9/11 Made Counterterrorism ‘a More Pressing Priority’ for the Nation and for These Volunteers
On the 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance, we recognize the Lint Center for National Security Studies for its work to keep Americans safe. Read about this Daily Point of Light Award winner, and nominate someone you know as a Daily Point of Light.
James Lint was a 19-year-old Marine on duty in the Mediterranean when he had his first encounter with a national security threat. She was an attractive young woman, as Lint remembers the story, and she took an interest in the warship he was guarding.
“She asked me what types of weapons we had aboard the ship, and whether it ran on nuclear power,” Lint recalls. He cut the conversation short and reported the incident to the counterintelligence team aboard his ship.
That moment shaped his career in national intelligence, and Lint retells the story to the young people he mentors through the Lint Center for National Security Studies, a volunteer organization he started in 2007 to develop emerging leaders in national security and counterintelligence.
Since 9/11, “there has been an increased need for intelligence, counterintelligence and national security workers,” Lint says. “Counterterrorism efforts, obviously, experienced a surge and evolved into a more pressing priority.”
The Lint Center offers a mentoring program that connects people interested in pursuing careers in national service with professionals in the U.S. intelligence field. More than 200 mentors – seasoned practitioners in their field – volunteer through the center to show younger people how they can serve in the intelligence community.
The volunteers share “the lessons learned, the wisdom gleaned from experience and the knowledge attained in the trenches,” Lint says. “It is important that we grow a new and smarter counterintelligence and national security workforce to replace those of us who are retiring.”
The Lint Center also awards merit-based scholarships ranging from $500 to $1,500 to people pursuing educational opportunities in government and international affairs that can prepare them to serve the interests of national security. Since 2007, the center has awarded 32 scholarships, with financial support from corporate sponsors ranging from an investment bank to a geopolitical intelligence firm.
Lint, now retired from military and civilian intelligence service, knows outsiders get many of their ideas about the intelligence community from what they see on TV or at the movies. Lint points out that, by virtue of the important and highly sensitive role they play, intelligence and defense professionals cannot draw attention to their work.
Lint sees value in the volunteer mentoring program, to dispel the James Bond fantasies for those seriously considering a career in intelligence. He credits the center’s volunteers for helping the program succeed.
“We are an all-volunteer force,” Lint explains, “so every action is done through the generous donation of someone’s time, skill set and desire to see us succeed.”