What powers do the CIA & FBI have outside America?

After seeing in the news etc., how the FBI & CIA are able to demand cooperation from countries, and arrest people anywhere in the world, I wondered how can they arrest people outside America, or even take their suspects out of the countries they are in?

Seems to me that the CIA & FBI are pretty much a global police, able to do anything they wish, is this true?

No, it’s not true. The FBI has no power to arrest people in another sovereign country. They can ask for cooperation from local law enforcement agencies and help them with investigations, and the countries in question are only obligated to cooperate inasmuch as they want to get on the US’s good side. The CIA is an intelligence agency, not a law enforcement one, and as such doesn’t arrest people. (Or if they do they’re not telling anyone.)

friedo has it pretty much bang-on. Any operation by the FBI outside of the United States is strictly at the sufferance of local law enforcement. The CIA is bound by similar rules for overt (i.e. “legal”) operations, but when they go covert, they can pretty much do whatever they can get away with. This hardly makes the Americans unique. The British, French and Soviets all conducted or are conducting operations outside of their borders.

Heck, even Israel has arrested/kidnapped Nazi war criminals for trial, the most famous of whom was Adolph Eichmann, snatched in Argentina in 1960 and subesquently tried and executed in Israel.

Operations like this are unusual, though, and the Americans are nowhere near the stage where they could go out and grab people at will.

Sure Americans could. In general I think the US wants to avoid international incidents and as such will avoid snatching people without very good reason.

However, let someone like Osama bin Laden pop-up somewhere as the ‘guest’ of some country and watch how long it takes the US to go for him. Unless the ‘host’ country is Russia or China or Great Britain I think the US would pounce immediately and would probably think of it even if ObL were in GB, Russia or China.

Of course, I doubt any of those countries would refuse to extradite ObL if they had him.

Probably true but I could see China maybe twisting our tail just because it’s something they do. Still, I think the US would go bonkers in trying to get their hands on him and would apply maximum pressure to see that done. Likely no country would figure ObL was worth that much trouble and would hand him over.