaknesses that cause smart people to make dumb decisions.... Despite the ... creation of a director of national intelligence, the U.S. intelligence community remains a dysfunctional family of 16 agencies with no one firmly in charge." The reason why "overhauling intelligence agencies" is so difficult is the Defense Department. For decades, it "has controlled about 80 percent of the intelligence budget and housed most of the agencies. And for decades, it has fiercely resisted any move to realign power in the CIA or anywhere else."

In response to Professor Zegart's "Outlook" article, NCTC Director John Scott Redd [VADM/USN (Ret.)], "Yes, We Do Have a Clue," Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, 13 Jul. 2007, argues that the progress of the Intelligence Community "since 9/11 has been nothing short of revolutionary. Today we collect, analyze and share counterterrorism intelligence within and among agencies vastly more effectively than Zegart claims."

In reply, Zegart, "What the Admiral Doesn't Say," Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, 13 Jul. 2007, notes that "Redd neglects to mention that only two of the[] agencies [that are part of the NCTC] -- the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency -- have serious experience conducting all-source analysis; all the other representatives dispatched to NCTC have been learning on the job. What's more, different people from different agencies still see different pieces of information.... Is NCTC a dramatic improvement? You bet. Is it where it needs to be? No way.... Make no mistake: Despite tremendous effort and substantial progress, the sad fact is that all the worst organizational deficiencies that hampered U.S. intelligence before 9/11 are still here."


Zegart, Amy. "Outside View: Hill Intelligence Unreformed." United Press International, 30 Aug. 2007. []

"Six years after Sept. 11, the least reformed part of our intelligence system sits not in Langley, Va., or the J. Edgar Hoover FBI building, but on Capitol Hill.... Today there are more committees involved in intelligence oversight than ever. Committee term limits in the House remain. And radical intelligence overhaul still requires battling, and defeating, the powerful armed services committees.... It is all well and good for Congress to be demanding accountability from the CIA and other intelligence agencies. But accountability starts at home. Until Congress overhauls itself, intelligence reform will remain elusive."

[Oversight/00s; Reform/00s/07]

Zegart, Amy B. "September 11 and the Adaptation Failure of U.S. Intelligence Agencies." International Security 29, no. 4 (Spring 2005): 78-111.


Zegart, Amy B. Spying Blind: The CIA, the FBI, and the Origins of 9/11. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007.

Pillar, FA 87.2 (Mar.-Apr. 2008), finds that the author "strains to fit the record of the CIA's and the FBI's handling of terrorism" into her thesis that "traits inherent to any large organization, especially a government agency, prevent it from adapting well to new challenges and a new mission." In the process, "her straining leads to factual errors," many of which "stem from her extremely heavy reliance on postmortem inquiries, especially the 9/11 Commission report. In fact, much of Spying Blind is little more than a repackaging of that report." Zegart and Pillar exchanges barbs about Pillar's review in "Letters to the Editor," FA 87.3 (May-Jun. 2008): 164-165.

For Peake, Studies 52.1 (Mar. 2008) and Intelligencer 16.1 (Spring 2008), this work "is a thought-provoking, detailed analysis of current problems that takes historical precedent and the judgments of many distinguished thinkers into account." However, "she does not offer convincing evidence" to prove her assertions that "organizational weakness" or "organizational factors" account for the CIA's and FBI's failures to prevent the 9/11 attacks.

Wirtz. IJI&C 21.3 (Fall 2008), sees this as a "well-crafted analysis" and "an important and beautifully executed book. Nevertheless, portions of [Zegart's] argument are more compelling than others." To Hulnick, I&NS 24.5 (Oct. 2009), the author's "thesis is marred by her lack of understanding of the realities of the intelligence world, and how change takes place in government.... [T]he system works a bit better than she believes, but her analysis is worth contemplating."

To Hastedt, Perspectives on Politics 7.4 (Dec. 2009), "[w]ith her emphasis on the enduring impact of organization and the role of organizational deficiencies in contributing to intelligence failures, Zegart has made an important contribution to the literature on intelligence." Nevertheless, "[r]eferencing the volume and nature of recommndations made by intelligence commissions as evidence of the well-established need for organizational reform is somewhat problematic."

[CIA/00s/Gen; FBI/00s/Gen]

Zegart, Amy B. "'Spytainment': The Real Influence of Fake Spies." International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence 23, no. 4 (Winter 2010-2011): 599-622.

"American citizens are steeped in misperceptions about what intelligence agencies actually do, and misplaced expectations about how well they can do it." The author attributes this state of affairs to "classification creep" and the "culture of secrecy," and concludes that "whereas spy fiction is plentiful, spy facts are hard to come by."


Zegart, Amy, and Julie Quinn. "Congressional Intelligence Oversight: The Electoral Disconnection." Intelligence and National Security 25, no. 6 (Dec. 2010): 744-766.

"[O]versight varies dramatically by policy issue, and ... intelligence almost always ranks at the bottom. Ironically, the same electoral incentives that generate robust oversight in some policy areas turn out to be far weaker in intelligence."


Return to Zeg-Zh