Americans themselves, including the looming specter of crime, which directly or indirectly effects everyone on a constant basis. With this in mind, what is today known as the Federal Bureau of Investigation was formed in 1908 to serve a variety of functions in the American criminal justice system (Cook, 1964). This essay will discuss various facets of the FBI, both in a classical sense and in terms of the evolution of the duties and responsibilities of this internationally known law enforcement agency. Purpose
The purpose of the FBI has always been, in the most general sense, to enforce Federal law and protect the United States and its citizens (Cook, 1964). Obviously, a purpose as broad and demanding as this has required the pursuit of a variety of priorities over the years, and an adaptation of the agency to fight new types of criminal activity. In this respect, one of the most complete and thorough adaptations that the FBI has undergone in its nearly 100 year history has been the sort of re-tooling that the FBI employed to fight organized crime, and indeed continues to do so today.
Since the days of the stereotypical gangster with a machine gun in hand and a cigar in his mouth, organized crime has become an international enterprise, including such crimes as drug trafficking, white slavery, extortion, gambling, etc. Because of the strength of organized crime, and the obvious threat it poses to the stability of the American economy and the safety of common citizens, the FBI has targeted organized crime and made the eradication of it a main purpose of the bureau itself (United States Department Of Justice, 2006). Mission
Despite changes in the activities that the FBI undertakes in pursuit of its goals, the mission of the FBI has remained virtually unchanged since its inception; to quote the FBI charter itself, the FBI’s mission: “ … 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”(United States Department Of Justice, 2006) .
Over the many decades that the FBI has been in existence, exactly how that mission is fulfilled has taken on many forms, ranging from the pursuit of gangsters like Al Capone in the 1920s, the hunt for Communists living in the United States in the 1940s and 1950s, the battle for civil rights beginning in the late 1950s, and so forth. In the present day, with the constant threat of domestic terrorism, the war on drugs and the like, the FBI has renewed its commitment to its original mission, although by different means than it did in previous generations.
Duties Again speaking in broad term, the duties of the FBI are to preserve and protect the laws of the United States as well as looking out for the well being of American citizens through the enforcement of Federal law (Cook, 1964). While this duty has not changed, the means by which the duties are carried out has. Relating directly to the fulfillment of its mission, the FBI has duties in the 21st century that are undoubtedly related to the complexity of technology as much as the often complicated nature of domestic and international American relations.
For example, the FBI of today dedicates much of its time to battling cyber-crime, such as online fraud, the use of the Internet to prey on innocent children and the elderly, and the like (Bush, 2003). One important duty of the FBI which has not wavered in over 50 years is the pursuit of Civil Rights for all Americans. Unfair treatment of one group of Americans or another, strictly based on their race, ethnic background, religion, political affiliation, etc, is not only immoral and unfair, but it is also a violation of Federal law and the United States Constitution, which puts the enforcement of Civil Rights at the core of the duty of the FBI.
While it is a popular misconception that the battle for Civil Rights in the United States ended with the desegregation of schools and other public institutions in the 1950s, nothing can be farther from the reality of the situation. In fact, because of the advancement of communication tools like the Internet, hate groups are able to quickly spread their messages and recruit new members more efficiently, which is also a violation of Federal law (Bush, 2003). Therefore, Civil Rights deserve identification as, at least at this point, a perpetual duty of the FBI.
Responsibilities Having the responsibility of protecting the American people and the American nation is daunting to say the least and nearly impossible in reality. While the FBI has these aims as its primary responsibilities, the FBI does also have help from other organizations, and collaborates with other organizations to meet its responsibilities, an excellent example of which is the battle against right wing extremism in the United States, which has been cited as a major contributing factor to domestic terrorism, racism, and violence (Michael, 2003).
In this sense, the FBI has a huge responsibility on the home front alone, all but guaranteeing the longevity of the agency indefinitely. Organizational Information Ironically, for an organization that prides itself on secrecy and clandestine law enforcement, the FBI is well known to almost every American. At the very least, the FBI that the public is allowed to see is well known. In reality, the bottom line to the vitality and success of the FBI as an organization is secrecy; without it, the FBI’s goals and mission would be all but impossible.
Summary In closing, what can most fairly be said about the FBI is that its value to the protection of America is impossible to measure, its evolution is impressive, and the future of the agency will be driven by the demands of the criminal elements at work in the U. S. and beyond. Whatever the case, however, Americans can rest assured that the FBI is always “on the case”, wherever and however that case may emerge. References Breuer, W. B. (1995). J. Edgar Hoover and His G-Men.
Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers. Bush, R. (2003). The Civil Rights Movement and the Continuing Struggle for the Redemption of America. Social Justice, 30(1), 42+. Cook, F. J. (1964). The FBI Nobody Knows. New York: Macmillan. Michael, G. (2003). Confronting Right Wing Extremism and Terrorism in the USA. New York: Routledge. United States Department Of Justice. (2006). FBI Mission and Overview. Retrieved November 14, 2006, from United States Federal Bureau of Investigation Web Site: http://www. fbi. gov