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FBI (United States Federal Bureau of Investigation)

FBI (United States Federal Bureau of Investigation)

ADRIENNE WILMOTH LERNER

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the nation's primary federal investigative service. The mission of the FBI is to uphold and enforce federal criminal laws, aid international, state, and local police and investigative services when appropriate, and to protect the United States against terrorism and threats to national interests.

The FBI employs nearly 30,000 men and women, including 12,000 special agents. The organization, headquartered in Washington, D.C., is field-oriented, maintaining a network of 56 domestic field offices, 45 foreign posts, and 400 satellite offices (resident agencies). The agency relies on both foreign and domestic intelligence information, to aid its anti-terror operations. As a law enforcement authority, the FBI only has jurisdiction in interstate, or federal, crimes.

Origins and Formation of the FBI

In the nineteenth century, municipal and state governments shouldered the responsibility of law enforcement. State legislatures defined crimes, and criminals were prosecuted in local courts. The development of railroads and automobiles, coupled with advancements in communication technology, introduced a new type of crime that contemporary legal and law enforcement system was unequipped to handle. Criminals were able to evade the law by fleeing over state lines. To combat the growing trend of interstate crime, President Theodore Roosevelt proposed the creation of a federal investigative and law enforcement agency.

In 1908, Roosevelt and his attorney general, Charles Bonaparte, created a force of Special Agents within the Department of Justice. They sought the expertise of accountants, lawyers, Secret Service agents, and detectives to staff the ranks of the new investigative service. The new recruits reported for examination and training on July 26, 1908. This first corps of federal agents was the forerunner of the modern FBI.

When the federal bureau began operations, there were few federal crimes in the legal statutes. Federal agents investigated railroad scams, banking crimes, labor violations, and antitrust cases. The findings of their investigations, however, were usually disclosed to local or state law enforcement officials and courts for prosecution. In 1910, the federal government passed the Mann Act, expanding the jurisdiction of the investigation bureau by outlawing the transport of women over state lines for the purpose of prostitution. Granting federal agents the right to investigate, arrest, and prosecute persons in violation of the Mann Act solidified the interstate authority of federal investigative services.

The Special Agents force also aided border guards, investigating smuggling cases and immigration violations. At the outbreak of the Mexican revolution, bureau agents conducted limited espionage operations, gathering intelligence for the military and the government.

World War I and the Interwar Years

When World War I erupted in Europe, the United States government, under President Woodrow Wilson, proclaimed American neutrality in the conflict. Despite the official declaration of neutrality, the United States increasingly aided Allied nations such as Britain and France with sales of weapons and supplies for the war effort. As a result, rival Germany sent saboteurs and spies into the United States to conduct espionage against United States military instillations and ammunition factories. Several incidents, including an explosion near New York City, at Black Tom Pier, fanned public fear of German spies and saboteurs infiltrating the United States. Federal investigators were charged with investigating acts of terrorism and sabotage, as well as ferreting out potential spies. For this job, Special Agents worked closely with military intelligence, gaining new law enforcement and espionage tradecraft skills.

With the entry of the United States into the European conflict, federal investigators gained jurisdiction over the enforcement of the Espionage, Sabotage, and Selective Service Acts. The bureau investigated alien enemies, and arrested men who dodged conscription.

After World War I ended in 1918, the force of Special Agents became the Bureau of Investigation. The agency gained considerable autonomy from Department of Justice oversight. During the 1920s, federal agents investigated several regional and national crime syndicates. Prohibition, the ban on sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages, prompted a rise in the illegal manufacture, trade, and sale of alcohol. Since the Department of the Treasury had jurisdiction over Prohibition violations, federal investigators worked closely with Treasury agents.

The interwar era was also marked by increased gangsterism. Gangsters posed a unique challenge to the Bureau of Investigation's narrow interstate jurisdiction. Many of the most notorious crime bosses were eventually arrested on charges of racketeering, tax evasion, or war profiteering. With no other means available, within their legal bounds, to bring down the resurgence of the often violent and well-armed Ku Klux Klan (KKK), the Bureau of Investigation targeted the leader of the Louisiana Klan for violations of the Mann Act.

The onset of the Great Depression helped escalate crime rates. The sour economy gave rise to increased labor violations, corruption, swindling, and murder. Two events, however, strengthened and expanded the Bureau of Investigation's jurisdiction. The kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby in 1932 prompted Congress to pass federal kidnapping statutes. Two years later, Congress passed legislation prohibiting the escape of criminals across state lines, providing for interstate extradition of criminals, and granting federal agents the right to investigate and arrest criminals who fled or operated across state lines. Further reforms of federal law enforcement services permitted agents to carry guns.

The structure of the agency changed dramatically in the 1920s and 1930s. J. Edgar Hoover assumed the directorship of the Bureau of Investigation. Hoover expanded the field office network from nine offices to over 30 offices within ten years. Agency personnel policy changed, requiring new agents to complete a rigorous, centralized training course. Promotions within the organization were secured through merit and consistency of service, not seniority. The agency still sought agent-recruits with training in accountancy and law, but expanded their search to include linguists, mathematicians, physicists, chemists, forensics specialists, and medical practitioners.

Technical advancements also changed agency operations. Basic forensic investigation began to be employed in FBI crime scene investigations. The bureau established a fingerprint identification and index system in 1924. The national index assumed fingerprint records from state and local law enforcement agencies, as well as an older Department of Justice fingerprint registry dating back to 1905. The agency opened its first technical laboratory in 1932. The facility quickly expanded to cover a variety of forensic research, aiding investigators by comparing bullets, guns, tire tracks, watermarks, counterfeiting techniques, handwriting samples, and pathology reports.

