The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Foreign Intelligence Collection


Foreign intelligence is present both abroad and domestically. While multiple elements of the U.S. intelligence community (IC) focus on collecting foreign intelligence—in all its forms—outside the U.S., the setup of the IC does not neatly address how to exploit foreign intelligence in the domestic setting. This is a significant failing, since the U.S. has a home-field advantage for collecting data that can provide U.S. decision-makers with a unique informational advantage. The FBI is positioned to address this deficiency. To do so effectively, however, it must come to terms with two internal, competing narratives about its intelligence role, both of which are deeply entrenched in the bureau’s history.

The concept of “foreign intelligence” is subject to multiple interpretations. As defined in the original version of Executive Order 12333, foreign intelligence is

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