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Podcast Series Trailer: Bad Watchdog

Jan 18, 2023

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.

Host Maren Machles: The Department of Homeland Security is a federal agency that you may not be paying attention to. But over the last several years it’s been at the center of a lot of controversy.

From Secret Service agents roughly clearing BLM protesters in D.C. …

[Crowd noise from Lafayette Square protests]

To the crisis at our southern border …

[KHOU11 reporter: One agent was caught on camera swinging his horse strap at one of the migrants.]

Maren: To January 6th …

[Audio from January 6th insurrection, including radio communications of law enforcement: (inaudible radio communication) ...breached the line. We need backup.]

Maren: It’s a powerful agency. But what happens when the people inside it abuse their power? And what happens when the watchdog tasked with exposing those abuses chooses to look the other way?

[POGO Senior Investigator Nick Schwellenbach: This is the guy running the watchdog shop. But he doesn’t wanna raise red flags when clearly they’re warranted.]

[POGO Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs Liz Hempowicz: President Trump was firing inspectors general left and right if they displeased him.]

[Former Inspector General Gordon Heddell: There’s enough smoke here to … to know that there's a fire burning somewhere.]

[Activist Jenn Budd: How the hell am I gonna be a border patrol agent? If I can’t protect myself
and I can’t do this anymore? I said, “I don’t even believe in what we do anymore. The people I arrest are less criminals than the guys I’m sitting next to.”]

[Director of the Constitution Project Sarah Turberville: Joseph Cuffari is giving cover to abusive agents within the ranks.]

[Former POGO Senior Investigator Adam Zagorin: All these people said that when they reported things, it was detrimental to their career. I mean, this is the story of an agency.]

Maren: This is a podcast about finding the truth and holding people accountable, which is essentially — and not coincidentally — the work of an inspector general.

I’m Maren Machles, and from the Project On Government Oversight, this is Bad Watchdog, a new six-part investigative series launching Thursday, January 26th. Listen and follow wherever you get your podcasts.