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FBI Intelligence LogoIf you're the FBI, how do you protect the nation in the 21st century ... in an age when entrenched, sophisticated criminal, terrorist, and hostile intelligence networks operate seamlessly across national borders, enabled by technology that allows hostile action to lash out at lightning speed from anywhere around the world?

One important answer: intelligence.

What is intelligence? Intelligence is essentially information on security threats facing our country. It includes the individual bits of information (say, about a certain individual or group), the larger body of information, and the conclusions that are reached from that information. To put it another way: You've probably heard the phrase "connecting the dots." Intelligence is not just the dots (individually and collectively) but also the picture drawn from connecting those dots.

So why is intelligence so important? Simply put, good intelligence enables good decisions. The more information you have about a certain security threat -- say, details on when, where, and how a terrorist attack is coming -- the better you can prepare and respond. Or, the more you know about how a certain organized crime family works and who its key players are, the easier it is to develop a cohesive strategy to disrupt and dismantle it. In today's world, it almost goes without saying: having the right information at the right time is essential to protecting our country.

What is the FBI's role in intelligence? The FBI is one of more than a dozen agencies that make up the U. S. Intelligence Community, along with the CIA, NSA, the State Department, Treasury, Homeland Security, various military components, and other agencies. For the FBI, intelligence is one of several key tools that we rely on to protect our nation. It helps us aim at and carry out investigations against threats. It also is our responsibility to produce and share intelligence gleaned from those investigations with our intelligence and law enforcement partners.

New realities, new approaches. For years, collecting and assimilating intelligence has been a core competency and key responsibility of the FBI, one that has grown organically in response to our evolving mission. Today, new, complex, interconnected global threats require new approaches to intelligence. In recent months, the FBI has made a series of important changes ... improving how intelligence is collected and analyzed, how it is packaged and shared both inside and outside the FBI, and how it is measured and managed Bureau-wide.

In the days ahead, we will be spotlighting important elements of the FBI's intelligence program and sharing more specifics on ongoing changes. Stay tuned!

Links: Overview of the FBI's Intelligence Program | Meet Executive Assistant Director of Intelligence Maureen Baginski