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The FBI drops 'law enforcement' from its mission statement

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fbi building logo cliff flickr
fbi building logo cliff flickr

The Federal Bureau of Investigation may have bigger things to worry about than law enforcement. Foreign Policy is reporting a change in the bureau's latest fact sheet, in which the agency's primary mission has changed from "law enforcement" to "national security." It's in keeping with the bureau's post-9/11 duties as the nation's primary domestic counterterrorism agency, but the timing has many FBI-watchers scratching their heads. What's changed in the last year to make the bureau shift away from law enforcement?

The bureau has long been part of the National Security wing of the government, as distinct from purely civilian agencies like the Department of Agriculture, but its primary purpose was always seen as one of enforcing the laws of the nation. The new mission statement depicts the bureau as something larger than that, securing against a broad range of threats to the nation. Still, according to FBI spokesman Paul Bresson, it's a restatement of where the bureau's priorities have been for a long time. "We rank our top 10 priorities and CT [counterterrorism] is first, counterintel is second, cyber is third," Bresson told Foreign Policy. "So it is certainly accurate to say our primary function is national security."