Bad Watchdog

Bad Watchdog

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 Hosted on Acast. See for more information.


January 16, 2023 2 min

Government watchdogs don’t normally make the evening news. But when Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari failed to alert Congress for months that Secret Service agents deleted text messages after January 6, he was thrust into the national spotlight. And it turns out there was a lot more that he was covering up. In a new six-part podcast, investigators from the Project On Government Oversight explore what happens when ...

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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 inve...

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January 26, 2023 28 min

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 ref...

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February 2, 2023 28 min

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 t...

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February 9, 2023 36 min

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 tra...

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February 16, 2023 35 min

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 Cuffar...

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February 23, 2023 32 min

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...

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