The Federal Bureau of Investigation wiki last edited by Darkside_of_the_Sun on 10/05/13 09:35PM View full history


The Federal Bureau of Investigation was created on July 26th, 1908. Its origins stem from 1886, when the Supreme Court determined that the extant state police had no right to regulate interstate trade. This resulted in the formation of a federal regulatory agency called the Interstate Commerce Commission. This agency suffered from staff shortages almost from its inception, but was mainly ignored until 1908, when the new Attorney General, Charles Joseph Bonaparte, began actively seeking aid from other agencies, most notably the Secret Service. However, a 1908 law forbid the involvement of Treasury employees in Justice business. Thus, Bonaparte began to organize a new organization under the name Bureau of Investigation, which had its own agents, twelve of whom had been drawn from the Secret Service. This organization eventually grew into a security organization in its own right, undertaking its first official case in June of 1910 when it was involved in the preparation for the Mann Act. In 1924 J. Edgar Hoover became the Director of the Bureau of Investigation. In 1932 the Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory, later simply known as the FBI Laboratory, was opened. At the same time, the agency was renamed as the United States Bureau of Investigation, and in 1933 it became involved in the activities of the Bureau of Prohibition and was again renamed, this time as the Division of Investigation. Finally, in 1935, it became its own agency within the Department of Justice, and received its final name- The Federal Bureau of Investigation. Throughout its early years the Bureau was mainly involved in investigation into the actions of organized crime, bank robbery and occasionally illegal groups like the Ku Klux Klan. Most of their operations against organized crime were undertaken undercover, and were often related to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

Team Evolution

The 1940s saw the FBI's first involvement in the investigation into various cases of espionage against the American government. These counter-espionage actions were first taken against the Nazis, and later involved the FBI in a joint code-breaking venture with the British, which focused on coded Soviet messages. Increasing involvement in national security matters, especially those related to Soviet espionage efforts, allowed Hoover to act on his preoccupation with the threat he believed was posed by communism in the United States. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s grew increasingly inwards-focusing, as they became involved in the emergent civil rights movement. It became involved in domestic surveillance operations, under the heading of COINTELPRO (Counter-Intelligence Program) which served to investigate as well as destabilize the various political movements in the US, violent or not. Of particular interest to the FBI was peaceful activist Martin Luther King, Jr., who, having found no evidence of criminal activity, they attempted to blackmail with sexually explicit material. In 1964, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, the FBI was put in charge of the investigation. Legislation was passed putting the FBI in charge of all further cases of murder against federal officials. In 1971 revelations about the actions of the FBI hit the public when an FBI office was robbed of classified files that detailed the extensive actions of the FBI through COINTELPRO, including invasive investigations into the lives of ordinary citizens. These files were leaked to various newspapers. Through the 1970s the involvement of the FBI in espionage activities began to decline.

In 1982 the Hostage Rescue Team was formed in response to the necessity of countering terrorism and major crimes. It currently acts as a paramilitary unit of the FBI. In 1984 the Computer Analysis and Response Team (CART) was formed to deal with computer-related issues. The FBI Laboratory became involved in DNA testing, which it helped to develop. Through to the early 1990s a number of agents were reassigned to investigation into violent crimes as the terrorist threat diminished. As well, the FBI became involved in aiding local police in tracking criminals that had fled over state lines or committed crimes in multiple states. However, by 1993 the terrorist threat had grown again, as represented by the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and the FBI again became involved in counter-terrorism. Their involvement in these matters continued through the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995 and the arrest of the Unabomber in 1996. Also during the 1990s the FBI took some public criticism over their intervention in the Ruby Ridge and Waco incidents, 1992 and 1993 respectively, and in the Centennial Park Bombing in 1996. In 1998 the FBI undertook an extensive technological upgrade, creating the Computer Investigation and Infrastructure Threat Assessment Center (CITAC) as well as the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) to deal with computer- and internet-related crimes. Simultaneously, electronic surveillance for the purpose of public safety and national security was stepped up.

After the September 11th attacks in 2001, the FBI was reorganized to put more focus on combating federal crimes, especially terrorism, as well as organized crime, white-collar crime, cyber security and public corruption, among others. 2002 saw the imprisonment of Robert Hanssen, a previously high-ranking FBI agent who was revealed to be passing information to foreign intelligence agencies. This was yet another public relations blow for the FBI. A report on the 9/11 attacks released in 2004 laid partial blame at the feet of the FBI along with the CIA, who were determined to have been remiss in their duties. In response to this criticism the FBI made numerous changes, most notably the creation of the position of Director of National Intelligence, which oversees FBI operations. However the FBI has been accused of refusing to make any real changes. Later reports, released in 2007, suggest that the decentralized nature of FBI operations caused them to miss several chances to prevent the 9/11 attacks.


Currently, the FBI is headquartered in the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, DC, and has 56 field offices and 400 resident agencies scattered throughout the country. Several other important sections of the FBI, such as the FBI Academy, are located in Quantico, Virginia. Currently there are just under 34,000 employees, of which 13,400 are agents and 20,420 are other support staff, such as computer analysts or linguists.

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