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Intelligence community whistleblowers are being misled by government officials

Consider this, from a New York Times article about NSA whistleblower Tom Drake:

[Drake] took his concerns everywhere inside the secret world: to his bosses, to the agency’s inspector general, to the Defense Department’s inspector general and to the Congressional intelligence committees. But he felt his message was not getting through.

So he contacted a reporter for The Baltimore Sun.

Needless to say, that decision cost Drake his career and almost his freedom.

Now consider this, from a recent correspondence between me and an official with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel:

OSC receives classified information in accordance with 5 USC 1213 and handles classified information in accordance with governing laws.

and

OSC has instituted several precautions to handle classified disclosures, including, but not limited to, the use of a locked safe to keep any such materials, and limiting access to such materials to employees that have the right type of clearance. In addition, OSC will soon place additional information on its website about the submission of classified disclosures.

Drake did not go to OSC. Indeed, he believed that OSC had no jurisdiction to help him. Another whistleblower tried to make a classified disclosure to OSC in the 1990’s about nuclear information falling into foreign hands, but OSC blew him off.

OSC may be in violation of the law authorizing it to receive classified disclosures (including highly classified ones), as well as from intelligence agency employees. But its past practice is now coming back to haunt it, and the new leadership is steadfastly sticking to the omnipresent “look forward, not backwards” mantra, preventing it from making a clean break with the past.

If OSC can accept classified disclosures, why aren’t agency heads informing their employees of this fact, as is their obligation per 5 U.S.C. 2301(c)?

If President Obama is so keen on stopping leaks, why isn’t he making a push to inform would-be leakers about the OSC option?

Meanwhile, agents with classified disclosures either trash their careers and subject themselves to prosecutions, or sit on their hands while flawed intelligence estimates justify false wars.

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