World War II and the Interwar Years

In 1935, the special task force of agents who formerly worked to combat Prohibition were separated from the agency, and the organization was renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). When war again broke out in Europe, FBI agents performed many of the same duties as they had during World War I. Before the United States entered the war in 1941, the FBI concentrated its efforts on locating, infiltrating, and dismantling political organizations sympathetic to German and Italian Fascism, and Soviet Communism, despite the latter nation's wartime alliance with Britain and France. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Secretary of State Cordell Hull, pushed for increased power for the FBI to investigate perceived subversives, even if these people were ordinary American citizens. A 1939 presidential directive, followed by the Smith Act of 1940, outlawed public advocacy of over-throwing the government.

When the United States entered the war after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, FBI agents aided national defense efforts by placing trained agents at key military and defense industry sites. Wartime agents received more intense training in counterintelligence measures, and the FBI established special counterintelligence units for covert operations at the government's discretion. FBI agents thwarted German and Japanese attempts at sabotaging national interests, including fuel reserves.

World War II also marked one of the darkest chapters of FBI operations. Despite opposition from FBI director Hoover, government officials declared all Japanese immigrants, and American citizens of Japanese descent, enemy aliens. The Japanese-American population on the West Coast was evicted from their homes and sent to internment camps for the duration of the war. Many lost homes and businesses that they were forced to leave behind. Since internment camps and enemy alien laws fell under federal jurisdiction, the FBI imposed curfews, administered deportations, and arrested those in violation of internment laws.

Conversely, FBI agents were the first federal authority since Reconstruction to enforce desegregation laws. Though segregation remained legal practice during the 1940s, the president appointed the Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC) to address concerns of African-American workers. FEPC possessed no enforcement authority, but FBI agents arrested several employers found in violation of the FEPC on the grounds of impeding the war effort.

The FBI during the Cold War

The early Cold War years. When World War II ended in August 1945, increasingly hostile relations between the United States and the Soviet Union led to the Cold War, a diplomatic and military standoff that lasted over four decades. In the early Cold War years, the American government, and many members of the public, worried about the presence of Communist organizations and spies within the United States. The discovery of Soviet agents operating within government agencies, and the trial of individuals accused of stealing atomic secrets, and the test detonation of the first Soviet atomic bomb in 1949, fanned public anti-Communist hysteria. While the newly formed Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) worked to stop the expansion of the Soviet Union abroad, the FBI gained the past-war responsibility of defeating Communist organizations at home.

In the first fifteen years of the Cold War, the FBI investigations contributed to the McCarthy hearings, as well as high-profile spy cases like that of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. The FBI gained the authority to conduct background checks on potential government employees, and investigate federal employees suspected of disloyal acts or espionage. The 1946 Atomic Energy Act gave the FBI jurisdiction over the secrecy and protection of atomic secrets. Legislation throughout the 1950s expanded the FBI's role to cover the security of atomic facilities, and defense industry sites.

In more routine law enforcement duties, the FBI continued to pursue interstate and federal criminals. In 1950, the agency published its first "Ten Most Wanted List."

The early 1960s and the Civil Rights Movement. Although the Cold War continued, the anti-Communist hysteria faded away in the late 1950s. FBI investigations of anti-government organizations and "subversive individuals" shifted with the political mood of the 1960s. The decade witnessed the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Vietnam War, and ushered in the Civil Rights Movement, both events signaled new duties and an expanded legal jurisdiction for the FBI.

When President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas in 1963, the crime was legally a local homicide. No special legal provisions existed for the investigation of the assassination of a government official or the president. President Lyndon B. Johnson called in FBI agents to investigate the murder, setting the precedent for future legislation that designated assassination as a federal crime, and granted the agency jurisdiction in assassination cases.

The FBI was responsible for federal enforcement of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and aiding desegregation efforts by investigating pro-segregation organizations and individuals. The FBI's charge to enforce civil rights legislation often put federal agents in conflict with local law enforcement officials, especially in the South and Midwest. Though the FBI routinely investigated violations of civil rights laws, they did not win the authority to prosecute violators through federal law until after 1966.

The FBI investigated, and helped prosecute criminals, in several high profile civil rights cases. Field agents in Louisiana and Mississippi investigated the murder of three voter registration workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi, before turning the case over to FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. FBI agents conducted crime scene, forensics, and extended investigations of the assassinations of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King, Jr., and Medger Evers. They eventually arrested, aided the prosecution of, and gained convictions for the assassins, although Byron De La Beckwith, who shot Medger Evers, was not found guilty until 1994.

The Vietnam and Watergate era. The United States, in an attempt to stem Soviet influence in Asia, entered the Vietnam War. The war was controversial, with many young people opposing U.S. military intervention in the conflict. The re-institution of the draft further angered anti-war sympathizers. Government officials grew increasingly suspicious of anti-war organizations and the large demonstrations they organized. Though the vast majority of anti-war demonstrators and organizations advocated peaceful protest and civil disobedience, a few militant and extremist groups resorted to acts of violence and sabotage. The actions of these groups prompted the FBI to conduct widespread surveillance of the anti-war movement. Utilizing counterintelligence techniques, the FBI used a myriad of intrusive surveillance, known as "Cointelpro," methods to thwart terrorist action by radicals. However, some criticized the organization of conducting domestic espionage, especially on the peaceful majority of anti-war supporters. Hoover, still director of the FBI, responded by promoting passage of the Omnibus Crime Control Act, which limited the use of wiretaps, listening devices, clandestine photographs, and other surveillance methods. The act defined new operational procedures for FBI agents, and was the first legal compromise between intelligence and privacy interests.

