At least in principle, he could have gone to the Office of Special Counsel. But he didn’t, and the decision to go to a newspaper reporter probably cost him his career, and almost his freedom.

Why didn’t he go to OSC?

Because he didn’t know that option existed. Neither did the attorneys he consulted with, or, really, most people in the whistleblower community. Neither did the pre-eminent whistleblower advocacy organization, Government Accountability Project, according to Drake.

But at least one person there knew, its Legal Director, Tom Devine. He recently stated that “everybody knows that Title 5 employees can make classified disclosures to OSC.”

But this simply isn’t true. Devine may have known, and did know, as early as 2006. (See page 5).

But his organization’s client, Thomas Drake, did not. And neither did another GAP client, Robert MacLean. And another GAP client, Mark Danielson, tried making classified disclosures to OSC in the 1990′s about stolen nuclear info, but OSC rebuffed him. While Devine was there, guiding Danielson through the labyrinthine whistleblower process.

Now OSC is saying that they have the means of accepting classified disclosures. We’ll see.

In case you’re wondering how this can happen, well, the quality of lawyering in the whistleblowing world is not that high (see Paul Igasaki’s comments in this video). Neither is the integrity of rule of law there.

We’ll see.