Today's FBI: Introduction to the FBI

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is unique in having a dual responsibility—to prevent harm to national security as a member of the United States Intelligence Community, and to enforce federal laws as part of the Department of Justice. The Bureau reports to both the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence.

Bald Eagle


As a national security organization, the mission of the FBI is to protect and defend the United States against terrorist and foreign intelligence threats, to uphold and enforce the criminal laws of the United States, and to provide leadership and criminal justice services to federal, state, municipal, and international agencies and partners.

The organization with these responsibilities has not always been called the FBI.

Federal Bureau of Investigation and Prior Names

Designated as


No specific name assigned;
referred to as Special Agent Force
July 26, 1908
Bureau of Investigation March 16, 1909
U.S. Bureau of Investigation July 1, 1932

Division of Investigation
(The Division also included
the Bureau of Prohibition)

August 10, 1933
Federal Bureau of Investigation July 1, 1935


The FBI motto is “Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity.”

Core Values

The FBI strives for excellence in all aspects of its mission. In pursuing this mission, the FBI and its employees will be true to, and exemplify, the following core values:

  • Rigorous obedience to the Constitution of the United States
  • Respect for the dignity of all those we protect
  • Compassion
  • Fairness
  • Uncompromising personal integrity and institutional integrity
  • Accountability by accepting responsibility for our actions and decisions and the consequences of our actions and decisions
  • Leadership, both personal and professional

FBI Priorities

In executing the following priorities, we produce and use intelligence to protect the nation from threats and to bring to justice those who violate the law.

  1. Protect the United States from terrorist attacks
  2. Protect the United States against foreign intelligence operations and espionage
  3. Protect the United States against cyber-based attacks and high-technology crimes
  4. Combat public corruption at all levels
  5. Protect civil rights
  6. Combat international and national criminal organizations and enterprises
  7. Combat major white-collar crime
  8. Combat significant violent crime
  9. Support federal, state, county, municipal, and international partners
  10. Upgrade technology to successfully perform the FBI's mission

Legal Authorities

Federal law gives the FBI authority to investigate all federal crime not assigned exclusively to another federal agency (28, Section 533 of the U.S. Code.) Additionally, there are laws such as the Congressional Assassination, Kidnapping, and Assault Act (Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 351), which give the FBI responsibility to investigate specific crimes.

The FBI has special investigative jurisdiction to investigate violations of state law in limited circumstances, specifically felony killings of state law enforcement officers (28 U.S.C. § 540), violent crimes against interstate travelers (28 U.S.C. § 540A0), and serial killers (28 U.S.C. §540B). A request by an appropriate state official is required before the FBI has authority to investigate these matters.

The FBI has authority to investigate threats to the national security pursuant to Presidential executive orders, Attorney General authorities, and various statutory sources. (See: Executive Order 12333; 50 U.S.C. 401 et seq.; 50 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) “Threats to the national security” are specifically defined to mean: international terrorism; espionage and other intelligence activities, sabotage, and assassination, conducted by, for, or on behalf of foreign powers, organizations, or persons; foreign computer intrusion; and other matters determined by the Attorney General, consistent with Executive Order 12333 or any successor order.

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