In 1972, public attention shifted from the Vietnam conflict, to the actions of the Nixon administration. On June 17, 1972, five men were arrested while breaking into the Watergate apartment complex that housed the headquarters for the Democratic Party. Subsequent investigations by a special team of federal agents connected the men, most whom were former CIA and FBI agents, to the Office of the President. Despite the implication of a few FBI agents in the extensive cover-up operation that followed the break-in, FBI investigators cooperated with a specially appointed Senate investigatory committee, surrendering all information pertaining to Watergate. The ensuing scandal, known as Watergate, not only forced the resignation of Nixon and most of his administration, but also damaged public faith in the government and its intelligence and security agencies.

The end of the Cold War. A period of Cold War détente in the 1980s allowed the FBI to concentrate on agency reforms and expansion of its domestic intelligence capabilities. In 1982, following a outburst of international terrorism, the director of the FBI, William Webster, made counterintelligence and anti-terrorism operations an agency priority. He established the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, a facility that would conduct sophisticated forensic analysis on crimes. The renewed agency attention to counterintelligence discovered over 30 cases of espionage against the United States government in 1985.

Combating the rise of white-collar financial crimes and the drug trade were other priorities of the FBI during the 1980s. FBI investigations implicated high-ranking government officials in financial fraud and abuse of power scandals, including members of the Congress (ABSCAM), defense industry (ILL WIND), and judiciary (GREYLORD). Federal agents also investigated fraud cases during the savings and loan crisis.

The Rise of Terrorism and the FBI Today

In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed. Its formal dissolution on December 25, 1991, marked the end of the Cold War. In the decade that followed, the international political map drastically altered, changing the global balance of power and permitting the rise of new threats to United States national security. In response to the changing international environment, the FBI shifted the priority of its operations. Several key events, including the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center by Islamist, foreign terrorists, and the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City by a domestic terrorist, prompted the FBI to restructure its counterintelligence and counter-terrorism operations.

To aid its current operations, the FBI embraced the use of several new technologies in its operations. The advent of personal computers and the Internet aided research and processing of investigation information. Searchable databases store information on suspects, crime statistics, fingerprints, and DNA samples. However, their use also created security risks that necessitated the creation of specialized information systems protection task forces. The agency created Computer Analysis and Response Teams (CART) to aid field investigators with the recovery of data from damaged or sabotaged electronic sources. In 1998, the establishment of the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) permitted the FBI to monitor the dissemination of computer viruses and worms.

Forensic use of DNA radically altered both the legal process and forensic research of FBI investigations. DNA analysis allows specialists to positively identify victims and perpetrators of crimes by comparing particular patterns in individual DNA. FBI forensic specialists created a national DNA databank in 1998 to aid ongoing investigations.

After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, and subsequent anthrax attacks on national post offices and media outlets, the FBI expanded its counterintelligence and counter-terrorism operations to include anti-bioterror task forces. The FBI, working in conjunction for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), employs agents to aid in the investigation and identification of bioterror agents, and law enforcement in the event of a bioterror attack. FBI analysis and research divisions have compiled massive databases on known biological agents, stockpiles of weapons, and terrorist groups who may possess biological weapons. FBI analysts develop profiles of terrorist groups to better understand their mindsets and possible future actions.

The FBI's focus on the prevention of terrorism failed to thwart the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. However, FBI investigations successfully found and prosecuted the perpetrators of the Oklahoma City bombing and the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. In its ongoing investigation of the events of September 11, FBI agents have found and arrested several persons suspected of having connections to the al-Qaeda terrorist network and the recent terrorist attacks. The FBI is also designated as the primary agency of enforcement for the Patriot Act.

Although no major FBI operations were assumed into the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the establishment of pending DHS committees to govern intelligence agency cooperation and information sharing will alter the manner in which the FBI relays information to the President and other government officials. Proponents of the DHS hope the agency will streamline communication among intelligence and security agencies. Critics of proposed DHS intelligence reforms charge that agencies, such as the FBI, will lose investigative and operational autonomy. Despite the changing future of the structure of the United States intelligence community, the FBI will undoubtedly play a central role.

FURTHER READING:

BOOKS:

Kessler, Ronald. The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2002.

ELECTRONIC:

United States Federal Bureau of Investigation. <http://www.fbi.gov> (May 2003).

SEE ALSO

Anthrax, Terrorist Use as a Biological Weapon
Black Tom Explosion
CIA (CSI), Center for the Study of Intelligence
COINTELPRO
Cold War (1945–1950), The Start of the Atomic Age
Cold War (1950–1972)
Cold War (1972–1989): The Collapse of the Soviet Union
Commission on Civil Rights, United States
Counter-Intelligence
Counter-terrorism Policy, United States
Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC), United States National
Justice Department, United States
McCarthyism
Pearl Harbor, Japanese Attack on
Privacy: Legal and Ethical Issues
September 11 Terrorist Attacks on the United States

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LERNER, ADRIENNE WILMOTH. "FBI (United States Federal Bureau of Investigation)." Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. 28 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

LERNER, ADRIENNE WILMOTH. "FBI (United States Federal Bureau of Investigation)." Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. (May 28, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3403300297.html

LERNER, ADRIENNE WILMOTH. "FBI (United States Federal Bureau of Investigation)." Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security. 2004. Retrieved May 28, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3403300297.html

Federal Bureau of Investigation

FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION

FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (FBI) was established in 1908 as the Bureau of Investigation (the word "federal" was added in 1935) by Attorney General Charles Bonaparte to serve as the investigative arm of the United States Department of Justice. The FBI quickly developed a two-track mission, as its special agents simultaneously engaged in legitimate federal law enforcement operations and unlawful domestic political surveillance activities. The latter were highly controversial throughout most of the twentieth century, and by the early twenty-first century, the FBI's competence and integrity on law-enforcement matters had also been called into question. On both fronts—law enforcement and surveillance—the FBI was a major historical force for the simple reason that its highly politicized officials were always at the center of three perplexing national issues: crime, communism, and civil rights.

