WASHINGTON — An official at the department of Housing And Urban Development apologized Thursday to service members and the Obama administration after his tweets suggesting there could be questions about the military records of former platoon mates of Bowe Bergdahl came under criticism.
"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," said Brandon Friedman, deputy assistant secretary of public affairs at HUD. "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."
In a series of tweets Wednesday night, Friedman called growing dismissal of Bergdahl as a "traitor" by some administration critics as "premature." He then went on to suggest that some who served with Bergdahl and are now criticizing him in the media could be trying to cover up their own failings.
"Here's the thing about Bergdahl and the Jump-to-Conclusions mats," Friedman tweeted. "What if his platoon was long on psychopaths and short on leadership?"
Friedman said that kind of wording was inappropriate Thursday and did not reflect the views of the administration.
"I'd like to clarify tweets I wrote last night on my personal Twitter account concerning the return of Bowe Bergdahl. First, I do not speak for the administration on national security issues in any capacity — public or personal," he said. "As a former infantry officer and combat veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, I have only the highest regard for our servicemen and women. They are my friends, my colleagues, my mentors, my brothers, and sisters."
Friedman has a long and decorated military history as well as years as an expert on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and an advocate for veterans. He served as a platoon leader in the Army's 101st Airborne on combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. A source familiar with his background noted he received two bronze stars for his combat service.
Before joining HUD, Friedman was a top official at VoteVets, a veterans' organization that has supported President Obama in the past. Friedman also served as a high-ranking official in the Veteran's Affairs administration in Obama's first term. He is the author of The War I Always Wanted, a well-received memoir that drew praise in military circles.
Evan McMorris-Santoro is the White House correspondent for BuzzFeed News.
Contact Evan McMorris-Santoro at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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