Difference between FBI and CIA

Key Difference: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is a government agency that works under the United States Department of Justice. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is an independent civilian intelligence agency of the United States that is responsible for providing intelligence regarding national security to the US policymakers.

FBI and CIA organizations have become popular world-wide because of the movies and shows that are based on them. The movies have created an allure about the secretive missions that are carried by these agencies that help protect the United States against threats that even the public is not aware of. Both of these agencies have the same objective, to protect the United States against threats, criminals and other illegal activities. However, they differ from each other in many ways.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is a government agency that works under the United States Department of Justice. They are responsible for protecting the citizens of United States nationwide. FBI serves as a federal criminal investigative body as well as internal intelligence agency. Its main purpose is to protect the United States internally against threats such as terrorism, criminal activities (murder, theft, rape, etc.), cyber criminal activities, etc. They are also responsible for digging up and recording information that is related to the security of the United States. The FBI was established in 1908 under name of Bureau of Investigation (BOI), which was then changed to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 1935. The headquarters of the agency is located in Washington D.C., with offices located all over the United States.

The FBI website states that the organization’s main goal is to “…to protect and defend the United States, to uphold and enforce the criminal laws of the United States, and to provide leadership and criminal justice services to federal, state, municipal, and international agencies and partners.” The FBI has nationwide jurisdiction and can operate legally in any part of the United States. The FBI is divided into areas such as National security; criminal, cyber, response, and services; human resources; science technology; and information technology. Following the September 11 attacks, the FBI was designated as the lead organization in terrorism investigations following the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FBI often works with government agencies to gather and share intelligence and capture criminals.

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is an independent civilian intelligence agency of the United States that is responsible for providing intelligence regarding national security to the US policymakers. They are responsible for gathering international intelligence against threats that can affect the United States. These are then forwarded on to the directors and the president, which plays an active role in creating international policies and treaties. The CIA is responsible for directly reporting to the Director of National Intelligence. CIA was originally established during the World War II in 1942 under the name of Office of Strategic Services (OSS) before being abolished. It was revived five years later in 1947 under the name Central Bureau of Investigation. The headquarters are located in Langley, Virginia.

The CIA has operatives and offices all over the world that carry out undercover espionage activities in order to uncover information that could harm the security of the United States. The CIA website defines its mission as, “the nation’s first line of defense.” It states that they carry out their mission by, “Collecting information that reveals the plans, intentions and capabilities of our adversaries and provides the basis for decision and action; Producing timely analysis that provides insight, warning and opportunity to the President and decisionmakers charged with protecting and advancing America’s interests; Conducting covert action at the direction of the President to preempt threats or achieve US policy objectives.” The work of CIA operatives heavily affects the foreign policies that are made between countries. In many cases, CIA operatives also work with other foreign intelligence agencies in order to uncover information that may be of benefit to both the countries.

As one can see there are number of differences among both the agencies. While FBI is responsible for maintaining the peace, stability and security of the United States internally, CIA tries to keep the international threat at bay. FBI also takes care of crimes and other illegal activities, while CIA is an active member of the foreign policies that happen between countries. CIA is also responsible for monitoring US criminals that have resided outside of the country or criminals that reside outside of the US and continue to create havoc inside the country. CIA also works with INTERPOL to facilitate international police cooperation. The FBI also actively partakes in the investigation, while the CBI sends undercover agents to try and discretely acquire information before a decision can be reached. FBI also collaborates with the CIA many times when CIA requires internal intelligence from them.




Acronym for

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Central Intelligence Agency


July 26, 1908

September 18, 1947


J. Edgar Hoover Building

Northwest, Washington, D.C.

George Bush Center for Intelligence, CIA HQ Langley, VA


Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity

"And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32)

Agency executive

Robert S. Mueller III, Director and Sean M. Joyce, Deputy Director. There are a number of detectives that are in charge.

Michael Morell, Acting CIA Director

Governing body

United States Department of Justice

Director of National Intelligence


FBI has a nation-wide jurisdiction. They look after affairs that happen all over the United States of America.

The CIA has jurisdiction worldwide. The CIA takes care of affairs that happen on international soil but are related to security of the US.

Clearance level

Second-highest clearance level after CIA

Highest clearance level




Image Courtesy: fbi.gov, thetimes.co.uk

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the alweys CIA and FBI is the difficulty work

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