During the Progressive Era presidencies of Theodore Roosevelt (1901–1909) and William Howard Taft (1909–1913), the FBI remained an obscure federal bureaucracy. FBI activities escalated following American entry into World War I in 1917, however, due to the Woodrow Wilson administration policy of suppressing antiwar dissidents. Bureau agents compiled massive files on anarchists, socialists, labor organizers, civil rights activists, and virtually every racial and ethnic group in the nation—all under the supervision of the Justice Department's General Intelligence Division and its young chief, J. Edgar Hoover. This continued after the war, with Hoover helping Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer to organize the infamous Palmer raids of 1919–1920.

Surveillance came to a halt in the early 1920s, when the FBI became embroiled in the Warren G. Harding administration scandals. In 1924, Attorney General Harlan Fiske Stone appointed Hoover director, with a mission to rid the FBI of corruption and confine investigations to violations of federal law. Hoover quickly purged corrupt agents and replaced them with men who held degrees in law and accounting. He also modernized crime fighting techniques, chiefly through development of centralized fingerprinting records and a crime laboratory. But he never completely ended domestic political surveillance; throughout the 1920s and early 1930s, the FBI continued to track communist groups, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Hoover spent most of his first ten years as FBI director laboring in relative obscurity. Following the Lindbergh kidnapping case and the brazen exploits of John Dillinger and other bank robbers, the FBI quickly emerged as one of the federal government's most prominent and powerful bureaucracies. In large part, this was the result of three Franklin D. Roosevelt administration decisions.

First, beginning in 1933, the Roosevelt administration federalized crime control to an unprecedented degree, giving the FBI what seemed like unlimited jurisdiction. For example, New Deal reforms enabled the FBI to investigate a crime committed at any bank covered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. However, the FBI ignored organized crime, as those cases were simply too hard to make. In addition, Hoover had no intention of placing his agents in a position where they would be tempted by organized crime dollars.

Second, Roosevelt's New Deal decided to make heroes out of Hoover and his special agents ("G-Men") to counter the romantic notions that too often surrounded depression-era criminals. By the mid-1930s, Hoover emerged as a full-blown celebrity with an entire division devoted to publicity. The FBI cultivated favorable coverage, chiefly by performing services for anyone who might be in a position to advance the bureau's image, such as leaking information from confidential files to columnists and sending off agents to perform private detective work. Eventually, this broadened beyond the media to include politicians and virtually any prominent person.

Finally, with the nation creeping toward World War II, President Roosevelt did the FBI a service on a third front in 1939 by reviving its surveillance mission. If the White House was principally concerned with the activities of native fascists, Hoover was principally concerned with Communist activities—and he defined the latter broadly enough to encompass his New Deal benefactors. The FBI even held files on First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. At the same time, Hoover ingratiated himself with the president by providing derogatory information on the administration's political opponents. This service included reports on such isolationists as Herbert Hoover. Ironically, during Herbert Hoover's own White House years, the FBI had performed the same service for the president by providing derogatory information on his interventionist critics.

During World War II, FBI accomplishments included investigation of the so-called Frederick Duquesne spy ring, which led to the arrest and conviction of thirty-three persons working to advance German interests. Six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the FBI broke the Nazi sabotage operation with the help of George Dasch, one of eight men dropped off by German submarines at Amagansette, Long Island, and Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. On the nation's key civil liberties issue—the decision to intern Japanese nationals and citizens of Japanese descent—Hoover put his bureau on record as opposing that policy (see Japanese American Incarceration). Abroad, FBI agents served in the Special Intelligence Service, which gathered information on and conducted counterintelligence operations against Axis activities in South America.

During the Cold War years, the FBI emerged as perhaps the central player in the political phenomenon known as McCarthyism. Bureau agents and officials were deeply involved in both the day-to-day workings and broader political strategies of the Federal Employee Loyalty Program; the Attorney General's list of subversive organizations; Smith Act prosecutions of domestic Communist Party leadership; the so-called Hollywood black-lists; pursuit of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (or CIO) left-wing labor unions; and the principal Redhunting committees in Congress. These included the House Committee on Un-American Activities, the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, and Senator Joseph R. McCarthy's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. In 1951, the FBI launched a secret Responsibilities Program to purge left-wing public school teachers and university professors. Five years later, the FBI opened the Counterintelligence Program! (COINTELPRO) against the American Communist Party.

In the early 1960s, pressure from Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy led the FBI to move against organized criminals and persons who violated federal civil rights law. Hoover fiercely resisted this pressure but gradually gave ground as the decade wore on. The FBI needed no pressure to move on the surveillance front. The civil rights, black power, and anti–Vietnam War movements led Hoover to approve additional COINTELPRO activities against a full spectrum of dissident groups and individuals. Following American withdrawal from Vietnam and the nearly concurrent Watergate collapse of the Richard M. Nixon administration, congressional committee investigations in 1975–1976 revealed the extent of the FBI's domestic political surveillance empire. In a manner vaguely similar to Harlan Stone's reforms a half century earlier, Attorney General Edward Levi issued domestic security investigations guidelines to prevent future abuse of civil rights and liberties by the nation's only national police force.

