Amazing Kids! Magazine

United States Agencies for Protection and Security

By Ryan Traynor, Assistant Editor


Watching several spy thrillers and mysteries, you may sometimes get a glimpse into the various agencies in the United States that are set up to protect the citizens. However, many times television shows and movies will distort the actual duties or highlight just the glamourous aspects of the job. Some of these movies and television shows are the Bourne Identity, James Bond series, Clear and Present Danger, Covert Affairs, White Collar, The Fugitive, and Salt. Let’s go over the different missions of the agencies to clear up what their areas of control cover.

The FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation)

According to the FBI website, the mission of the FBI is to protect and defend the United States against terrorist and foreign intelligence threats, 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. In simpler terms, the FBI focuses on threats that are too large or complex for local or state authorities to handle. The FBI focuses primarily on domestic federal crime. The FBI is both a national security and law enforcement agency so it collects information, turns it into useful information, and acts on it to protect the nation and to bring the violators of laws to justice. It’s priorities include to:

  1. Protect the United States from terrorist attacks – international and domestic terrorism, weapons of mass destruction.
  2. Protect the United States against foreign intelligence operations and espionage including economic espionage.
  3. Protect the United States against cyber-based attacks and high-technology crime.
  4. Combat public corruption at all levels – election fraud, foreign corrupt practices, and government fraud.
  5. Protect civil rights – hate crimes, human trafficking, freedom of access to clinics, color of law.
  6. Combat transnational/national criminal organizations and enterprises – Italian Mafia/LCN, Eurasian, Balkan, Middle Eastern, Asian, African, Sports Bribery.
  7. Combat major white-collar crime. Just in the last few months they have handled cases that included a telemarketing scheme that targeted elderly Americans, a wine dealer selling counterfeit wine, a former CEO conducting a fraud scheme, a con man that bilked dozens of medical professionals out of millions, international operations involving counterfeit goods, health care fraud, banks violating international sanctions, falsified test data on military equipment, student aid fraud, human trafficking, sports bribery, and an identity theft and credit card scheme.
  8. Combat significant violent crime including art theft, organized retail theft, copper theft, bank robbery, kidnapping, murder for hire, gang violence, 10 most wanted fugitives, crimes against children, and serial killings.
  9. Support federal, state, local and international partners.
  10. Upgrade technology to successfully perform the FBI’s mission – collection, analysis, and dissemination capabilities to protect the civil liberties of all Americans.

The CIA (Central Intelligence Agency)

According to the CIA website, the mission of the CIA is to preempt threats and further US national security objectives by collecting intelligence that matters, producing objective all-source analysis, conducting effective covert action as directed by the President, and safeguarding the secrets that help keep our Nation safe. Their main focus is external threats to the US. Their main duties include collecting and analyzing information on the countries, non-state actors, and issues most critical to the President and senior national security team and presenting them to them in a timely manner. To do this they must:

  1. Plan and Direct – list what they know about an issue and what they need to find out and how.
  2. Collect Information – collect information overtly (openly) and covertly (secretly) by reading foreign newspapers and magazine articles, listening to foreign radio, and watching overseas television broadcasts are examples of “overt” (or open) sources. Other information sources can be “covert” (or secret), such as information collected with listening devices, hidden cameras, and even satellite photography.
  3. Process Gathered Information – analyze gathered information and put it into an intelligence report to the right person.

The CIA gives accurate and timely intelligence on foreign threats to the United States’ security. They also conduct counterintelligence or other special activities relating to foreign intelligence and national security when the president asks. This may include preventing opponents from obtaining secret information or spreading disinformation. They also use their technological expertise in their collection, analysis, covert action, and counterintelligence activities and also protect against technological threats to the security of the country.

