The mission of the FBI’s Legal Attaché Program is to establish and maintain liaison with principal law enforcement and intelligence/security services in designated foreign countries. This liaison enables the FBI to effectively and expeditiously meet its international responsibilities in organized crime, international terrorism, foreign counterintelligence, and general criminal matters.
In addition to the office in Tunis and its field offices across the U.S., the FBI has 61 offices known as Legal Attachés or “Legats” located around the world. These offices are manned by Legal Attaches and Assistant Legal Attaches. Legats are our first line of defense beyond our borders. Their goals are simple-to stop foreign crime as far from American shores as possible and to help solve international crimes that do occur as quickly as possible.
To accomplish these goals, each Legat works with law enforcement and security agencies in their host country to coordinate investigations of interest to both countries. Some Legats are responsible for coordination with law enforcement personnel in several countries. The purpose of these Legats is strictly coordination, cooperation and liaison; they do not conduct foreign intelligence gathering or counterintelligence investigations. The rules for joint activities and information-sharing are generally spelled out in formal agreements between the United States and the Legat’s host country. The entire worldwide Legat program is overseen by a Special Agent in Charge located at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C.