Limitations in the Powers of the FBI

In the United States, the FBI is the premier federal law enforcement agency. The FBI is a security agency that is frequently shrouded in secrecy. Internationally, the CIA is regarded as the greatest American security institution, with boundless powers and skills. Nonetheless, the FBI is not omnipotent as most people believe, and the agency is accountable to other agencies within the United States government, including the judiciary and executive branches.

Also, the FBI does not operate with impunity. Is often a universal misconception that the FBI organization and the agents have unrestricted mandate hence operate above the law. Conversely, any single thing that is carried out by the FBI is always authorized and has to be monitored with other several government security organizations which are formed to make sure that such operations are conducted as the law dictates. For example, the Senate Selection Committee on Intelligence and House Permanent Selection Committee must oversee all the functions and activities carried out by the FBI agents.

The FBI's cybersecurity intelligence and facilities are not sufficient to manage the increasing complexities of national security; this has made it challenging to establish surveillance on potential terror activities. Lack of collaboration with security intelligence agencies in the private sector as explained by Renan (2015) is another contributing factor that has limited the FBI to monitor terrorist activities and arising threats to public safety. The slow pace at which the FBI has taken to transform since the 9/11 attack is reason improvements in cyber intelligence is inhibited. Constitutional provisions on human rights and freedoms limit the extent to which the FBI can exercise their power against American citizens. In as much as there are laws which contradict with these provisions, there are specific privacy issues that still limit the FBI powers (Suarez, 2017).

The FBI's Capacity to Achieve Its Mission

The FBI mission in explicitly stated; however specific issues limit the performance of outlined tasks. Some of the FBI roles overlap with those of other intelligence agencies which results in wastage of resources. Following the 9/11 attack, the FBI adopted new measures some of which have been implemented successfully while others have proven challenging. These challenges limit the FBI's capabilities in combating terrorism. With each new leadership comes new measures, constant changes in structure and organization of the FBI has slowed the pace at which new strategies for improvement are implemented. The FBI needs to focus more on technology and conduct serious training, especially in cybersecurity.

The Patriot Act

The USA Patriot Act of 2011 is one of the measures that was implemented to strengthen existing security controls and prevent terror attacks after the 9/11 attack (Sunya, 2009). The act made certain provisions aimed at improving communication and coordination of efforts by various intelligence agencies in preventing terrorism. The statute authorizes the FBI and other intelligence agencies to obtain search warrants by merely claiming records. Although this authority makes the gathering of intelligence about potential threats faster, there are concerns regarding freedom of speech and privacy. Those served with search warrants are prohibited from disclosing the events that occur afterward. The act also authorizes law enforcement agencies to increase surveillance on the activities of the public which infringes on their privacy.

The Department of Homeland and Sub Agencies

The department of homeland security is a department of the federal government established after the 9/11 terror attack to prevent domestic disaster and respond to emergencies. The agency is responsible for public safety which entails; disaster prevention, cybersecurity, immigration and customs and anti-terrorism (Burke & McNeil, 2016). The department functions are divided into the following agencies;

Immigration and Customs Enforcement: this agency operates under two bureaus, one enforces laws and investigates the threat of criminal activities at both domestic and international levels. The other bureau investigates violations relating to the Immigration and Nationality Act

Citizenship and Immigration Services: examines citizenship and residency. Also in charge of processing asylum and citizenship request.

Customs and Border Protection: responsible for enforcing laws relating to agriculture, immigration and customs along the United States borders.

Transportation Security Administration: responsible for airport, water, and land transportation security. Also, conducts security checks for both domestic and international travels in the US.

United States Coast Guard: responsible for maritime security and enforcement of laws relating to mobility and natural resource protection.

The United States Secret Service: this agency conducts investigations following potential threats in addition to providing security detail for government officials.

Federal Emergency Management Agency: oversee the government's response to the disaster caused by natural factors.


The procedure upon which the FBI and other agencies can obtain search warrants is not based upon any evidence which means that criminals who manage to impersonate intelligence agents can get access to information to facilitate their illegal activities. Public security agencies in the United States are still struggling with cyber intelligence due to lack of collaboration between the public and private sectors. According to Powers (2013), this provides an opportunity for tech-savvy criminals to launch attacks.


Burke, R., & McNeil, S. (2016). Investigating the Benefits and Drawbacks of Realigning the National Guard Under the Department of Homeland Security. Army War College-Strategic Studies Institute Carlisle United States.

Kashan, S. (2010). The USA Patriot Act: Impact on freedoms and civil liberties. Essai, 7(1), 28.

Powers, S. (2013). The Threat Of Cyberterrorism To Critical Infrastructure.

Renan, D. (2015). Pooling Powers.

Suarez, S. (2017). Is America Safer? The USA FREEDOM Act of 2015 and What the FBI and NSA Have, Can, and Should be Doing.

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