Syracuse, N.Y.--August 28--FBI intelligence officers
almost quintupled in number during the Clinton years,
jumping from 224 in 1992 to 1,025 in 1999, according
to federal employment data obtained by the Transactional
Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC).
The actual duties of the intelligence officers are
not known. But the government's handbook on occupations
says that the FBI employees assigned to this category
are involved in the "collection, analysis, evaluation,
interpretation and dissemination of information on
political, economic, social, cultural, physical, geographic,
scientific or military conditions, trends and forces
in foreign and domestic areas which directly or indirectly
affect the national security."
[For more information about these and many other
findings about recent FBI enforcement activities--go
FBI Director Louis Freeh and the Clinton Administration
have made no secret about their belief that terrorists,
spies, computer hackers and other such threats represent
a growing danger to the United States. The highly
classified nature of the government's efforts in this
area, however, means that almost no public information
is available about the resources the agency devotes
to dealing with the problem.
The surge in the number of FBI intelligence officers
is not the only sign of the administration's increasing
concern. A second authoritative indication is the
steady growth in special judicial warrants for electronic
surveillance and physical break-ins obtained under
the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
These warrants--specifically restricted to combating
counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence activities
and mostly executed by the FBI--climbed from 484 in
1992 to 886 in 1999.
According to federal prosecutors, the apparent surge
in various kinds of FBI investigative activities aimed
at terrorists and spies is producing very few court
actions. In 1998, for example, only 45 of the FBI's
12,730 convictions involved what the department classified
as internal security or terrorism matters.
Partly because the FBI is reluctant to disclose
its counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism investigative
techniques, the agency often resists initiating cases
that necessarily would be tried in open courtrooms.
Experienced law enforcement officials say that this
concern is one reason why so few of the agency's investigations
ever result in formal charges.
Other new findings:
The Clinton years saw a major
increase in the FBI effort against illegal drugs.
From 1992 to 1998, for example, FBI drug convictions
increased from 1,925 to 3,253--a 69% jump. Expressed
another way, the proportion of all FBI convictions
categorized as involving drugs went from 18% to
The overall performance trends
of the FBI improved in several areas during the
last seven years. One example of this change involves
the percent of agency matters referred to U.S. Attorneys
that ultimately resulted in prosecution. In 1992,
41% of the agency's referrals were prosecuted. By
1998, this rate had increased to 49%.
The FBI in 1999 had more
special agents in relation to population than at
any time in its history. This result was achieved
because the total number of FBI employees increased
by 15% during the Clinton Administration. In striking
contrast, the total number of all federal civilian
employees declined by 18% during the same period.
The FBI declined an offer
to review TRAC's data findings prior to their posting.
(TRAC is a non-partisan data gathering,
research and data-distribution organization associated
with Syracuse University. TRAC has been supported
by the University, the Rockefeller Family Fund, the
New York Times Company Foundation, the John S. and
James L. Knight Foundation and many other organizations.
TRAC's embargo on the information about the FBI is
intended to give news organizations adequate time
to contact responsible government officials for their
comments. For detailed information go to