Federal Bureau of Investigation

(redirected from FBI agent)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Wikipedia.

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), division of the U.S. Dept. of Justice charged with investigating all violations of federal laws except those assigned to some other federal agency. The FBI has jurisdiction over some 185 investigative matters, among them espionage, sabotage, and other subversive activities; kidnapping; extortion; bank robbery; interstate transportation of stolen property; civil-rights matters; interstate gambling violations; and fraud against the government. Created (1908) as the Bureau of Investigation, it originally conducted investigations only for the Justice Dept. After J. Edgar Hoover became (1924) director of the Bureau of Investigation, Congress gradually added one duty after another to the jurisdiction of the bureau and reorganized (1933) it with wider powers as the Division of Investigation in the Dept. of Justice. In 1935 it was designated the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI played an important role in raising the standards of local police units through its FBI Academy. Under Hoover's direction, it battled against such roving outlaws as John Dillinger and “Pretty Boy” Floyd as well as against the organized crime of the prohibition era. From World War I on, the agency also was active in intelligence work, investigating anarchists such as Emma Goldman and other political radicals, socialists, and Communists, Nazi saboteurs, and terrorists such as Osama bin Laden.

During Hoover's final years as director (he served until his death in 1972), the bureau became highly controversial and was the frequent target of attack from a wide variety of liberal groups. During the Watergate affair it was revealed that the FBI had yielded to pressure from top White House officials, acting on behalf of President Richard M. Nixon, to halt their investigation of the Watergate break-in. The FBI subsequently cooperated with the White House “inquiry” into the break-in, which was actually attempting a cover-up, and FBI Acting Director L. Patrick Gray destroyed files belonging to one of the convicted Watergate conspirators, E. Howard Hunt. Gray resigned (Apr., 1973) after his role became public. In June, 1973, Clarence M. Kelley was named director. He was followed by William H. Webster (1978–87), William S. Sessions (1987–93), Louis J. Freeh (1993–2001), Robert S. Mueller 3d (2001–13), James B, Comey, Jr. (2013–17), and Christopher Wray (2017–).

Bibliography

See H. A. Overstreet, The FBI in Our Open Society (1969); W. W. Turner, Hoover's FBI (1970); R. O. Wright, ed., Whose FBI? (1974); J. T. Elliff, The Reform of the FBI Intelligence Activities (1979); F. M. Sorrentino, Ideological Warfare: The F.B.I.'s Path toward Power (1985); B. Burrough, Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI: 1933–34 (2004); T. Weiner, Enemies: A History of the F.B.I. (2012).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The incident came as FBI agent Peter Strzok testified in a joint hearing before Gohmert's U.S.
I'm gonna be somewhere cuz I wanna see it go off," Pitts told an undercover FBI agent who he believed was affiliated with Al-Qaeda, the FBI said in court documents.
To make matters worse, four other FBI agents may have covered up for the first agent afterward, according to The Oregonian.
FBI agent Joel Cox is free on 1 million rupees ($9,800) bail.
The FBI agent told investigators, ''There was no doubt in my mind that Todashev intended to kill us both.''
Bullock is sheer perfection as the prim and proper FBI agent who plays things by the book but finds herself thrown into strange territory when partnered with a tough and rough cop (McCarthy is a force of nature, as always), with the pair going through the obligatory period of intense dislike before coming to appreciate one other.
According to the report, FBI Agent Brandon Grant said in court on Monday that searches last week of Curtis' vehicle and house in Corinth, Mississippi, found no ricin, ingredients for the poison, or devices used to make it.
FBI agents have arrested members of a radical Sunni Islam group in the US, killing one of its leaders in a shootout at a Michigan warehouse.
Don (Rob Morrow) investigates a string of copycat bank robberies and zeroes in on disgraced FBI Agent Roger Bloom (Henry Winkler).
Mulder keeps pestering Scully to join him in solving a mysterious case of an FBI agent being kidnapped.
Filmed against a beautiful, slightly sinister snowy backdrop, a young female FBI agent has been abducted, and all the Bureau have to go on is Father Joe (a really good turn from Billy Connolly): a disgraced priest, whose supposed psychic powers lead him to grisly clues.
FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast takes his ward Cons tance Greene to a temple in the Himalayas for a new outlook on life.