Christopher A. Wray
Federal Bureau of Investigation
McLean, Virginia
February 29, 2024

Director Wray's Remarks at the Intelligence and National Security Alliance Leadership Breakfast

Remarks as prepared for delivery

Good morning, and thanks for having me.

It’s great to be here with this group, because I appreciate the way INSA [the Intelligence and National Security Alliance] has—for years—brought together the public, private, and academic sectors of the intelligence and national security communities to find practical and creative solutions to national security challenges.

That work is more important now than ever, because—as this group knows all too well—there’s no shortage of those challenges out there. So, I look forward to the conversation with Sue [Gordon] in a few minutes about some of the specific challenges we’re facing and how we’re tackling those.

But, before we get into the discussion, I want to take just a few minutes to talk about what I see as the FBI’s unique and valuable role in our integrated Intelligence Community, the new strategy we’re rolling out for our intelligence program to maximize our contributions to the USIC [U.S. Intelligence Community], and—before I close—I also want to highlight one threat, in particular, that’s front of mind for all of us this year: election security. Because, when it comes to election security, intelligence professionals across the government have to make sure we’re all leveraging our very best intelligence to combat this threat together.

Director Outlines New Intelligence Program Strategy

FBI Director Christopher Wray today outlined the Bureau’s new intelligence program strategy and emphasized how partnerships, collaboration, and innovation are essential to combatting emerging national security threats.

FBI’s Dual Role 

For all 115 years of our existence, the FBI has had a dual and complementary mission: enforcing federal law and protecting national security. And, though it might have seemed novel back in 1908, that dual role, in some ways, is tailor-made for today’s challenges.

Our adversaries would like to exploit the gaps they perceive in the U.S. system between how we approach national security and criminal threats and how we share responsibility among the government, academic, and private sectors for defending critical technology, intellectual property, and critical infrastructure.

But all of us in this room know that a division of labor does not mean we’re divided. On the contrary, the fact that we’re all here together is a testament to our commitment to joint efforts. It does mean, though, that each of us—regardless of sector or agency—has to invest time to understand each other’s strengths, how to work with one another, how to share information with one another.

That’s why it’s so important to me that our partners understand what the FBI uniquely brings to the table, not because I’m tooting the FBI’s horn—though that does come with the job—but because partnerships and our ability to leverage all our strengths, together, is our greatest asset.

The FBI can bridge many of those gaps our enemies want to exploit thanks to our unique combination of law enforcement and intelligence authorities, our domestic and international presence, and our ability to directly engage with both the IC [Intelligence Community] and the private sector. And in this world of increasingly complex threats, we at the FBI are striving to use every legal tool at our disposal.

As a member of both the global law enforcement community, with Title 18 authorities, and the IC, with Title 50 authorities, we can focus our efforts in multiple directions and support a broad range of partners to collect intelligence and act on it. So, depending on the situation, we can use criminal legal process—things like subpoenas, search warrants, and wiretaps—or national security tools, like the critically important FISA 702. Our robust human-source programs facilitate our collection of human intelligence using confidential sources and undercover operations, and our law enforcement status puts us in a position to request evidence held overseas through our foreign partners.

As one of our senior executives likes to say, the FBI is like a Swiss Army knife: We have a tool for almost every occasion, and you want to have us in reach when you need us.

FBI Intel Program Strategy  

At a time when threats are more global and complex than ever before—but our resources are more limited—we have to make the best use of every capability I just described to be successful.

Put simply, we need to reduce our risk and maximize our advantage, and that’s why we recently released a new, five-year intelligence program strategy. That intel program strategy emphasizes three levers—technology, tradecraft, and training—to help us do just that.

The first, technology, is key to addressing a rapidly evolving environment where every adversary we face—whether they’re motivated by greed, harm, or global advantage—is using technology to make their efforts more impactful and less traceable and a deluge of data is overwhelming human capacity to process, exploit, assess, share, and act on it in a timely way.

In Sue’s day, ODNI [the Office of the Director of National Intelligence] was forward-thinking in identifying the need to augment our greatest resource—our human talent—with tools and technology to reduce the risk of missing important threat signals amid all the noise. Today, just one investigation of a cyber intrusion could bring in terabytes of data, and we have to be able to quickly distill that information so we can find the needles in an ever-growing haystack. We need to exploit data we’ve lawfully obtained and apply advanced tools and analytics to glean all the insight that data can give us, as fast as we can.

Part of how we’ll get there is by recruiting and developing an FBI cadre of dedicated data professionals, while also training our intelligence workforce to increase their data acumen and enhancing this talent with cutting-edge tools—including those developed by our IC and private industry partners. In fact, just recently, one of our FBI scientists patented a program that will potentially help us address threats posed by synthetic content, which I think all of us in the IC and in law enforcement are highly concerned about. We’re also deploying tools like photo recognition, obtained from outside vendors but honed at the Bureau, to better I.D. things like guns. Under our new intelligence program strategy, we’ll continue to innovate our way toward solutions like these.

