Without any fanfare, the FBI has changed its own mission. Where before, the FBI focused its efforts primarily on interstate law enforcement, activities such as the robbing of banks, white-collar crime, and kidnapping, now the FBI states that its primary mission is national security. Specifically, the FBI focuses on counterterrorism, counter intelligence (finding and eliminating spies), and cyber security. The shift apparently happened sometime in the summer of 2013, without fanfare, and possibly without direction from either the president or the attorney general. It is possible that the reason for the shift was bureaucratic and funding-related, rather than reflective of any sudden change in direction by the FBI’s internal leaders. That is to say, Congress might be more amenable to making a larger appropriation to the FBI if it can classify that appropriation as related to national security rather than law enforcement. Or, maybe, this is an accurate reflection of what the FBI is actually doing with its resources.
Either way, it seems ominous.
Burt Likko is the pseudonym of an attorney in Southern California. His interests include Constitutional law with a special interest in law relating to the concept of separation of church and state, cooking, good wine, and bad science fiction movies. Follow his sporadic Tweets at @burtlikko, and his Flipboard at Burt Likko.