The FBI made substantial headway against organized crime with help from the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act of 1970. Bureau authority and operations also increased under the Ronald Reagan administration's war on drugs. High-profile Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams and hostage rescue teams were organized in 1973 and 1983, respectively, to combat domestic terrorists. The equally high-profile Behavioral Science Unit helped track down several serial killers, including Wayne B. Williams, convicted in 1980 in the Atlanta child-murders case. Nonetheless, with an almost daily release of files under the Freedom of Information Act of 1966 (as amended in 1974), the FBI has remained controversial in nearly every area of its operations.

On the civil rights front, FBI officials have endured periodic charges that their predecessors were involved in the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. At the same time, FBI officials faced civil actions brought by their own black, female, and gay agents, alleging widespread patterns of discrimination and harassment. FBI law enforcement methods, particularly "sting" operations, were widely questioned as well. The most notable of these were the Abscam anti–public corruption effort, targeting members of Congress (1978–1980); the Operation Greylord effort of the 1980s in Chicago, which led to the conviction of fifteen judges and more than fifty attorneys; and the 1990 crack cocaine baiting of Washington, D.C., mayor Marion Barry.

Charges of continuing domestic surveillance abuse, though less prevalent, continued during the Reagan years; the FBI compiled dossiers on critics of the administration's Latin American policy and opened the Library Awareness Program to monitor reading habits of dissidents. The Internet age has found the FBI keeping pace with its Carnivore Diagnostic Tool, an incredibly powerful software program capable of wiping out any notion of privacy on the Internet. Unnecessary use of deadly force was yet another area of concern, given the actions of the FBI snipers at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992, and the FBI role a year later against the Branch Davidian Sect in Waco, Texas (see Waco Siege).

Perhaps most telling, the FBI's basic competence has been systematically called into question since the mid-1990s. Bureau handling of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic bombing case and its investigation of Richard Jewell represented a gross violation of any reasonable standard of fair play. Meanwhile, credible allegations of sloppy work, and what some might consider evidence tampering, plagued the FBI crime laboratory. Revelations regarding evidence withheld from defense attorneys in the Oklahoma City bombing case on the eve of Timothy McVeigh's execution also proved a major embarrassment, as did the discovery that longtime special agent Robert Hanssen was a Russian spy (see Hanssen Espionage Case).

The FBI was again roundly criticized following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the anthrax mailings of that same year. This time, the principal issue was a bureaucratic culture trained to resist any sharing of intelligence with other agencies, from local police to the Federal Aviation Administration. Still, FBI authority was expanded once more when Attorney General John Ashcroft called for a wartime restructuring of federal anti-terrorist efforts, and by the electronic surveillance authority provided by the U.S. Patriot Act of 2001. Ashcroft also rescinded the Levi guidelines.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Federal Bureau of Investigation. "Freedom of Information Act Reading Room Index." Compiled 20 June 2001. Available from http://foia.fbi.gov/foiaindex.htm.

Jeffreys, Diarmuid. The Bureau: Inside the Modern FBI. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1995.

Kelly, John F., and Phillip K. Wearne. Tainting Evidence: Inside the Scandals at the FBI Crime Lab. New York: Free Press, 1998.

Kessler, Ronald. The FBI: Inside the World's Most Powerful Law Enforcement Agency. New York: Pocket Books, 1973.

O'Reilly, Kenneth. Hoover and the Un-Americans: The FBI, HUAC, and the Red Menace. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1983.

———. Racial Matters: The FBI's Secret File on Black America, 1960–1972. New York: Free Press, 1989.

Theoharis, Athan, et al., eds. The FBI: A Comprehensive Reference Guide. New York: Checkmark Books, 2000.

Ungar, Sanford J. FBI. Boston: Little, Brown, 1976.

Whitehead, Don. The FBI Story: A Report to the People. New York: Random House, 1956.

Kenneth O'Reilly

See alsoAnticommunism ; Civil Rights and Liberties ; Crime, Organized ; Electronic Surveillance ; Intelligence, Military and Strategic ; 9/11 Attack ; Police Power .

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"Federal Bureau of Investigation." Dictionary of American History. 2003. Encyclopedia.com. 28 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Federal Bureau of Investigation." Dictionary of American History. 2003. Retrieved May 28, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3401801489.html

Federal Bureau of Investigation

FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the principal investigative unit of the U.S. department of justice (DOJ). The FBI gathers and reports facts, compiles evidence, and locates witnesses in legal matters in which the United States is or may be a party in interest. In addition, the bureau assists both U.S. and international law enforcement agencies in crime investigation and personnel training.

The FBI investigates all violations of federal law except those specifically assigned to other federal agencies. The bureau's jurisdiction covers a wide range of crimes, from kidnapping and drug trafficking to the unauthorized use of the Woodsy Owl emblem, the U.S. Forest Service's antipollution mascot (18 U.S.C.A. § 711a). The FBI's authority derives from 28 U.S.C.A. § 533, which enables the attorney general to "appoint officials to detect … crimes against the United States." The bureau also conducts noncriminal investigations, such as background security checks. The FBI does not prosecute crimes, but it assists other law enforcement agencies in investigations that lead to prosecution.

