The FBI operates mainly through its agents which are planted at all designated places that interest the FBI. With the aid of all its sophisticated equipments, the bureau carries out investigation using DNA, Fingerprints, wire tapping, surveillance etc. The agents carry out investigations mostly from the field offices dotted across the United States, under the supervision of superiors at the headquarters or field office as applicable. Information and evidence are gathered against criminals to be used in convicting them in the court of law.
The agents are allowed to indulge in some privileged acts while in the line of duty. Acts which ordinarily violates the individual right, such as eavesdropping, breaking into individual apartment, reading people’s mails, video tapping individual’s daily activities etc, but agents are only permitted to do such acts while they are on duty. When not on duty, agents have no authority to carry out these acts, for they have equal power with other citizen. While on duty, agents are not only allowed to arrest, they also carry firearm and other gadgets and can either shoot to disarm or to even shoot to kill criminals.
Agents are allowed to access confidential documents of others in the course of investigation with the permission of the court. They may also carry weapons in the plane if they deem fit and do many more. (Reid,2006) As earlier stated, FBI work in conjunction with other agents, hence if need be, its agent can request for the assistance of the CIA, Interpol, foreign organizations and even governments of other countries. Agents are usually assigned with special assignments such as hostage rescuing, anti- terrorism and other highly sensitive and dangerous situations.
FBI is also assigned the insightful responsibility of intelligence report and other sensitive information management. The criteria for recruitment into the FBI are many, some of them are: special agents must be citizens of the United States and must between the ages of 23 years to 36 years. All applicants must have graduated from the university or finished a 4 year program from a recognized college. FBI has a preference for applicants with a law degree or accountancy simply because they are relatively easy to teach federal criminal laws and financial crimes, respectively.
Applicants that are multi lingua and those with tangible number of years of relevant work experience are also favoured. All agents to-be must be drug free, have a valid driver’s license and pass a series of medical examination. Lastly, all potential agents must undergo thorough background check before appointment. Applicants should be in perfect physical condition. A comprehensive training scheme awaits all new agents at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, where they are taught all about federal law, crime investigation, defensive tactics, use of firearms and other subjects.
Agents undergo a continuous in-service training on the latest development in law enforcement and other combat skills. (Reid,2006) Since the FBI has the wildest investigative authority among other agencies, it has the jurisdiction of investigating all criminal activities at the federal level, all criminal violations that have not been specially assigned to any other agency by the United States Congress automatically becomes the responsibility of the FBI .
Again, the FBI is permitted to undertake investigation on matters at the special request of the president, attorney general of the United States, or under any law passed by Congress. Only the FBI is bestowed with this special directive. While other agencies have specified and limited responsibilities, the FBI tackles the investigation of diverse federal crimes, which include drug trafficking and peddling, terrorism and espionage, bank robbery and extortion, kidnapping, highly organized crime etc. The agency is also in charge of investigating civil rights violations at the federal level, such as racial violence, police brutality.
Other special tasks the bureau conduct are money laundering, misappropriation of funds, bank frauds, corrupt practices in the government, environmental crimes, cyber crimes and other crimes related to computer. (Reid,2006) Furthermore, the presidency also enjoys the protection of the FBI, for the bureau handles all cases relating to violence or threat to the president, vice president and the entire members of the congress. All the findings in the course of its investigation are made accessible to the justice department who overly decides whether or not to charge suspects to court.
Yet again, the FBI has the jurisdiction of making non-criminal researches and inquiries on individuals or organizations it deems necessary. It may also collate evidence in civil suit against the Federal government. The bureau does a background check for some federal employees, most especially the Cabinet and the Supreme Court nominees, employees in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission etc. It is also attached to other federal agencies to help achieve the federal goals. For example, it works with DEA in other to nab drug barons, it also works CIA to curb foreign spies in the United States.
The bureau has been equipped all kinds of technological gadgetss to pursue any investigation it is assigned to. The FBI indeed can be said to be the most equipped and most technological advanced agency. (Reid,2006) Apparently, it seems the FBI has been bestowed with too much power and assignment, for its jurisdiction seems to be too broad and limitless. This is not the case, for there are many functions exclusively withdrawn from the jurisdiction of the FBI. Some of these functions are investigations relating to Violation of customs and revenue laws, this is handled by United States Customs service.
Again, cases of counterfeiting are beyond the jurisdiction of the FBI, for this is within the jurisdiction of the Secret Service. Violation of postal laws are not concerns of the bureau too, these are handled by the United States Postal Services. Furthermore, intelligence acts against other foreign nations that are related to national security are handled by the CIA and not the FBI. Nevertheless, the FBI has the jurisdiction to investigate cases of terrorism outside of the United States, but only on the condition that it is aimed at United States’ citizens or embassies.
(Benson) Summarily, the FBI’s major assignments are: “to fight significant violent crimes, guard the United States from terrorist attack, foreign intelligence operations and espionage, tackle public corruption at both federal and local levels, investigate important white-collar crime, protect civil rights, protect the nation against cyber-based attacks and high-technology crimes” etc. Conclusion In conclusion, the activists of the FBI are quite numerously and one can hardly list all. They have achieved in controlling crime in virtually all the spheres of life.
From political crimes, to economic and financial crimes, to organized crimes and many more, the FBI’s efforts have positively impacted the security in the United States. However, despite all these, the FBI has involved itself several controversies and received many criticism from different quarters. Among the controversies are the March 1971 media scandal in Pennsylvania, where stolen FBI’s documents revealed FBI’s investigations into ordinary citizen’s life. Again, the World War I (1914-1918) brought some controversies about the bureau (Jalon, 2006). The Congress unanimously accused the FBI of undue process in its investigation.
They claim FBI violated the Draft Laws, sabotage, espionage and carrying out counter intelligence acts against the power at the centre. After the war, communists, anarchist Trade union and civil right activists became the target of the FBI. The bureau and the local police arrested all indiscriminately across the country . The bureau witness its most severe criticism after this controversial issue for it was revealed by an independent evaluation that the arrests were full of illegal arrests, searches and seizures, denial of legal counsel, poor treatment of detainees etc.
Another major controversy of the FBI was the discovery that its fingerprint department has been involved with a lot of mistakes in the past. Technical reports proved instances where evidence that was supposed to clear suspects ended up proving suspects guilty. Yet another controversy was the discovery that Robert Hansen, a top FBI agent was selling information to the Russians since 1979 and was probably involved with the September 11 attack without the FBI detection. Overly, none can deny the fact that since the formation of the FBI, it has helped solved more crimes than several agencies.
The United States has been listed as suggested as the most intelligent security agent since the formation of the FBI. Today, it has indeed fulfilled it mission of beefing-up security in the United States. In year 2007 alone, FBI’s investigations have helped solved several cases of crimes which include over 110 cases of Bank robbery and incidental crimes, over 100 cases of Drugs, over 50 cases of Mail fraud, the list is almost endless. (Jalon,2006) The achievements of the FBI over the decades are too numerous to be listed in a single publication.
None can logically argue that since the inception of the FBI, the United States has not achieved its security goals in defending the nation and collating intelligent reports on national interest . The FBI is indeed purposeful. Today, it is possible for any individual to acquire a copy of FBI’s file on himself/ herself. The FBI has the most comprehensive data base with enormous information on several individual and organizations across the globe.
Kessler, Ronald. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Microsoft® Student 2007 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2006. http://www.winchesterstar.com/thewinchesterstar/060726/area_fbi.asp