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FBI History
History of the FBI

Aftermath of Watergate: 1970's

Three days after Director Kelley's appointment, top aides in the Nixon Administration resigned amid charges of White House efforts to obstruct justice in the Watergate case. Vice President Spiro T. Agnew resigned in October, following charges of tax evasion. Then, following impeachment hearings that were broadcast over television to the American public throughout 1974, President Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974. Vice President Gerald R. Ford was sworn in as President that same day. In granting an unconditional pardon to ex-President Nixon one month later, he vowed to heal the nation.

Director Kelley similarly sought to restore public trust in the FBI and in law enforcement. He instituted numerous policy changes that targeted the training and selection of FBI and law enforcement leaders, the procedures of investigative intelligence collection, and the prioritizing of criminal programs. All of this was done while continuing open investigations. One such case was the Patty Hearst kidnapping investigation.

In 1974, Kelley instituted Career Review Boards and programs to identify and train potential managers. For upper management of the entire law enforcement community, the FBI, in cooperation with the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Major Cities Chief Administrators, started the National Executive Institute, which provided high-level executive training and encouraged future operational cooperation.

Kelley also responded to scrutiny by Congress and the media on whether FBI methods of collecting intelligence in domestic security and counterintelligence investigations abridged Constitutional rights.

The FBI had traditionally used its own criteria for intelligence collection, based on executive orders and blanket authority granted by attorney generals. After congressional hearings, Attorney General Edward Levi established finely detailed guidelines for the first time. The guidelines for FBI foreign counterintelligence investigations went into effect on March 10, 1976, and for domestic security investigations on April 5, 1976 (The latter were superseded March 21, 1983).

Kelley's most significant management innovation, however, was implementing the concept of "Quality over Quantity" investigations. He directed each field office to set priorities based on the types of cases most important in its territory and to concentrate resources on those priority matters. Strengthening the "Quality over Quantity" concept, the FBI as a whole established three national priorities: foreign counterintelligence, organized crime, and white-collar crime. To handle the last priority, the Bureau intensified its recruitment of accountants. It also stepped up its use of undercover operations in major cases.

During Kelley's tenure as Director, the FBI made a strong effort to develop an Agent force with more women and one that was more reflective of the ethnic composition of the United States. By the late 1970s nearly 8,000 Special Agents and 11,000 Support Employees worked in 59 Field Offices and 13 Legal Attache offices.

Directors Then and Now
Photographs and biographies of FBI Directors since 1908
History of the FBI
Detailed description from 1908 to the present
- Origins:
- Early Days:
- Lawless Years:
- The New Deal:
    1933-Late 1930's
- World War II Period:
- Postwar America:
- Vietnam War Era:
Aftermath of Watergate:
- Rise of International    Crime: 1980's
- End of the Cold War:
- Rise of a Wired World:
- Change of Mandate:
- Text Only Version  
FBI Headquarters
The J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building from start to finish

Freedom of Information Act
Thousands of pages of frequently requested historical records

Historic Dates
Timeline of important events in FBI history

Hall of Honor
In honor of FBI Agents killed in the line of duty

Famous Cases
Including gangsters, spies, and Top Tenners
Heraldry of the FBI Seal
The significance of each symbol and color of the FBI seal