Bad Watchdog Season 2 launches June 20.

Announcing Bad Watchdog Season 2

In the wake of 9/11, and in fear of another attack, members of Congress agreed to create a powerful new agency, the Department of Homeland Security.  Now, more than 20 years later, the agency has exploded in size. It’s doubled down on detaining immigrants — sometimes in horrifying conditions. This summer, the Project On Government Oversight’s investigative podcast Bad Watchdog returns, with a new season focused on DHS. Host Maren Machles talks with people caught up in DHS detention, with advocates, investigators, and others sounding the alarm. Delving into POGO’s investigations of the agency, she asks: How did we get to a point where every undocumented person is seen as a possible national security threat? And what does that viewpoint cost us all?  

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Bad Watchdog is a member of the Airwave Media network and a part of The Democracy Group, a network of podcasts that examines what’s broken in our democracy and how we can work together to fix it.

News Anchor: A steady stream of survivors emerged from two of the world’s tallest buildings.

Bad Watchdog host Maren Machles: In the 90s ...

NBC News Anchor: A massive car bomb exploded outside of a large federal building in downtown Oklahoma City 

Maren: ... and into the early 2000s ... 

CBS Reporter: Oh, there’s another one. Another plane just hit. 

Maren: ... a series of deadly terrorist attacks would shake the foundations of U.S. counterterrorism policy. And ultimately lead to the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. 

[Music plays.]

Then-President George W. Bush: The continuing threat of terrorism, the threat of mass murder on our own soil ... 

Maren: On this season of Bad Watchdog, we are looking at what DHS is really doing to address the threats it was created to meet. 

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas:  The terrorism related threats we face as a nation have significantly evolved since the department’s creation in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Maren: We’re going to take you inside immigration detention facilities, where DHS is holding people with the assumption that they may be threats to national security. 

Berto Hernandez: The water’s really dirty, like, I got a bacteria, like, in the back of my head. Woke up one day and like the back of like my pillow was full of blood because that was like, that was bleeding so much throughout the night.  

Maren: We’ll dig into POGO’s exclusive investigations on how DHS treats the people in custody.

Former POGO Senior Researcher Freddy Martinez: People unable to access interpreters, lawyers. People are being asked to sign legal paperwork that they don’t understand. How do you describe pain in a language that, you know, you don’t speak, right? Is it a throbbing pain? Is it a shooting pain?

Maren: And how the agency tried to keep internal investigations of its detention facilities a secret.

POGO Senior Paralegal Lance Sims: To have the government fight tooth and nail to keep this information hidden is offensive.

Maren: And we’ll learn more about the most dangerous threat — one that has been festering in plain sight.

[Audio from Charlottesville Unite the Right Rally]: Jews will not replace us!

[Audio from January 6, 2021]: Breach of the Capitol!

Maren: And within its own ranks.

POGO Senior Investigator Nick Schwellenbach: It only takes one insider who has an association with an extremist group like the Oath Keepers to undermine federal law enforcement attempts to go after crimes by groups like these. 

Former DHS Intelligence Analyst Daryl Johnson: For DHS to finally acknowledge the threat in the aftermath of the threat literally coming to the doorsteps of the Capitol building, it’s a little bit too late.

Maren: I’m Maren Machles, and from the Project On Government Oversight, listen to Bad Watchdog Season 2 wherever you get your podcasts, starting June 20. 

[Music stops.]