The Best Defense

Rebecca's War Dogs of the Week: Obama's entourage of 30 sniffer pups

By Rebecca Frankel
Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent

President Barack Obama flies off on his big trip to Asia this week, and traveling with him, among others, will be 30 bomb-sniffing military dogs.

Working security detail for the president has its perks -- these dogs will be traveling in style, staying in 5-star hotels where they can receive the kind of proper care they need, including special diet food sent ahead from home and a temperature-regulated environment to help the dogs adjust to a new climate.

Some of these reports of the dog detail traveling with the president -- like others alleging that the cost of Obama's trip is a $200 million per day expense -- seem a little sketchy.

But according to an English-language website based in India, a source inside the Mumbai travel agency arranging transportation for Obama's service detail told reporters that the preparations for Obama's sniffing dogs have been in the works for months when prior to the trip, the U.S. consulate "asked for more than 10 customised cars for dogs during the president's visit" to apparently "move with the president's convoy. …"

The cars, apparently, had to be specially outfitted: "For the comfort of the dogs, the back seats in the cars were removed and the interiors were refurbished to ensure they [sic] were no sharp edges." The source added, "Never before, have we seen such VIP treatment for animals."

It seems the arrival of one U.S. military dog in Obama's bomb-sniffing troop to India -- allegedly named "Khan" -- is already causing something of a media storm.

Yes, we Khan!



The Best Defense

Waterboarding update: President Bush fought the law, and the law... lost?

In February 1968, a U.S. soldier was court-martialed simply for holding down a Vietnamese man while two Vietnamese soldiers waterboarded him, according to Guenter Lewy's America in Vietnam. (329)

I mention this because both George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney now have publicly admitted they were approving of waterboarding, a form of torture that once was a crime in the eyes of the U.S. government -- and still is under international laws.

The Washington Post reports that in his new memoir, My Pointy Head, President Bush's response to a request to waterboard 9/11 big nut Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was, "Damn right." (Meanwhile, Cheney stated earlier this year that, "I was a big supporter of waterboarding.")

The Post quotes Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch: "Waterboarding is broadly seen by legal experts around the world as torture, and it is universally prosecutable as a crime. The fact that none of us expect any serious consequences from this admission is what is most interesting."

That said, it will be interesting to watch whether either of these guys, or their campaign-contributor ambassadors, ever travel in Europe. I suspect that one day we could see a lower-ranking type detained for questioning upon de-planing in EU territory.