WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — An Obama administration official has taken issue with Americans’ immediate reactions and harsh criticisms of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s recent release from Taliban custody in exchange for five high-level members being held at Guantanamo Bay.

Brandon Friedman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, took to Twitter to write that Bergdahl should be judged after further investigation brings more facts to light, and asked that people consider his fellow soldiers – who have called him out for “desertion” – may be part of the problem.

In a series of tweets, Friedman – who served as an infantryman in the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other Middle Eastern countries in the early 2000s – said that the public’s “jump-to-conclusion” attitudes toward Bergdahl may be misguided.

“Here’s the thing about Bergdahl and the Jump-to-Conclusions mats: What if his platoon was long on psychopaths and short on leadership?” reads the first tweet.

“What if he grew disillusioned with what he say, didn’t trust his leadership, and walked off? Legal? No. Worthy of sympathy? Maybe,” he continued. “If that were the case, the soldiers in his platoon would have all the more reason to smear him publicly now.

“Given other examples, it’s not out of the realm of possibility – and more reason to withhold judgment until after an investigation,” he continued in his Twitter posts. “I’m not a fan of such speculation, but this story could not be more unbalanced – with so many premature calls of ‘traitor.’”

Responses poured in for Friedman’s posts, with many simply dismissing his claims altogether: The most-favorited, re-tweeted response to the post from @GeneCarithers reads: “That better describes this admin than American Soldiers.”

Friedman himself was awarded two Bronze Stars for his service in Afghanistan and Iraq, and is the author of “The War I Always Wanted,” which details his disillusionment with being a soldier in the Middle East conflicts. The Army Times called it, “One of the best military books of the decade.”


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