On Wednesday afternoon, Trump tweeted a photo that purportedly shows him giving a medal to the dog, whose name is being kept confidential. The ribbons on the medal are not unlike those on the Congressional Medal of Honor. But rather than the actual medal, the image instead shows a paw print rendered in a metal medallion.
The dog is a Belgian Malinois, a breed with an exceptional affinity for smell. That makes that specific breed useful in a variety of military uses, such as sniffing out bombs, rescuing survivors hidden by rubble, or indeed, their quarry. This particular dog was somehow involved in the raid that led to the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. His or her role in the process has not been revealed, as it was a classified military operation — indeed, revealing more information about the animal could compromise his safety, according to a Monday HuffPost report.
There are, however, a few alleged problems with Trump’s tweet.
For one thing, the animal was not in Washington at the time Trump supposedly bestowed a medal upon him. Military officials say that he or she was injured by an electrical cable during the raid. Though injured, the dog is back on duty, somewhere in the Middle East, according to U.S. Central Command.
AMERICAN HERO! pic.twitter.com/XCCa2sGfsZ
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 30, 2019
What’s more, the manner in which the photo of the dog has been artificially inserted into another image was clear to those familiar with photo manipulation.
Further, internet sleuths figured out that the original photo in which Trump bestowed a medal came from July 2017, during which Trump bestowed the Medal of Honor — sometimes colloquially, but incorrectly, called the Congressional Medal of Honor — on Specialist Five James C. McCloughan.
Fwiw, looks like the photoshopped image here is of Trump's first medal of honor ceremony, for James McCloughan. (Photo via CNN) pic.twitter.com/ken50cFePi
— Matt Shuham (@mattshuham) October 30, 2019
McCloughan was awarded the medal for his actions during the Vietnam War.
“McCloughan ran 100 meters to [an injured soldier] through an open field, ducking and dodging the crossfire of his company and a charging platoon of North Vietnamese Army. Upon reaching the wounded Soldier, McCloughan shouldered him and raced back to the company, saving his fellow Soldier from being captured or killed,” the U.S. Army noted in its report on why McCloughan received the honor.
In the U.S., military service animals are not awarded medals or other commemorations of their service, regardless of how brave or selfless their actions are.