WASHINGTON – An Obama administration official apologized Thursday after suggesting on Twitter that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s platoon might have been filled with “psychopaths” – in an apparent attempt to defend Bergdahl against criticism from his fellow soldiers.
Brandon Friedman, deputy assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, sent out a series of tweets Wednesday night questioning those soldiers trying to “smear” Bergdahl for abandoning his post in 2009.
The first said: “Here's the thing about Bergdahl and the Jump-to-Conclusions mats: What if his platoon was long on psychopaths and short on leadership?”
He went on to argue that Bergdahl might have grown “disillusioned” with leadership and walked off – and that this might give those who served with him “reason to smear him publicly now.”
The tweets quickly caught attention in the media, as others in the administration also have taken swipes at the soldiers who have questioned Bergdahl’s conduct.
The press office for HUD sent out a statement attributed to Friedman Thursday afternoon, in which he backed off the tweets.
"I’d like to clarify tweets I wrote last night on my personal Twitter account concerning the return of Bowe Bergdahl,” Friedman, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, said in the statement. “First, I do not speak for the Administration on national security issues in any capacity—public or personal.”
Citing his service, he said he has the “highest regard” for fellow service-members.
“While I just wanted to make the point that the public should wait before passing judgment, I unfortunately used my own poor judgment in choosing inappropriate language that many view as disparaging to U.S. service members,” Friedman said. “That was certainly not my intent and I regret making the comments on my personal account in such a way. I apologize to those with whom I work in the Administration, at HUD, and, most importantly, to any service members who took offense.”
Several of Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers have spoken out since the administration announced over the weekend that his freedom was secured, in exchange for the release of five Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo Bay.
Some in the administration have criticized those attacks – NBC reported that aides had even likened the criticism to “swift-boat” attacks, a reference to the battle in 2004 over then-presidential nominee John Kerry’s military service.