What Is the Difference Between the FBI and the CIA?


Both the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are part of the U.S. Intelligence Community. The primary difference between the two agencies is that the CIA does not have a law enforcement function. The purpose of the CIA is to collect and analyze information that is important for the formation of U.S. policy in areas that affect the nation’s security. The CIA collects foreign intelligence, produces an objective all-source analysis, conducts action as directed by the president, and safeguards the secrets that protect the nation. The CIA’s areas of focus include:

  • Nuclear nonproliferation
  • Counterintelligence
  • Counterterrorism
  • Foreign organized crime
  • Arms control
  • Drug trafficking

The FBI, on the other hand, has a mission to protect and defend the U.S. against terrorist and foreign intelligence threats, to uphold and enforce criminal laws of the U.S., and to provide leadership and criminal justice services to municipal as well as international agencies and partners. The main priorities of the FBI include:

  • Protecting the U.S. from terrorist attacks
  • Protecting the U.S. against foreign intelligence operations and espionage
  • Combatting public corruption
  • Protecting the U.S. against cyber attacks and high technology crimes
  • Protecting civil rights
  • Combatting major acts of violent crime
  • Supporting federal, state, county, municipal, and international partners
  • Combatting major acts of white-collar crime
  • Upgrading technology in order to keep up with the FBI’s mission

What Crimes Do the FBI Investigate?

Security threats are the top priority of the FBI, but the FBI also plays a role in combatting violent crime in big cities and local areas throughout the U.S. They focus on crimes that pose threats to American society, like mass killings, sniper murders, and serial killings. Other areas that the jurisdiction of the FBI extends to include:

  • Embezzlement
  • Money laundering
  • Organized crime (including extortion and racketeering)
  • Piracy
  • Hijacking
  • Sabotage
  • Sedition
  • Terrorism (including ecoterrorism)
  • Treason
  • Counterintelligence

Most individuals who are under federal investigation by the FBI find out about it when law enforcement knocks on their door and asks to talk to them. Another possible way to find out this information would be if police execute a search warrant at their house or place of business. Lastly, another possibility would be a target letter in which a federal prosecutor sends a letter to the individual letting them know they are a target. At this point, the individual under investigation will be able to talk to the prosecutor and agent about the situation.

At The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch, our criminal defense team is experienced in handling all areas of federal crimes. Each federal crime carries its own penalties, especially if there are special circumstances involved. No matter what you might be under investigation for, The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch is prepared to present your case in a favorable light and help you avoid conviction.

To learn more about federal crime defense services at The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch, call us at (559) 484-2112 or contact us online.

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