9 episodes

What happens when the watchdog tasked with overseeing the most powerful law enforcement agency in the country doesn’t do its job? In a six-part series, host Maren Machles and investigative reporters from the Project On Government Oversight uncover a shocking pattern of misconduct at the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General, which resulted in a failure to investigate some of the most troubling events in recent history. 
For more, visit pogo.org/series-collections/bad-watchdog

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Bad Watchdog Project On Government Oversight

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.9 • 64 Ratings

What happens when the watchdog tasked with overseeing the most powerful law enforcement agency in the country doesn’t do its job? In a six-part series, host Maren Machles and investigative reporters from the Project On Government Oversight uncover a shocking pattern of misconduct at the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General, which resulted in a failure to investigate some of the most troubling events in recent history. 
For more, visit pogo.org/series-collections/bad-watchdog

Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    The Missing Text Messages (S1 E1)

    The Missing Text Messages (S1 E1)

    How did a peaceful transfer of power devolve into the first breach of the U.S. Capitol in over two centuries? Deleted Secret Service text messages may hold important answers about what happened on January 6, 2021, but Homeland Security watchdog Joseph Cuffari failed to inform Congress for months they were missing. What’s more, Cuffari refused a request to help recover the text messages, and he halted an internal Secret Service investigation into their deletion.  
    Government watchdogs, called inspectors general, are supposed to hold powerful actors accountable. When they don’t do their jobs, the impacts can be disastrous. Investigators at the Project On Government Oversight examine Cuffari’s initial response to the missing Secret Service text messages and explore his abrupt change of course after a former White House aide gave shocking testimony about then-President Trump’s actions on January 6th.
    For transcript and show notes, visit pogo.org/podcasts/bad-watchdog

    Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    • 27 min
    The Tip of the Iceberg (S1 E2)

    The Tip of the Iceberg (S1 E2)

    A troubling pattern of ignoring serious misconduct at the Department of Homeland Security begins to emerge. Despite widespread condemnation of law enforcement’s use of tear gas on Black Lives Matter protesters gathered in Lafayette Square in Washington, Homeland Security watchdog Joseph Cuffari declined to investigate the incident. Investigative reporters Nick Schwellenbach and Adam Zagorin walk Maren through Cuffari’s baffling refusal to investigate the Secret Service’s role in the violence in Lafayette Square or the abuse of migrants by Customs and Border Protection agents.  
    For transcript and show notes, visit pogo.org/podcasts/bad-watchdog

    Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    • 28 min
    Abuse of Power and People (S1 E3)

    Abuse of Power and People (S1 E3)

    Nick and Adam discover that Cuffari’s office removed damaging findings from an official report about dozens of cases of domestic abuse by Homeland Security law enforcement agents with access to government-issued firearms, and they poke holes in Cuffari’s excuses for refusing to criticize the agencies he’s supposed to hold accountable. Maren circles up with experts to learn about how the Department of Homeland Security became home to the largest and least accountable law enforcement agency in the federal government.  
    For transcript and show notes, visit pogo.org/podcasts/bad-watchdog

    Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    • 28 min
    The Story of an Agency (S1 E4)

    The Story of an Agency (S1 E4)

    The Homeland Security watchdog tries to bury a report on sexual harassment and misconduct at the agency, but POGO’s investigators expose the plot. Maren talks to former Border Patrol officer and current reform advocate Jenn Budd about her own painful experiences working for the agency. DHS Secretary Mayorkas responds almost immediately to Nick and Adam’s findings, and Congress starts asking questions about Cuffari. 
    For transcript and show notes, visit pogo.org/podcasts/bad-watchdog

    Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    • 36 min
    Who is Joseph Cuffari? (S1 E5)

    Who is Joseph Cuffari? (S1 E5)

    Cuffari’s mismanagement of Homeland Security’s watchdog office has Maren wondering how he ended up with such an important job in the first place. She looks back at his Senate confirmation, alleged ethics violations, and dubious qualifications, and she and Nick talk with Representative Bennie Thompson (D-MS), chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security, about his efforts to hold Cuffari accountable. Nick and Adam detail Cuffari’s early fights with his own staff, and a group of anonymous watchdog office staff plead with President Biden to remove their boss.  
    For transcript and show notes, visit pogo.org/podcasts/bad-watchdog

    Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    • 35 min
    The Perfect Storm (S1 E6)

    The Perfect Storm (S1 E6)

    In the final episode of “Bad Watchdog,” Nick and Adam discover that Cuffari knew about even more missing January 6th text messages from the Trump-era DHS leadership team, and Maren asks the million-dollar question: Why hasn’t this guy been removed from power? Experts weigh reforms to the inspector general system that would improve accountability for bad watchdogs and discuss what may be preventing President Biden from taking action. Maren gives Cuffari’s staff the final word. 
    For transcript and show notes, visit pogo.org/podcasts/bad-watchdog

    Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    • 32 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
64 Ratings

64 Ratings

HattieC🖤 ,

Excellent Podcast

Host Maren does a wonderful job diving into an infuriating topic that I was ignorant to prior to listening. Well researched and sourced, great pace, you should definitely listen to this!! Can’t wait to see what these folks do next!

Nanjing94 ,

Shout it from the rooftops!!

DHS is broken and rotten to the core. It oversees the largest and most troubled law enforcement agency in the land -- the very one that was harnessed by an authoritarian-leaning president to attack peaceful protesters; the very one that intersects, daily, with the most vulnerable of the most vulnerable people: the migrant population, which it abuses with impunity. "There's enough smoke here that there's a fire burning somewhere." And, yet, the #1 watchdog meant to protect the US public from these violations to our democracy is complicit! I've dealt with Cuffari, and every word of this podcast is true: He's either the dumbest person on the planet, tragically inept, or he's rotten to the core, too. Thank you POGO for calling him out!

Concerned citizen 2023 ,

Riveting - once you think you’ve heard the worse, it gets more disturbing

It’s hard to imagine a government agency that needs oversight more than the Department of Homeland Security. But its top watchdog official has too often failed to do his job, as this compelling podcast makes clear.

This podcast should be assigned in university government classes. There’s the way our system of checks and balances is supposed to work and the way it actually does… and doesn’t.

I hope Congress and the White House are listening.

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