FBI: New Look, New Mission

Seattle Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander (37) tries to break away from Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu during the first quarter of the Super Bowl XL football game, Sunday, Feb. 5, 2006, in Detroit. AP

A new top-secret command center is just the latest innovation in a series of changes that are transforming the FBI and earning it a renowned reputation in international crime investigation. CBS News Correspondent Jim Stewart reports.

The new command center is a $20 million, 40,000-square-foot, fully integrated, bomb resistant complex with room for 450 agents to simultaneously coordinate five international crises or seven in a real pinch.

The fact that the bureau has even built such a monument to global technology says a lot about how its changed over its 90-year history. Simply put, this is not the FBI we knew only a few years ago. It has now grown - indisputably - into the closest thing the world has to an international police force.

Consider that J. Edgar Hoover once only needed a handful of pins to locate his agents. In the last 10 years the number of overseas bureaus alone has tripled to 32 with another due to open soon in Beijing.

FBI agents are helping Georgian police solve an assassination attempt against President Eduard Shevardnadze. They're tailing Russian mob bosses in Moscow.

And when the President of Hungary recently visited Washington his first stop wasn't the White House but FBI headquarters, where Director Louie Freeh promised to send help.

"We've done it traditionally with partners in many countries - France, England, Australia. We've worked criminal investigations with police officers in the People's Republic of China," says Freeh.

Part of the reason for this is that police everywhere now realize that crime has gone global and want the help but it's also because the FBI clearly wants other cops to do things the way they do. Which is exactly how they teach it at the new FBI Academy in Budapest.

"And to see the 680 graduates who have now completed the 8-week course is a great achievement," says Freeh.

"It's an honor. FBI has been - the name is a legend to us, to law enforcement agencies around the world," says Raul Bargamento of the Manilla police.

If you train the FBI way you investigate their way as well. Recently the FBI convinced virtually every nation on earth to accept its fingerprint standards.

But is the world ready for the FBI wonders Jim Dempsey, who studies the bureau and worries about the potential of human rights abuses by cops who studied under the FBI.

The FBI is going into countries and saying, "start getting into electronic surveillance and yet the country does not have an independent judiciary," says Dempsey.

But ready or not here they come, the top cops of the world, with more than a few little problems still left to solve back here at home.

Reported By Jim Stewart
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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