What is the difference between the CIA and FBI?

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are both intelligence and law enforcement agencies of the United States government, but they have different mandates, responsibilities, and areas of focus.

What is the FBI?

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the primary intelligence and law enforcement agency of the United States federal government. The FBI is responsible for investigating and combating a wide range of crimes and national security threats, including:

  • Terrorism: The FBI is the lead agency responsible for investigating and preventing acts of terrorism both domestically and internationally.
  • Counterintelligence: The FBI is responsible for counterintelligence activities to identify and neutralize foreign intelligence threats to the US.
  • Cybercrime: The FBI investigates and combats a wide range of cybercrime, including computer hacking, cyber espionage, and cyber attacks on critical infrastructure.
  • White-collar crime: The FBI investigates financial crimes, including fraud, embezzlement, and corruption.
  • Organized crime: The FBI investigates organized crime syndicates involved in illegal activities such as money laundering, racketeering, and drug trafficking.
  • Criminal violations of civil rights: The FBI investigates violations of civil rights, including hate crimes, human trafficking, and police misconduct.

The FBI is headed by a Director who is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The FBI operates under the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice and provides support and assistance to other law enforcement agencies as needed.

What does the CIA do? 

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is the primary intelligence agency of the United States federal government. The CIA’s primary function is to collect, analyze, and disseminate foreign intelligence information to the President and other senior government officials in order to support national security decision-making. The CIA’s responsibilities include:

  • Intelligence collection: The CIA collects intelligence through a variety of means, including human intelligence (HUMINT), signals intelligence (SIGINT), and imagery intelligence (IMINT).
  • Analysis and dissemination of intelligence: The CIA is responsible for analyzing the intelligence it collects and providing insights and assessments to policymakers and other senior officials.
  • Covert operations: The CIA is authorized to carry out covert operations, such as recruiting foreign agents and conducting paramilitary operations, in support of US foreign policy objectives.
  • Counterintelligence: The CIA is responsible for identifying and neutralizing foreign intelligence threats to the US.
  • Counterterrorism: The CIA is responsible for collecting and analyzing intelligence related to international terrorist organizations and their activities.

The CIA is headed by a Director who is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The CIA operates independently of the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice, and its activities are subject to oversight by Congress and other agencies.

In summary, the CIA is focused on foreign intelligence and has a global reach, while the FBI is focused on domestic intelligence and law enforcement within the United States.