The second lever is tradecraft, which is a term we apply to how we produce analysis and how we recruit and operate confidential human sources.

Both analytic and HUMINT [human intelligence] tradecraft are the means by which we ensure integrity, objectivity, and rigor in our intelligence work, because—as I tell our new analysts as they graduate—intelligence isn’t always clear cut. It doesn’t come with a label, and it’s often more of an art than a science.

We’re elevating the tradecraft we use to recruit and operate human sources securely, with a goal of training all special agents to a high level by the time they end their two-year probationary period. The goal is to equip them to balance the risks we have to mitigate with the risks we have to take to collect intelligence that will identify threats and keep Americans safe, and to prepare them to navigate the threat of ubiquitous data collection—what we at the FBI often refer to as ubiquitous technical surveillance, or UTS—to describe how our adversaries can exploit the digital trail we all leave behind. UTS poses a threat not only to our sources and operations, but also to FBI personnel themselves.

So the way we conduct our business—whether that’s making a procurement decision or proposing a joint source operation with a partner overseas—has to account for the tradecraft needed to protect our people and operations.

The FBI is recognized among the IC as an agency on the forefront of training and awareness on this issue, but this is one area where we need every IC agency’s capabilities and expertise to counter the threats, as well as productive partnerships with the private sector to develop tools that will help us secure our operations and our people.

It’s also critical that everyone in the FBI who writes and reviews analysis applies a consistently high level of analytic tradecraft—no matter what program they work, or what job role they have. That’s all the more important today, when disinformation and distrust cloud the environment in which intelligence is collected, analyzed, and received. So, we’ve got to be sure the tradecraft we use in our analysis is beyond reproach. In the words of Linda Weissgold, it’s tradecraft and proper coordination that turn one individual’s analysis into an IC product we can all stand behind.

Our intel program strategy emphasizes our responsibility to deliver exceptional analysis that enables action, providing insights unique to our place as the lead intelligence agency operating domestically, getting that analysis in the hands of those who need it (whether that’s state and local law enforcement, academia, private industry, other government agencies, or foreign partners), and strategically embedding our personnel in the places where they can strengthen the connection between FBI intelligence and its consumers.

That brings me to the third lever in our intel strategy, training, which focuses on building on the multidisciplinary, team approach that’s so important to our work, emphasizing to our new agents that they’re collectors and consumers of intelligence—as well as investigators—and reinforcing the training our analysts, linguists, and professional staff receive to understand how their work feeds our operations.

The key to this is giving all our employees a common baseline so they can intuitively form cohesive teams and tap into the expertise of all job roles and, ultimately, understand how to apply the full range of our authorities and capabilities to ensure we’re leveraging everything we have in everything we do.

That’s the roadmap we’ll use to better position ourselves to meet our intelligence mission: to identify threats and opportunities, inform decision-making, and avoid surprise. It challenges all of us in the FBI—no matter what threat program we focus on—to think differently, work more closely together, and lean into all of our authorities and capabilities.

Election Year 

As I mentioned at the outset, one threat where an intelligence-driven, team approach is absolutely vital is the threat foreign adversaries pose to our free and fair elections.

The U.S. has confronted foreign malign influence threats in the past, but this election cycle, the U.S. will face more adversaries, moving at a faster pace, and enabled by new technology. Advances in generative AI [artificial intelligence], for instance, are lowering the barrier to entry—making it easier for both more and less-sophisticated foreign adversaries to engage in malign influence, while making foreign-influence efforts by players old and new more realistic and difficult to detect.

Defending against these evolving threats requires us all to be lashed tightly together to continue hitting these threats together, early and hard. For us at the FBI, that means close collaboration with intelligence professionals like you from all of our partner agencies—NSA [the National Security Agency], U.S. Cyber Command, CIA [the Central Intelligence Agency], etc. We’re also working with state and local policymakers and election authorities that oversee nearly all the actual running of elections in the U.S., as well as CISA [the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency]. And, vitally, we’re working with the private sector, as well, where appropriate.

In all these partnerships, we’re sharing information and creating a stronger joint defense so we can more effectively identify and disrupt any threats to our nation’s elections.

And, as intelligence professionals, we’ve got to highlight threats in specific, evidence-based ways so that we’re usefully arming our partners and, in particular, the public against the kinds of foreign-influence operations they’re likely to confront.

So, while the threats are moving faster and have grown more complex, I’m confident that our partnerships—across the government and the private sector—are better than ever, and that our combat-tempo response to election threats will remain as fast, well-coordinated, and skillful as ever.


So, before I close, I just want to say once more how much I appreciate the partnerships represented here today. It’s one of our greatest advantages that we gather in settings like this to learn from each other and explore how we can get better, together—and that we look forward to doing it. And that’s not something, I bet, the Russian or Chinese services are doing. So, it’s in that spirit that I’m grateful for the opportunity to spend time with you this morning and to share how the FBI is ensuring we’re doing our part in contributing to our country and its security.

Thanks, and I look forward to our discussion.