The FBI traces its origins to 1908 when President theodore roosevelt instructed Attorney General Charles J. Bonaparte to create a force of special agents to work as investigators within the DOJ. In 1909, Attorney General george w. wickersham named the elite group the Bureau of Investigation. In 1935, following a series of name changes, the bureau was officially termed the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In its early days, the FBI investigated the relatively small number of federal crimes that existed. These included bankruptcy frauds and antitrust violations. During world war i, it was responsible for investigating espionage, sabotage, sedition, and violations of the selective service Act of 1917 (Act May 18, 1917, c. 15, 40 Stat. 76 [Comp. Stat. 1918, § 2044a-2044k]). In 1919, the bureau broadened its scope to include the investigation of motor vehicle thefts.

The FBI established its reputation as a tenacious investigative force during prohibition, in

the 1930s. Its many undercover probes throughout that era led to the arrests of notorious crime figures such as John Dillinger and al capone. With the onset of world war ii and the advent of the atomic age, the FBI increased its size and scope to include domestic and foreign intelligence and counterintelligence probes, background security checks, and investigations of internal security matters for the executive branch.

During the 1960s, the bureau's chief concerns were civil rights violations and organized crime operations. Counterterrorism, white-collar crimes, illegal drugs, and violent crimes were its focus during the 1970s and 1980s.

The modern FBI divides its investigations among seven major areas: applicant matters (background checks on applicants and candidates for federal positions), civil rights, counterterrorism, foreign counterintelligence, drugs and organized crime, violent crimes and major offenders, and white-collar crimes. It has nine divisions in three offices located at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. These divisions provide program direction and support services to 56 field offices, 400 satellite offices (known as resident agencies), and 4 specialized field installations within the United States, as well as 22 liaison posts outside the United States. The bureau employs approximately 10,000 special agents and over 13,000 support personnel.

In addition to its investigative work on federal crimes, the FBI provides investigative and training support to other law enforcement agencies. The FBI Laboratory, one of the largest and most comprehensive crime laboratories in the world, is the only full-service federal forensic lab. FBI examiners perform crime scene searches, surveillance, fingerprint examinations, and other scientific and technical services. They also train state and local crime laboratory and law enforcement personnel. Through the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS), the FBI provides sophisticated identification and information services to local, state, federal, and international law enforcement agencies. Among the aids available through CJIS is a state-of-the-art automated fingerprint identification system. The bureau also offers extensive training programs to FBI employees and other law enforcement personnel at the FBI Academy, in Quantico, Virginia.

The FBI is headed by a director, the first and most famous of whom was j. edgar hoover. Appointed in 1924 at the age of 29, Hoover led the bureau for 48 years, until his death in 1972. He is credited with building a highly disciplined force of efficient and respected investigators. During Hoover's tenure, the FBI established its centralized fingerprint file, crime laboratory, and training center for police officers. But Hoover was criticized as an autocrat who wielded his power against anyone he considered a threat to U.S. security. He was obsessively anti-Communist, and critics charge that his single-minded quest to root out all political dissent led to the harassment of suspects and suspension of their civil liberties.

L. Patrick Gray III became acting director upon Hoover's death. He was succeeded in 1973 by another acting director, William D. Ruckelshaus, who was replaced later that year by Clarence M. Kelley, a former FBI agent. Kelley is credited with modernizing the bureau, curbing arbitrary investigations, and opening the special agent ranks to women and minorities. He presided over the bureau until 1978 when William H. Webster was appointed director. Webster was replaced by acting director John E. Otto in 1987. Otto stepped down later that year and was replaced by William S. Sessions.

During Sessions's tenure, African American and Hispanic agents charged the bureau with racial discrimination and harassment. Sessions settled these claims with the groups and instituted policies to increase the number of women and minorities in the agency. In 1993, Sessions was dismissed from his post by President bill clinton amid allegations of unethical conduct. Then Clinton appointed a former FBI agent and federal judge, Louis J. Freeh.

A number of controversies have plague the FBI in recent years, including the handling of the confrontation with white separatist Randall Weaver at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992; questions on the handling of the Branch Davidian standoff near Waco, Texas, in 1993; issues with the interrogation of Richard Jewell after the 1996 Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta during the 1996 Olympics; and problems uncovered at the FBI's crime laboratory in 1997. Between 2000 and 2002, three cases caused the FBI additional headaches: the FBI's belated release of documents related to the Oklahoma City bombing; mishandling of the espionage investigation of Wen Ho Lee, nuclear scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico; and the damage caused by the actions of long-term Russian and Soviet spy, FBI agent Robert Hanssen.

The FBI came under fire for its investigation of Wen Ho Lee, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Taiwan, and a nuclear weapons specialist with the U.S. energy department at Los Alamos, New Mexico. Fired in March 1999 and arrested months later on 59 counts of mishandling classified nuclear data, he was never officially charged with espionage. In 2000, he pleaded guilty to one charge of downloading nuclear weapons design secrets to a nonsecure computer. The government dropped the remaining charges. Lee was sentenced to time served. He had been held nine months without bail in solitary confinement. A report by the justice department called the FBI's investigation of the Lee case "deeply and fundamentally flawed," The New York Times reported.

In January 2001 the FBI was criticized for its handling of the Oklahoma City bombing investigation after FBI employees discovered that more than 1000 documents related to Timothy McVeigh's and Terry Nichols's trials for the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, had not been released. Once informed of the problem, FBI managers failed to promptly notify FBI headquarters or prosecutors. The blunder led to a one-month postponement of McVeigh's execution in May 2001. Nichols sought to have his convictions for manslaughter and conspiracy overturned based upon the FBI's gaffe, but the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that nothing in the documents would have changed the outcome of Nichol's case.

