- Fact sheet altered in the summer of last year, says national security lawyer
- Change reflects reforms over last ten years, but analysts baffled by timing
- Came months after FBI was criticised for failing to foil Boston bombings
- One observer says rebranding could bring agency more power and funding
UPDATED: 08:47 EST, 6 January 2014
It’s no secret the FBI has steadily shifted its focus towards counter-terrorism since 9/11.
But now the agency appears to have finally made its new priority official by quietly updating its mission statement.
The bureau’s fact sheet has now replaced its decades-long ‘primary function’ of ‘law enforcement’ with ‘national security’ to reflect reforms that have taken place over the last 12 years.
The timing of the change, apparently made last summer, has prompted speculation by analysts that it has been influenced by the political climate.
Now in black and white: The FBI has changed its fact sheet to replace its primary function of ‘law enforcement’ with ‘national security’ to finally reflect reforms made since the September 11 attacks
FBI historian and Marquette University professor Athan Theoharis pointed to the negative publicity the agency received after failing to prevent the Boston marathon bombings in April last year.
Meanwhile, Washington-based national security lawyer Kel McClanahan, who noticed the altered fact sheet last month, said the rebranding could bring the agency more power and money.
He told Foreign Policy: ‘If you tie yourself to national security, you get funding and you get exemptions on disclosure cases.
‘You get all the wonderful arguments about how if you don’t get your way, buildings will blow up and the country will be less safe.’
Political decision? One observer pointed out that the change comes after the negative publicity the agency had received for failing to prevent the Boston marathon bombings (above) in April last year
McClanahan spotted the change in a Freedom of Information Act response from the agency, each of which is accompanied by the fact sheet.
Between 2001 and 2009, the FBI has doubled the number of agents dedicated to counter-terrorism, according to a Inspector General report.
Conversely, that period has seen a decline in the number of criminal cases investigated nationally, particularly white-collar crimes.
Times of change: The FBI’s headquarters in Washington DC. The bureau has doubled the number of agents dedicated to counter-terrorism, leading to accusations that other law-enforcement areas are suffering
The changes last month prompted criticism from Robert Holley, the special agent in charge in Chicago, who said he was being hampered in his efforts to combat violent crime that is rife in the city.
FBI spokesman Paul Bresson declined to comment on the timing of the change.
But he told Foreign Policy: ‘When our mission changed after 9/11, our fact sheet changed to reflect that… so it is certainly accurate to say our primary function is national security.
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