Council on Intelligence Issues — Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Council on Intelligence Issues?

The Council, or CII, is a non-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization established to conduct and provide support for education, research, and increased public awareness of intelligence and national security matters, including various employment-related risks faced by current and former employees of the CIA and the Intelligence Community, and the means available to mitigate these risks.

How will CII’s educational activities function?

CII will host panel discussions and seminars, prepare informational materials, and draw upon a network of experts willing to speak or write responsibly about intelligence issues.  Interested parties may call upon CII for the names of such experts around the country to engage in responsible, informed dialogue on intelligence-related issues and topics.

Will the CII’s work be helpful to those associated with CIA and the Intelligence Community generally?

Yes.  As part of its public education activity, the CII will conduct general research into the risks current and former officers of the CIA and those currently or formerly affiliated with the Intelligence Community face in connection with their employment and the means available to respond to these risks.  This information will likely prove helpful to those associated with the CIA and the Intelligence Community as they seek to better understand and deal with the legal and other risks they face when their intelligence responsibilities and duties put them or their families in legal, financial, reputational, or similar personal jeopardy.

What are some examples of how this can help?

The CII’s literature, roundtables, and other informational activities will develop published materials that these current and former intelligence practitioners are likely to find helpful in understanding potential risks they face and the general legal options available for dealing with them.  The CII’s attorney network will contain information about legal professionals experienced in handling matters involving classified material if current or former intelligence personnel conclude they need legal guidance.

Will CII provide personal legal advice?

No.  CII will provide counseling assistance and information on others who have experience responding to risks often faced by current and former intelligence personnel.  The CII’s published materials will contain general information that will likely help them make decisions suited to their particular situations, but CII will not represent individuals or serve as their attorneys. 

If CII can’t provide legal advice, why should a current or former associate of the CIA or Intelligence Community turn to CII?

CII helps officers who need legal help identify skilled attorneys who can represent them. The CII will facilitate access to information about skilled lawyers and others who can help a person make meaningful decisions about what to do when faced with these or similar circumstances.  CII also facilitates public awareness of information and analysis about legal issues, challenges, and risks associated with intelligence operations.  As a result, current and former intelligence personnel in a variety of situations are also likely to find its materials educational; for example, personnel who may not be certain if they are at legal risk, who are accused of criminal conduct, or who simply may be asked to appear as witnesses in legal and other proceedings. 

What is the CII legal database or network?

The CII has information relating to experienced attorneys who have or are likely to be able to obtain security clearances to assist current and former CIA personnel, and others currently or formerly associated with the Intelligence Community as appropriate, who either need, or who may be unsure if they need, legal assistance in connection with actions taken while employed by or for the CIA/United States Government.

Why should I turn to CII as opposed to finding my own attorney?

CII attorney network consists of attorneys who are skilled in dealing with national security-related matters, including classified material.  Many already have security clearances or otherwise can be approved for access to information at issue.  They also have agreed to provide initial free legal counseling and reduce fees in some cases based on case-by-case determinations. Turning to CII can save time and unnecessary expense.

Will the CII retain information on those experienced in handling risks faced by intelligence professionals besides lawyers?

Yes.  CII maintains information about individuals with expertise on a variety of intelligence-related matters.  This includes experts interested in speaking or writing to increase awareness of intelligence issues, practices, risks, and options for addressing them including mediation.

How can I get access to information the CII maintains on experts and lawyers?

If you would like the services of an expert to speak at an event or to discuss intelligence issues generally, or if you would like to identify a lawyer who may be of assistance in matters involving classified material, information the CII maintains may be helpful.  Please review the CII website ( for information or contact 

What will this service cost me?

You will normally not be charged for information CII maintains or other CII materials. 

Will CII help me if I am accused of a crime related to my employment?

CII’s public education materials may be helpful in assessing some issues related to criminal investigations and responses to them. CII’s resources will include information available upon request about criminal lawyers experienced in handling national security-related matters.

Will I be denied assistance if I want to sue the Government?

Information in the CII’s lawyer database is available regardless of the legal action in question.

Does CII work for the CIA or other Government agencies

No.  CII is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that sets its priorities and makes its operational decisions independent of Government input.  As part of its mission to improve public awareness of intelligence issues, theory, law, and practice, CII may collaborate with CIA and other agencies where appropriate.

What will CII assistance cost me?

CII does not charge for the information it provides.  The attorneys in the CII network have indicated that they will provide initial consultations free of charge.  Many of these attorneys have indicated that they also may be willing to provide subsequent services on a reduced fee or pro bono basis.  The details of such relationships are established independent of CII.  To the extent consistent with the CII’s tax-exempt status under 26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(3), the CII intends to identify information about which legal professionals provide pro bono legal assistance.

Will speakers and others also provide free services?

CII sponsored activities are generally free, but payment to CII’s experts for separate speaking engagements, opinion pieces, or other activities is left to the discretion of the individuals concerned.

Is the CII affiliated with any other organization?

CII intends to engage with affiliated entities as an important part of the longer-term CII vision.  Separate organizational structures may complement CII activities consistent with CII’s status as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization.

Will CII’s activities duplicate what other organizations do?

No.  If another organization is already providing those services, CII will not need to. 

Will the CII lobby?

Under no circumstances will the CII engage directly or indirectly in any political campaign or seek to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities.  The Council will, however, be available to share its expertise on intelligence matters with legislators, the media, and the public as well as others who may request CII insights on matters of general and specific interest to the CIA, the Intelligence Community, or their personnel.

How does CII get its funding?

The CII will rely entirely upon contributions by donors to fund its charitable operations. 

How can I donate or otherwise contribute to CII?

Thank you for your interest in
supporting CII’s mission. The CII welcomes volunteers as well as financial
contributions.  Donations should be made payable to the Council on
Intelligence Issues, or CII, and mailed to:

Council on Intelligence Issues
P.O. Box 427
McLean, VA 22101-0427

Individuals interested in contributing to CII either through financial or other donations or by joining the legal network, providing volunteer services, or otherwise assisting CII should contact: or or click here to Contribute.