What is the FBI?

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is an American law enforcement, intelligence, and security agency. Its mission is to defend the Constitution and protect citizens. It operates under the Department of Justice, answers to the attorney general and the Office of the Director of Homeland Security, and collaborates with other agencies to ensure it. The headquarters of the FBI is located in Washington DC and its director is appointed by the president of the United States with the consent of the Senate. It has more than 35,000 employees and more than fifty offices in the country and in Puerto Rico, and with offices around the world to exchange information with foreign agencies.

An agency for national security

The origin of the FBI dates back to 1908 as the Bureau of Investigation. The Department of Justice created this body to confront violence, fraud and corruption, which is on the rise in cities, and to act at the federal level. Anarchism and its violent acts were also gaining strength and criminal instruments at the national level did not respond to the social problems of the United States. With the First World War, the organization gained importance due to the need to protect the country from international espionage and sabotage.

In 1924, John Edgar Hoover became director of the corps and remained in office for 48 years. During his tenure he modernized the institution with new research techniques. In the 1930s, the FBI acquired its current name, began the “war on crime” and stood out fighting the Ku Klux Klan. Some well-known investigations were the persecution of the gangster Al Capone in 1929, the escape of two brothers from Alcatraz prison in 1934 or the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

However, Hoover was also criticized for the FBI’s espionage and persecution of politicians, activists and movie stars. After his tenure, the Senate limited the agency’s leadership to a maximum of ten years. Since then, the institution has adapted to combat new forms of crime and corruption, expanded its presence in different parts of the world and has had to act in the face of new threats to national security such as terrorism, especially when it investigated the 9/11 attacks.

Terrorism, espionage and corruption: the fronts of the FBI

The FBI is a police agency and is also part of the American intelligence community. Therefore, it combines specialized training and tactics, science and technology tools, intelligence capabilities and special forces. It operates under the Department of Justice and collaborates with other agencies, such as the CIA, to protect national security. Also with state prosecutor’s offices and other federal, state and local inspection and regulatory offices to enforce the law in the United States.

The functions of the FBI cover various areas. The main three are terrorism, which seeks to neutralize and dismantle, cybercrime, which involves different types of crimes, and counterintelligence, to prevent and investigate intelligence and espionage activities in the country. Another priority of the FBI is to combat corruption in public institutions, including electoral crimes.

The FBI is also the primary federal agency responding to threats from weapons of mass destruction, chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or explosive weapons. It seeks to prevent attacks by investigating and collecting information about possible national and international threats. At the same time, the FBI investigates everything from hate crimes and abuses of power to human trafficking to enforce civil rights. It also pursues organized crime, including drug trafficking, as well as violent crimes and white-collar crimes or direct intimidation such as theft or fraud.