The revelation of the espionage activities of the FBI's own agent, Robert Hanssen, was one of the most embarrassing incidents in the bureau's recent history. In 1979, about three years after he started working for the FBI, Hanssen began selling secrets to the Soviets. He continued spying off and on for 22 years until the time of his arrest. Some have called Hanssen the most damaging spy in U.S. history, turning over an estimated 26 diskettes and 6,000 pages of classified documents to the Soviet Union and Russia in exchange for cash and jewelry. He was sentenced in 2002 to life in prison. A subsequent probe initiated by Attorney General john ashcroft showed serious deficiencies in the FBI's internal security programs.

In response to the september 11th attacks and the terrorist threats against the United States, the FBI stepped up its counterterrorism measures to hunt down and capture suspected terrorists. The bureau works with the newly established homeland security department to protect U.S. citizens from the dangers of terrorist activities within the country's borders. FBI Director Robert S. Mueller called the fight against terrorism the bureau's top priority.

further readings

FBI site. Available online at <www.fbi.gov> (accessed November 20, 2003).

Jeffreys, Diarmuid. 1995. The Bureau. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Kessler, Ronald. 1993. The FBI. New York: Pocket Books.

Shapiro, Howard M. 1994. "The FBI in the 21st Century." Cornell International Law Journal. 28.

cross-references

Forensic Science; Justice Department.

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FBI (United States Federal Bureau of Investigation)

FBI (United States Federal Bureau of Investigation)

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the nation's primary federal investigative service. The mission of the FBI is to uphold and enforce federal criminal laws; aid international, state, and local police and investigative services when appropriate; and to protect the United States against terrorism and threats to national interests.

An important part of the FBI'smandate includes forensic science , both directly in the form of field investigations of accidents or deaths deemed of national interest, and in the maintenance of databases that can be accessed by local, state and federal law enforcement, and forensic investigators. An example of the latter function is the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFID), which maintains millions of fingerprints for perusal.

The FBI employs nearly 30,000 men and women, including 12,000 special agents. The organization, headquartered in Washington, D.C., is field-oriented, maintaining a network of over 50 domestic field offices, 45 foreign posts, and 400 satellite offices (resident agencies). The agency relies on both foreign and domestic intelligence information, since the agency only has jurisdiction in interstate or federal crimes.

Origins and Formation of the FBI

In the nineteenth century, municipal and state governments shouldered the responsibility of law enforcement. State legislatures defined crimes, and criminals were prosecuted in local courts. The development of railroads and automobiles, coupled with advancements in communication technology, introduced a new type of crime that the contemporary legal and law enforcement system was unequipped to handle. Criminals were able to evade the law by fleeing over state lines. To combat the growing trend of interstate crime, President Theodore Roosevelt proposed the creation of a federal investigative and law enforcement agency.

In 1908 Roosevelt and his Attorney General, Charles Bonaparte, created a force of Special Agents within the Department of Justice. They sought the expertise of accountants, lawyers, Secret Service agents, and detectives to staff the ranks of the new investigative service. The new recruits reported for examination and training on July 26, 1908. This first corps of federal agents was the forerunner of the modern FBI.

When the federal bureau began operations, there were few federal crimes in the legal statutes. Federal agents investigated railroad scams, banking crimes, labor violations, and antitrust cases. The findings of their investigations, however, were usually disclosed to local or state law enforcement officials and courts for prosecution. In 1910, the federal government passed the Mann Act, expanding the jurisdiction of the investigation bureau by outlawing the transport of women over state lines for the purpose of prostitution. Granting federal agents the right to investigate, arrest, and prosecute persons in violation of the Mann Act solidified the interstate authority of federal investigative services.

The intervening decades, including the first World War, saw the FBI's mandate evolve. This evolution was particularly dramatic during the 1920s and 1930s, during the early tenure of director J. Edgar Hoover . Under Hoover's direction, the field office network grew from nine offices to over 30 offices within ten years. Agency personnel policy changed, requiring new agents to complete a rigorous, centralized training course. Promotions within the organization were secured through merit and consistency of service, not seniority. The agency still sought agent-recruits with training in accountancy and law, but expanded their search to include linguists, mathematicians, physicists, chemists, medical practitioners, and forensic specialists.

Technical advancements also changed agency operations. Basic forensic investigation began to be employed in FBI crime scene investigations. The Bureau established a fingerprint identification and index system in 1924. The national index assumed fingerprint records from state and local law enforcement agencies, as well as an older Department of Justice fingerprint registry dating back to 1905. The agency opened its first Technical Laboratory in 1932. The facility quickly expanded to cover a variety of forensic research, aiding investigators by comparing bullets, guns, tire tracks , watermarks, counterfeiting techniques, handwriting samples, and pathology reports.

In the 1960s, for example, the agency's forensic efforts helped prosecute criminals in several high profile civil rights cases. Field agents in Louisiana and Mississippi investigated the murder of three voter registration workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi, before turning the case over to FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. FBI agents conducted crime scene, forensics, and extended investigations of the assassinations of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King, Jr. and Medgar Evers. They eventually arrested, aided in the prosecution of, and gained convictions for the assassins, although Byron De La Beckwith, who shot Medger Evers, was not found guilty until 1994.

Forensic accounting became an important part of the FBI's operations. Combating the rise of white-collar financial crimes and the drug trade were other priorities of the FBI during the 1980s. FBI investigations implicated high-ranking government officials in financial fraud and abuse of power scandals, including members of the Congress (ABSCAM), the defense industry (ILL WIND), and the judiciary (GREYLORD). Federal agents also investigated fraud cases during the savings and loan crisis.

