The Council on Intelligence Issues was established in 2010, but its creation was inspired in part by an event in the 1980’s. One of the CII co-founders, then a CIA lawyer, was warned that he would be investigated for obstruction of justice if he advised an operations officer who wanted to meet to discuss whether he should get a lawyer before meeting with criminal investigators. He never forgot that warning and its implications: The ops officer had to fend for himself to obtain legal counsel, and CIA officers need somewhere to turn for legal assistance when CIA and other government agencies cannot help.
Memory of that incident quickly came to mind in 2009 with the announcement of a criminal investigation of CIA officers for their actions in the conduct of a controversial counterterrorism program. The program had been approved at the highest levels of government, briefed to members of Congress, and CIA officers had been told the program was legal. After discussions with government officials, employee and retiree support groups, and others, the now-retired CIA lawyer, George Jameson, and former operations official Bill Murray decided something had to be done to help current and former employees who might not know where to turn for assistance.
In 2010 they founded the Council on Intelligence Issues, or CII, as an independent non-profit corporation to help employees who need legal or other assistance because of issues arising from their work. Jameson and Murray obtained early support from former colleagues Mary Ellen Keene, Darlene Connelly, and a number of intelligence experts who joined the CII’s advisory board. These included former policy, operational, and legal officials who had held senior positions such as deputy directors and assistant directors of central intelligence, deputy and acting general counsel, chief information officer, chief financial officer, as well as a former U.S. attorney general and a former White House counsel. The CII also was fortunate to obtain pro bono legal assistance from Robert Rizzi and others in the law firm where he was a partner.
Refining the Organization
In charting its course and throughout its existence, the CII has consulted with numerous other organizations that serve the interests of employees from CIA and other intelligence agencies. The goals of CII and these other groups are similar in many respects, but those missions and activities are not identical. How the CII functions is reflected in one of its operating principles: There should be “no overlap and no underlap” regarding support to intelligence professionals these groups all seek to serve. The CII’s primary focus is on legal risks and solutions as well as public information. A spirit of collaboration is alive and well in that regard, with an overall goal being to support those who have acted in good faith service to the Nation.
In September 2018 and early 2019 the CII’s founders invited several distinguished public and private sector leaders, all former CIA officials, to join the Board of Directors. Joining Jameson and Murray on the CII Board were Charles Campbell, Mary Corrado, Dawn Eilenberger, John Nelson, Alan Wade, and John Gannon. Mr. Gannon, formerly the advisory board chairman, was elected chairman of the CII Board of Directors. Over the next 3 years they guided CII as it approached its second decade of operations. Joined by new Board member and former CIA Deputy Vaughn Bishop, the Board developed and is implementing its strategic plan, engaged in planning and presenting several webinar events in collaboration organizations such as the International Spy Museum and American Bar Association, and strengthened its reputation as an entity committed to the best interests of intelligence officers and an informed public. Since 2022, the Board has seen the departure of Vaughn Bishop, John Nelson, and Charles Campbell and the arrival of former officers Andrew Makridis and Dawn Meyerriecks
CII Tomorrow. This evolution, additions, and vital support from CII’s advisory committee reflect CII’s commitment to a vigorous and collaborative effort to further the CII’s goals of both assisting CIA and other intelligence employees and increasing the public’s awareness of the challenges they face and the value they add to America’s national security efforts.
Historical Note. The term “CII” represents the Roman numeral “102” which is the section in the National Security Act of 1947 that established the Central Intelligence Agency, the first public intelligence organization reflected in statute.
CII Board of Directors Today. The CII’s Board of Directors is an integral part of the exciting steps being taken to become a vibrant and effective voice to support CIA and other intelligence officers for their good faith service to the Nation and to offer informational programs that enhance the public’s awareness of the challenges and risks facing intelligence officers.