of International Crime: 1980's
1978, Director Kelley resigned and was replaced by
former federal Judge William H. Webster (pictured
left). At the time of his appointment, Webster was
serving as Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for
the Eighth Circuit. He had previously been a Judge
of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District
of Missouri. Also in 1978, the FBI began using laser
technology in the Identification Division to detect
latent crime scene fingerprints.
1982, following an explosion of terrorist incidents
worldwide, Webster made counterterrorism a fourth
national priority. He also expanded FBI efforts in
the three others: foreign counterintelligence, organized
crime, and white-collar crime. Part of this expansion
was the creation of the National Center for the Analysis
of Violent Crime.
FBI solved so many espionage cases during the mid-1980s
that the press dubbed 1985 "the year of the spy." The
most serious espionage damage uncovered by the FBI
was perpetrated by the John Walker spy ring and by
former National Security Agency employee William
the 1980s, the illegal drug trade severely challenged
the resources of American law enforcement. To ease
this challenge, in 1982 the Attorney General gave
the FBI concurrent jurisdiction with the Drug Enforcement
Administration (DEA) over narcotics violations in
the United States. The expanded Department of Justice
attention to drug crimes resulted in the confiscation
of millions of dollars in controlled substances,
the arrests of major narcotics figures, and the dismantling
of important drug rings. One of the most publicized,
dubbed "the Pizza Connection" case, involved
the heroin trade in the United States and Italy.
It resulted in 18 convictions, including a former
leader of the Sicilian Mafia. Then Assistant U.S.
Attorney Louis J. Freeh, who was to be appointed
FBI Director in 1993, was key to prosecutive successes
in the case.
another front, Webster strengthened the FBI's response
to white-collar crimes. Public corruption was attacked
nationwide. Convictions resulting from FBI investigations
included members of Congress (ABSCAM), the judiciary
(GREYLORD), and state legislatures in California
and South Carolina. A major investigation culminating
in 1988 unveiled corruption in defense procurement
the United States faced a financial crisis in the
failures of savings and loan associations during
the 1980s, the FBI uncovered instances of fraud that
lay behind many of those failures. It was perhaps
the single largest investigative effort undertaken
by the FBI to that date: from investigating 10 bank
failures in 1981, it had 282 bank failures under
investigation by February 1987. Resources to investigate
fraud during the savings and loan crisis were provided
by the Financial Institution Reform, Recovery and
1984, the FBI acted as lead agency for security of
the Los Angeles Olympics. In the course of its efforts
to anticipate and prepare for acts of terrorism and
street crime, it built
important bridges of interaction and cooperation
with local, state, and other federal agencies, as
well as agencies of other countries. It also unveiled
the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team (pictured left) as
a domestic force capable of responding to complex
hostage situations such as tragically occurred in
Munich at the 1972 games.
as a result of the Bureau's emphasis on combatting
terrorism, such acts within the United States decreased
dramatically during the 1980s. In 1986, Congress
had expanded FBI jurisdiction to cover terrorist
acts against U.S. citizens outside the U.S. boundaries.
Later, in 1989, the Department of Justice authorized
the FBI to arrest terrorists, drug traffickers, and
other fugitives abroad without the consent of the
foreign country in which they resided.
were not limited to "established" crime
areas like terrorism and violent crime. In 1984,
the FBI established the Computer Analysis and Response
Team (CART) to retrieve evidence from computers.
CART would become fully operational in 1991.
May 26, 1987, Judge Webster left the FBI to become
Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Executive
Assistant Director John E. Otto became Acting Director
and served in that position until November 2, 1987.
During his tenure, Acting Director Otto designated
drug investigations as the FBI's fifth national priority.
November 2, 1987, former federal Judge William Steele
Sessions was sworn in as FBI Director. Prior to his
appointment as FBI Director, Sessions served as the
Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western
District of Texas. He had previously served as a
District Judge and as U.S. Attorney for that district.
Director Sessions, crime prevention efforts, in place
since Director Kelley's tenure, were expanded to
include a drug demand reduction program. FBI offices
nationwide began working closely with local school
and civic groups to educate young people to the dangers
of drugs. Subsequent nationwide community outreach
efforts under that program evolved and expanded through
such initiatives as the Adopt-A-School/Junior G-Man
Program. The expansion in initiatives required a
larger workforce and by 1988, the FBI employed 9663
Special Agents and 13651 Support Employees in 58
Field Offices and 15 Legal Attaches.