U.S. News


FBI's Primary Mission No Longer 'Law Enforcement'

The agency quietly changed its mission statement to list its primary function as "national security" rather than "law enforcement."
Posted at 3:07 PM, Jan 07, 2014

​If you happened to take a look at the FBI’s fact sheet recently, you may have noticed something odd.

Its mission statement used to read "The primary function of the FBI is law enforcement."

It now reads: “The primary function of the FBI is national security.” (Via PolicyMic)

Now, it’s no secret the agency that built its reputation rounding up bad guys has shifted away from a focus on domestic crime toward counterterrorism in recent years. (Via History Channel

After 9/11, then-FBI director Robert Mueller restructured the agency to make fighting terrorism more of a priority. (Via C-SPAN

Just a glance at the FBI’s website will tell you that much. It notes, “The attacks led to far-reaching changes in the organization.”

Sure enough, an Inspector General’s report found between 2001-2009, the FBI doubled the number of agents devoted to combating terrorism. (Via U.S. Justice Department

So the rebranding then, is hardly a surprise, but is noteworthy.

Some critics have expressed concerns with more agency assets going to counterrorism, the FBI can no longer effectively combat white-collar crime. (Via The New York Times, Los Angeles Times)

Research from Syracuse University seems to lend support to that line of thinking. It found while the number of counterterrorism cases increased, the number of white-collar crimes investigated by the agency has drastically decreased over the past decade.

In 2000, the FBI investigated 10,000 white-collar cases. Five years later, that number dropped to 3,500. (Via National Geographic)

But an FBI spokesperson told Foreign Policy — which first reported the story — the change in wording is just that. A change in words but not a change in policy.

Still, as one former FBI agent told the magazine, it's hard to deny there's been a reduction in resources available to combat violent and white collar crime, and it’s come at a cost, saying: "Are there cases they missed? Probably."