A member of the Obama administration suggested in a series of tweets that perhaps Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl felt compelled to abandon his post in Afghanistan five years ago because he couldn't bear to serve with the "psychopaths" in his unit.
“Here's the thing about Bergdahl and the Jump-to-Conclusions mats,” Brandon Friedman, a spokesman for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, tweeted late Wednesday. “What if his platoon was long on psychopaths and short on leadership?”
Friedman continued in this vein, suggesting that perhaps the soldiers who have come forward in recent weeks to accuse Bergdahl of misconduct are only doing so to get back at the 28-year-old Idahoan for deserting the unit out of protest of its leadership. Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban and held for five years before being released Saturday.
“What if [Bergdahl] grew disillusioned with what he saw, didn't trust his leadership, and walked off?” the Obama official asked. “Legal? No. Worthy of sympathy? Maybe.”
“If that were the case, the soldiers in his platoon would have all the more reason to smear him publicly now,” he added. “Given other examples, it’s not out of the realm of possibility–and more reason to withhold judgment until after an investigation.”
A former veteran who served in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2004, Friedman was vice chairman of the Democratic-aligned organization VoteVets before joining the Obama administration in 2009 as a public affairs officer in the Veterans Affairs Department.
“I’m not a fan of such speculation, but this story could not be more unbalanced–with so many premature calls of ‘traitor,’” he said in a final tweet.
Here’s a screen shot of Friedman’s Twitter thread:
Unsurprisingly, Friedman's suggestion was met with heavy criticism, which may be the reason that he decided Thursday morning to scrub his Twitter bio of all professional connections.
It used to read: "Former U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; author of The War I Always Wanted; Truman National Security Fellow; PR exec; Southerner. Washington, DC · brandonfriedman.tumblr.com/about."
Now Freidman's bio only mentions his Tumblr account, which contains much the same information as his bio pre-scrubbing.
Friedman's statements came on the heels of White House officials accusing Bergdahl's former comrades of "swift-boating" the former captive -- a derogatory term used by supporters of now-Secretary of State John Kerry to describe former members of his Vietnam War Swift Boat unit who questioned details of his service and opposed his Democratic presidential bid in 2004.
It's the latest sign that the Obama administration is trying to mute the backlash against Bergdahl by questioning the credibility of his critics.