The DHS (Department of Homeland Security)

According to the DHS website, the mission of the Department of Homeland Security is to provide a safer, more secure America, which is resilient against terrorism and other potential threats. Their focus is mainly on border control, disaster recovery, and terrorist threats within the US. Their priorities include:

  1. Prevent terrorism
  2. Enhance security
  3. Manage the country’s borders by using technology, manpower and physical infrastructure.
  4. Administering immigration laws including facilitating legal immigration and enforcing immigration laws. This also supports legal employment.
  5. Securing cyberspace – works with industry and all levels of government to secure critical infrastructure and information systems. Analyzes and reduces threats and distributes warnings.
  6. Ensuring disaster resilience – coordinates responses to terrorist attacks, natural disasters or other large emergencies while working with public and private sector partners.

The Department of Homeland Security is the organization that unified numerous other departments that were rolled into it in 1991 into a common mission including:

  • United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS),
  • United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) which has a responsibility for securing and facilitating trade and travel while enforcing hundreds of U.S. regulations, including immigration and drug laws,
  • United States Coast Guard (USCG) which protects the maritime economy and the environment, defends our maritime borders, and saves those in peril,
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) which helps the nation prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards,
  • Federal Law Enforcement Training Center provides training to law enforcement professionals,
  • United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) promotes homeland security and public safety through the criminal and civil enforcement of federal laws governing border control, customs, trade, and immigration,
  • Transportation Security Administration (TSA) protects the nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce,
  • United States Secret Service (USSS) safeguards the nation’s financial infrastructure and payment systems to preserve the integrity of the economy, and protects national leaders, visiting heads of state and government, designated sites, and National Special Security Events,
  • Management Directorate is responsible for Department budgets and appropriations, expenditure of funds, accounting and finance, procurement; human resources, information technology systems, facilities and equipment, and the identification and tracking of performance measurements,
  • National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) works to advance the Department’s risk-reduction mission that includes both physical and virtual threats,
  • Science and Technology Directorate is the primary research and development arm of the Department,
  • Domestic Nuclear Detection Office works to enhance the nuclear detection efforts of federal, state, territorial, tribal, and local governments, and the private sector and to ensure a coordinated response to such threats,
  • Office of Health Affairs coordinates all medical activities of the Department of Homeland Security to ensure appropriate preparation for and response to incidents having medical significance,
  • Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) is responsible for using information and intelligence from multiple sources to identify and assess current and future threats to the United States,
  • Office of Operations Coordination and Planning is responsible for monitoring the security of the United States on a daily basis and coordinating activities within the Department and with governors,
  • Homeland Security Advisors, law enforcement partners, and critical infrastructure operators in all 50 states and more than 50 major urban areas nationwide, and the
  • Office of Policy which is the primary policy formulation and coordination component for the Department of Homeland Security,

The NSA (National Security Agency)

According to the NSA website, the National Security Agency and Central Security Service are the “codemaker and codebreakers” of the intelligence community, providing foreign signal and communications intelligence to decision makers.

The U.S. Marshals Service

According to the U.S. Marshals Service website, the mission of this agency is to protect and support the United States Federal courts by making the individuals conducting judicial business safe and able to perform their duties fairly.

The federal judicial process has procedures that deputy marshals must follow. For example, a court official gives warrants (written orders) directing deputy marshals to:

  • search (a place)
  • seize (take possession)
  • arrest (hold a person for court)
  • execute a judgment (deliver a court’s final decision)

Deputy marshals also:

  • Keep safe all places where federal judicial business is conducted
  • protect judges, jurors, witnesses and other persons whose safety may be threatened because of their duties
  • safely move prisoners to and from court, make sure they are fed, receive medical treatment and are confined in jail.

It is amazing how many agencies are needed to protect citizens in the United States but as you can see here, their missions are important. It is due to these individuals that the citizens feel free to carry on their daily activities and to exercise their liberties. Other countries have agencies similar to these. For instance, in the United Kingdom, there is the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism which protects against terrorist threats. In Italy a Committee for Financial Security at the Ministry of Economic and Financial Affairs was established to help fight terrorism. Hopefully by outlining the United States’ structure to protect and secure the country, you will be able to more fully understand other country’s structures as well when you read about them.