The Federal Bureau of Investigation, most recently in the news because of its role in the deadly assault on the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Tex., is the main investigative arm of the Department of Justice and has investigative jurisdiction over violations in more than 200 categories of crimes. In the case of Waco, the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team was involved. The bureau also conducts background security checks on nominees to federal offices, and, if ordered by the president, investigates potential threats to national security. The FBI also provides other law enforcement agencies with fingerprint identification and crime laboratory resources, as well as police training.


1908: Attorney General Charles J. Bonaparte ordered the Justice Department's enforcement group, then called the Special Agent force, to report to Stanley W. Finch, planting the seed that would become the FBI.

1909: The agency was dubbed the Bureau of Investigation (BOI).

The BOI saw its most active service fighting organized crime during the Prohibition era of the 1920s.

1935: An act of Congress changed the name of the agency to the FBI.

J. Edgar Hoover defined the institution during his tenure. He joined the BOI in 1917 and in 1919 was chosen to head its General Intelligence Division, which investigated revolutionary and radical movements.

Cash and manpower:

$3 billion in total funding

11,600 special agents

16,400 other employees

10,000 employees are assigned to headquarters

18,000 in field operations

Besides its Washington headquarters, the FBI has:

56 field offices in the United States and Puerto Rico.

400 smaller satellite offices known as "resident agencies."

4 specialized field installations.

34 foreign liason posts, which work with foreign authorities on criminal matters .


Stanley W. Finch (1909 - 1912)

A. Bruce Bielaski (1912 - 1919

William E. Allen - Acting - (1919)

William E. Flynn (1919 - 1921)

William J. Burns (1921 - 1924)

J. Edgar Hoover (1924 - 1972)

L. Patrick Gray - Acting - (1972)

William Ruckelshaus (1972-73)

Clarence Kelley (1973-78)

William H. Webster (1978-87)

John E. Otto - Acting - (1987)

William S. Sessions (1987-1993)

Floyd I. Clarke - Acting - (1993)

Louis J. Freeh (1993-)

* Until 1919, the director was known as chief.