Bad Watchdog Season 2 launches June 20.


The Paper Trail: February 9, 2024

Boeing’s Self-Inspection Program; TV’s Big Dark (Money) Secret; Construction Industry’s #1 Killer: Drug Overdoses; and More.

The Paper Trail logo in front of government buildings in Washington, DC

Delivered Tuesdays and Fridays, The Paper Trail is a curated collection of the government news you need to know. Sign up to get this newsletter delivered to your inbox.

The Paper Trail


The House Office of the Whistleblower Ombuds will have a pop-up tabling event in the Longworth Dunkin Donuts, Tuesday, February 13 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. House staff can stop by to meet the office’s team and ask any questions. For more information, please contact Charmise Jackson at [email protected].

Top stories for February 9, 2024

The hole in Boeing’s inspection program: For the past 15 years, the government has allowed Boeing to conduct its own manufacturing and safety inspections. During that time, government reports, experts, and whistleblowers have warned that the self-inspection program has led to serious production issues and contributed to two fatal crashes. (Freddy Brewster, The Lever)

🔎 See Also: FAA chief pledges “more boots on the ground” to monitor Boeing (Mark Walker, New York Times)

Biden officials confront limits of federal response in exercise preparing for 2024 election threats: When it comes to a coordinated federal response to rampant disinformation, deepfakes, and the harassment of election officials, the FBI, CIA, and departments of Homeland Security and Justice are “all f—king tied up in knots,” said an official. (Sean Lyngaas, CNN)

TV’s big dark (money) secret: As the 2024 election looms, political advertising is flooding the airwaves and internet. The broadcasters and tech platforms getting paid for those ads have long fought efforts to expose the identities of the interests that are funding them. (Katya Schwenk, The Lever)

Mattis secretly advised Arab monarch on Yemen war, records show: Retired Marine General Jim Mattis didn’t publicly reveal his consulting work for the UAE when he returned to the Pentagon in 2017 to become secretary of defense. There are conflicting accounts about whether Mattis was paid for this work. (Craig Whitlock and Nate Jones, Washington Post)

FinCEN pressured to implement anti-money-laundering, sanctions whistleblower program: A bipartisan group of senators pressed the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the anti-money-laundering bureau of the Treasury Department, to explain its delay in fully implementing a whistleblower award program for reporting possible crimes. (Mengqi Sun, Wall Street Journal)

Proposed contractor cyber reporting rule sets a “significantly problematic” bar, industry groups say: Cybersecurity and technology trade groups urged the government to rethink a proposed rule that would intensify requirements for federal contractors when they report cybersecurity incidents. The measure stems from a May 2021 executive order aimed at shoring up the nation’s cybersecurity defenses. (David DiMolfetta, Government Executive)

Classified Documents

Special counsel says there is evidence Biden “willfully retained and disclosed classified materials” but will not be charged: Special counsel Robert Hur declined to prosecute President Biden for his handling of classified documents but said Biden’s practices “present serious risks to national security.” (Ryan J. Reilly, Ken Dilanian, and Megan Lebowitz, NBC News)


Supreme Court poised to allow Trump to remain on Colorado ballot: The Supreme Court seems poised to allow Donald Trump to remain on the Colorado ballot, expressing deep concerns about permitting a single state to disqualify the leading Republican candidate from seeking national office. (Ann E. Marimow and Patrick Marley, Washington Post)

🔎 See Also: Trump has no immunity from Jan. 6 prosecution, appeals court rules (Rachel Weiner, Washington Post)

🔎 See Also: Gaetz, Stefanik offer resolution declaring Trump “did not engage in insurrection” (Mychael Schnell, The Hill)

State Department diplomatic security officer arrested on Jan. 6 charges: Kevin Alstrup, who worked for the State Department as a diplomatic security officer, was charged with the same four misdemeanor charges that have typically been given to nonviolent January 6 participants who entered the Capitol. (Ryan J. Reilly, NBC News)

Dobbs Aftermath

Anti-abortion group’s studies retracted before Supreme Court mifepristone case: Scientific journal publisher Sage retracted two key studies cited by anti-abortion groups in a case before the Supreme Court aiming to revoke regulatory approval of the abortion medication mifepristone. (Beth Mole, Ars Technica)

Inspectors General

Sen. Ron Wyden calls on Biden to fire Social Security’s top watchdog: In a letter sent Wednesday to the White House, Sen. Wyden said promises by Inspector General Gail Ennis to “establish a culture that welcomes debate, collaboration, and transparency … appear to have been hollow.” Ennis faces multiple long-running investigations into her leadership. (Joe Davidson, Washington Post)

Police Misconduct

Some Calif. cops still sharing license plate info with anti-abortion states: Dozens of California police agencies are still sharing automated license plate reader data with out-of-state authorities without a warrant, despite guidance issued by the state’s attorney general last year. (Ashley Belanger, Ars Technica)

Plan to overhaul NYPD protest response survives police union challenge: New York City police will no longer be allowed to use a controversial tactic called “kettling,” where officers encircle protesters before making a mass arrest. The department will also be required to form an oversight committee to evaluate how officers act at demonstrations. (Samantha Max, Gothamist)