To aid its current operations, the FBI embraced the use of several new technologies in its operations. Aid came with the advent of personal computers and Internet research, speeding up the processing of investigation information. Searchable databases now store information on suspects, crime statistics, fingerprints, and DNA samples. However, their use also created security risks that necessitated the creation of specialized information systems protection task forces. The agency created Computer Analysis and Response Teams (CART) to aid field investigators with the recovery of data from damaged or sabotaged electronic sources. In 1998, the establishment of the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) permitted the FBI to monitor the dissemination of computer viruses and worms.

Forensic use of DNA radically altered both the legal process and forensic research of FBI investigations. DNA analysis allows specialists to positively identify victims and perpetrators of crimes by comparing particular patterns in individual DNA. FBI forensic specialists created a national DNA databank in 1998 to aid ongoing investigations.

After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, and subsequent anthrax attacks on national post offices and media outlets, the FBI expanded its counterintelligence and counter-terrorism operations to include anti-bioterrorism task forces. Various forensic techniques germane to the detection of biological agents are used in this effort, which continues to the present day.

see also Anthrax; Bioterrorism; FBI crime laboratory; Integrated automated fingerprint identification system.

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Federal Bureau of Investigation

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), division of the U.S. Dept. of Justice charged with investigating all violations of federal laws except those assigned to some other federal agency. The FBI has jurisdiction over some 185 investigative matters, among them espionage, sabotage, and other subversive activities; kidnapping; extortion; bank robbery; interstate transportation of stolen property; civil-rights matters; interstate gambling violations; and fraud against the government. Created (1908) as the Bureau of Investigation, it originally conducted investigations only for the Justice Dept. After J. Edgar Hoover became (1924) director of the Bureau of Investigation, Congress gradually added one duty after another to the jurisdiction of the bureau and reorganized (1933) it with wider powers as the Division of Investigation in the Dept. of Justice. In 1935 it was designated the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI played an important role in raising the standards of local police units through its FBI Academy. Under Hoover's direction, it battled against such roving outlaws as John Dillinger and "Pretty Boy" Floyd as well as against the organized crime of the prohibition era. From World War I on, the agency also was active in intelligence work, investigating anarchists such as Emma Goldman and other political radicals, socialists, and Communists, Nazi saboteurs, and terrorists such as Osama bin Laden.

During Hoover's final years as director (he served until his death in 1972), the bureau became highly controversial and was the frequent target of attack from a wide variety of liberal groups. During the Watergate affair it was revealed that the FBI had yielded to pressure from top White House officials, acting on behalf of President Richard M. Nixon, to halt their investigation of the Watergate break-in. The FBI subsequently cooperated with the White House "inquiry" into the break-in, which was actually attempting a cover-up, and FBI Acting Director L. Patrick Gray destroyed files belonging to one of the convicted Watergate conspirators, E. Howard Hunt. Gray resigned (Apr., 1973) after his role became public. In June, 1973, Clarence M. Kelley was named director. He was followed by William H. Webster (1978–87), William S. Sessions (1987–93), Louis J. Freeh (1993–2001), and Robert S. Mueller 3d (2001–).

See H. A. Overstreet, The FBI in Our Open Society (1969); W. W. Turner, Hoover's FBI (1970); R. O. Wright, ed., Whose FBI? (1974); J. T. Elliff, The Reform of the FBI Intelligence Activities (1979); F. M. Sorrentino, Ideological Warfare: The F.B.I.'s Path toward Power (1985); B. Burrough, Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI: 1933–34 (2004); T. Weiner, Enemies: A History of the F.B.I. (2012).

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Federal Bureau of Investigation

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) US federal government agency that investigates violations of federal law, especially those concerning internal security. Its findings are reported to the attorney general and various nationwide attorneys for decisions on prosecution. Established in 1908, its autonomy was strengthened under the directorship (1924–72) of J. Edgar Hoover. Its headquarters are in Washington, D.C., and the president appoints its director, subject to Senate approval.

http://www.fbi.gov

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Federal Bureau of Investigation

Federal Bureau of Investigation an agency of the US federal government that deals principally with internal security and counter-intelligence and that also conducts investigations in federal law enforcement. It was established in 1908 as a branch of the Department of Justice, but was substantially reorganized under the controversial directorship (1924–72) of J. Edgar Hoover.

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ELIZABETH KNOWLES. "Federal Bureau of Investigation." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 2006. Encyclopedia.com. 28 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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FBI

FBI • abbr. Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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FBI

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FBI

FBI (USA) Federal Bureau of Investigation

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FRAN ALEXANDER , PETER BLAIR , JOHN DAINTITH , ALICE GRANDISON , VALERIE ILLINGWORTH , ELIZABETH MARTIN , ANNE STIBBS , JUDY PEARSALL , and SARA TULLOCH. "FBI." The Oxford Dictionary of Abbreviations. 1998. Encyclopedia.com. 28 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

FRAN ALEXANDER , PETER BLAIR , JOHN DAINTITH , ALICE GRANDISON , VALERIE ILLINGWORTH , ELIZABETH MARTIN , ANNE STIBBS , JUDY PEARSALL , and SARA TULLOCH. "FBI." The Oxford Dictionary of Abbreviations. 1998. Encyclopedia.com. (May 28, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O25-FBI.html

FRAN ALEXANDER , PETER BLAIR , JOHN DAINTITH , ALICE GRANDISON , VALERIE ILLINGWORTH , ELIZABETH MARTIN , ANNE STIBBS , JUDY PEARSALL , and SARA TULLOCH. "FBI." The Oxford Dictionary of Abbreviations. 1998. Retrieved May 28, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O25-FBI.html

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