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    Posted May 10, 2014 by
    Jacksonville, North Carolina
    This iReport is part of an assignment:

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    The Snowden Effect on #BringBackOurGirls.


    The Disclosures by Snowden might hinder recovery efforts in Nigeria.


    Washington- On Monday, the White house announced that they would be helping Nigeria in their search for the 300 schoolgirls that were kidnapped by the foreign terrorist organization Boko Haram. The U.S has vowed to send a team made up of intelligence officials and law enforcement personal to gain insight into this terrorist organization and assist the Nigerian government in recovering these girls.

    Time is obviously paramount in this case and right now it's unfortunately not on our side.

    On the same day that the White House announced its assistance in recovering the schoolgirls, Boko Haram had also announced their responsibility for the mass abduction and their intentions to sell the girls into slavery. Furthermore, some reports have also indicated that some of the schoolgirls might have already been moved out of the country.

    White House Press Secretary Jay Carney along with the State Department has stated that they are monitoring the situation closely and are in constant contact with the Nigerian government, providing support through information-sharing and boosting their counter terrorism efforts along with training Nigerian officials in forensics gathering and conducting counter IED operations.

    I call it the Snowden Effect; it's the insidious problem that will be hindering the task force's efforts in bringing back the girls safely to their families. Here's why.

    One of the first priorities for the task force in Nigeria will be to establish a intelligence collections plan to gain insight into Boko Haram. Credible intelligence has to be established in order for operations to be effective in the region. On the scale of intelligence disciplines, signals intelligence is the most expeditious route to gain insider information on operations within Boko Haram. Unfortunately, this is where the Snowden Effect will have the biggest impact on the short supply of time.

    In March of this year, the Deputy Director of the National Security Agency Richard Ledgett responded to Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor at a TED talk’s conference. During the interview, Mr. Ledgett was asked exactly how Mr. Snowden had put operatives and military personal around the world in harm’s way by disclosing top-secret documents to The Guardian and the Washington Post. Mr. Ledgett stated that because Mr. Snowden had released the means and methods for gathering signals intelligence, they (NSA) have seen terrorist organizations around the world move away from using communications to coordinate their operations, which has made it very difficult for the intelligence community to continue to collect critical information on foreign terrorist organizations.

    So what does this mean? Simply put, the task force in Nigeria might not be able to rely on signals intelligence (the most reliable discipline) to recover the schoolgirls, instead they will have to rely on other intelligence gathering techniques such as Human intelligence or Geospatial intelligence, which can be time consuming and could take months to establish an effective plan. This is time the task force simply does not have.


    The task force in Nigeria will have a uphill battle to fight and not a lot of time to fight it. I believe that the task force would have had the full scope of intelligence gathering if not for the Snowden disclosures.

    Furthermore, Mr. Snowden failed to bring his concerns about program 215 to the attention of any inspector general. He failed to bring it up to the Senate Intelligence Committee or the House Intelligence Committee. If Mr. Snowden had brought his concerns to the many outlets that were provided to him, the means and methods of signals intelligence would have been protected.

    Foreign terrorist organizations would not have moved away from using telecommunications and his concerns about bulk data collection would have been addressed. But that's not what happened. So the question is could Mr. Snowden be responsible for hindering the time sensitive investigation and recovery of innocent children?

    I guess only time will tell.

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