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The Threat

How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump

By Andrew G. McCabe
12-minute read
Audio available
The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump by Andrew G. McCabe

The Threat (2019) offers an inside look at America’s famous nation-wide law enforcement agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation or FBI. Written with the lucid precision you’d expect from a high-ranking former FBI official, this book depicts the organization’s inner workings, details the methods it uses to protect the public, and explains why terrorism and President Donald Trump are currently the nation’s biggest threats.

  • Law-enforcement buffs wondering how the FBI operates
  • Concerned Americans curious about how the organization protects them
  • Law-abiding citizens seeking to understand the FBI’s biggest challenges today

Andrew G. McCabe spent over two decades of his law-enforcement career working for the FBI. Initially working as a street agent investigating Eurasian organized crime, McCabe transferred to counterterrorism after September 11 and then continued to rise up the ranks. He served as deputy director – the FBI’s second-highest position – for two years and is now retired.

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The Threat

How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump

By Andrew G. McCabe
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 7 key ideas
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The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump by Andrew G. McCabe
Synopsis

The Threat (2019) offers an inside look at America’s famous nation-wide law enforcement agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation or FBI. Written with the lucid precision you’d expect from a high-ranking former FBI official, this book depicts the organization’s inner workings, details the methods it uses to protect the public, and explains why terrorism and President Donald Trump are currently the nation’s biggest threats.

Key idea 1 of 7

The FBI has changed dramatically since 9/11.

Even though almost two decades have passed, most people vividly remember September 11, 2001. When New York’s Twin Towers collapsed after being struck by hijacked aircraft, everybody watching knew this was a momentous event. Even so, few could’ve predicted just how radically it would alter American society and the wider world.

One organization, in particular, changed irreversibly and almost overnight: The Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI – the US federal law enforcement agency.

To be clear, the FBI has always investigated terrorist threats. The Counterterrorism Division and its criminal and counterintelligence equivalents have long been the Bureau’s three main branches. The agency mainly concentrated on high-level criminal activity, however, like organized crime and drug trafficking.

This is still a crucial function of the FBI, but 9/11 completely changed the rules of the game and the Bureau shifted its central focus to protecting American citizens by preventing acts of terrorism.

Overnight, counterterrorism operations took precedence, and funding and human resources for the division responsible grew quickly.

This meant, among other things, a growth in the number of units within the Counterterrorism Division. Before September 11 there were only two within the Counterterrorism Division – an Osama bin Laden Unit and a Radical Fundamentalist Unit. After September 11, dozens of counterterrorism units were created, including those dedicated to the financing of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. But these changes went further than simple resource allocation or restructuring: 9/11 transformed the Bureau’s internal culture.

Before the attacks, the FBI was riddled with division along both departmental and interpersonal lines. There was a fierce rivalry between the criminal and counterterrorism divisions, for example, with each believing they did the “real” work. And the FBI employs over 30,000 people, which requires a diverse range of skills, from bulky strongmen who excel in hand-to-hand combat to computer science experts working on cybersecurity. Often, those with different specializations couldn’t find common ground.

Again, 9/11 changed this. The day after the attacks, it was like a gust of air had blown through the stuffy corridors of the FBI’s Washington headquarters. There was a new sense of unity – everyone there was FBI, and everyone was in it together. The attacks were a watershed moment: The Bureau would never be the same again, and neither would its methods.

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