New report raises concerns about long COVID in children: The report suggests that 10% to 20% of children in the U.S. who had COVID developed long COVID, which can lead to neurological, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and behavioral symptoms. (The CDC puts the prevalence of long COVID in children at around 1%.) (Dana G. Smith and Dani Blum, New York Times)

Defense and Veterans Affairs

American base in Jordan where drone killed 3 U.S. troops dogged by inadequate air defenses: Tower 22, the U.S. base in Jordan where three U.S. troops were killed by an attack drone last month, suffered from inadequate anti-drone defenses. (Ken Klippenstein, The Intercept)

5 Marines killed in CH-53E helicopter crash in California: CH-53Es are some of the oldest helicopters in the Marine Corps aviation fleet and have the most serious readiness problems of all Corps aircraft. (Jeff Schogol, Task & Purpose)

Landmark study documents cancer cases among Camp Lejeune victims: Many of the thousands of former Marines, civilian workers, and family members exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune, whose damage claims and lawsuits are currently frozen over procedural matters, are lauding a new federal study showing links to higher cancer rates that they say bolsters their cases. (Mike Magner, Roll Call)

Business and Finance

Confronted with child labor in the U.S., companies move to crack down: As thousands of unaccompanied migrant children have crossed the southern U.S. border in recent years, growing numbers have ended up in dangerous, illegal jobs. McDonald’s, Costco, and other major brands say they’re stepping up efforts to make sure minors working in their supply chains aren’t doing grueling or dangerous jobs. (Hannah Dreier, New York Times)

Construction industry grapples with its top killer: drug overdose: Construction workers are more likely to die of overdoses than those in any other line of work, according to a new CDC analysis. The disparity stems in part from addictive medication workers are prescribed to manage pain from on-the-job injuries. (J. Edward Moreno, New York Times)


AI-generated voices in robocalls can deceive voters. The FCC just made them illegal: Effective immediately, a new regulation empowers the FCC to fine companies that use AI-generated voices in their calls or block the service providers that carry them. It also allows call recipients to file lawsuits and gives state attorneys general a new mechanism to crack down on violators. (Politico)

🔎 See Also: Texas company was behind voter robocalls that impersonated Biden (Maggie Astor, New York Times)

Feds offer up to $10 million reward for info on Hive ransomware hackers: Since 2021, the Hive ransomware gang and its affiliates have targeted more than 1,500 institutions in over 80 countries, including the U.S., and have stolen more than $100 million from school districts, financial firms, and critical infrastructure. (Kate Gibson, CBS News)


Immigration and Border Security:

Federal records show increasing use of solitary confinement for immigrants

Deportation flights from the U.S. to Venezuela in limbo

Bused from Texas to Manhattan, an immigrant struggles to find shelter

Other News:

The world just marked a year above a critical climate limit scientists have warned about

Data shows at least 8,500 U.S. schools at greater risk of measles outbreaks as vaccination rates decline

House fails to impeach DHS secretary

Chinese spies are targeting access, not race

Harvard is accused of obstructing House antisemitism inquiry

Worst responders: The far-right extremists mobilizing to mass shootings

Upcoming Events

📌 Webinar: Pulling Back the Curtain on Who is Targeting State Supreme Courts to Limit Our Freedoms. Democracy Alliance. Tuesday, February 13, 3:00 p.m. ET.

📌 Oversight of the United States Marshals Service. House Committee on the Judiciary; Subcommittee on Crime and Federal Government Surveillance. Wednesday, February 14, 10:00 a.m., 2141 Rayburn House Office Building.

📌 VA’s HR Office: Did Leaders Ignore and Perpetrate Sexual Harassment? House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Wednesday, February 14, 10:15 a.m., 360 Canon House Office Building.

Hot Docs

🔥📃 VA OIG: Noncompliance with Contractor Employee Vetting Requirements Exposes VA to Risk. 21-03255-02 (PDF)

🔥📃 Physicians for Human Rights / Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program / Peeler Immigration Lab: “Endless Nightmare”: Torture and Inhuman Treatment in Solitary Confinement in U.S. Immigration Detention. February 6, 2024

Nominations & Appointments


  • Sarah Baker - General Counsel, Department of Transportation
  • Sanket J. Bulsara - Judge, United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
  • Dena Michaela Coggins - Judge, United States District Court for the Eastern District of California
  • Emily Edenshaw - Member, National Council on the Humanities
  • Margaret FitzPatrick - Member, National Council on the Humanities
  • Colonel John E. Richardson - United States Marshal for the Middle District of Alabama
  • Eric Schulte - Judge, United States District Court for the District of South Dakota
  • Camela C. Theeler - Judge, United States District Court for the District of South Dakota
  • Deborah Willis - Member, National Council on the Humanities


  • Ernest Gonzalez - Judge, United States District Court for the Western District of Texas
  • Leon Schydlower - Judge, United States District Court for the Western District of Texas