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Hope Hodge Seck on the new Nat Geo doc on the 2021 withdrawal in Afghanistan


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Hugh Hewitt Show

June 10 2024


A Taliban revenge killing prompts questions, removal of an acclaimed documentary

National Geographic has pulled the Emmy-winning film “Retrograde” from its streaming platforms after criticism from veterans and inquiries from The Washington Post.
Manuel Roig-Franzia and Hope Hodge Seck
May 22, 2024

On a winter day not long ago, an Afghan man — a 21-year-old who’d once dazzled U.S. Special Forces with his ability to find roadside bombs — was stopped at a checkpoint by Taliban guards on his way to a bazaar.


His role aiding the Green Berets had been featured in an acclaimed National Geographic documentary, “Retrograde,” by director Matthew Heineman, which shows the man in a lingering close-up. Even more attention was drawn to him because he appears prominently in a clip from the documentary that rapidly spread through Afghanistan on TikTok in the weeks before he was captured.

Heineman and “Retrograde” producer Caitlin McNally made the decision to show close-ups of the man and other mine-clearers despite warnings from at least five people prior to “Retrograde’s” December 2022 debut on the National Geographic Channel and Hulu, according to Post interviews. Those people — three active-duty U.S. military personnel and two former Green Berets — said the scene in “Retrograde” would put the man and other Afghan contractors in the film in danger, warnings they issued at a time when hundreds of Taliban retribution killings of contractors and their families had already been documented.

After his release from Taliban custody, the interpreter said the man told him: “They showed me Retrogade Movie and said you have worked with foreign forces and also worked in the movie. … They found me through Retrograde Movie.”

His captors plunged his head below water, nearly drowning him. They punched and kicked him. They beat him with wooden sticks. More than two weeks later his family found him lying in the street outside their home, he told the interpreter. (A family friend who had direct contact with the man, as well as a second interpreter, confirmed the account of his capture, according to text messages with extraction advocates related to humanitarian efforts that were reviewed by The Post.) A doctor told him “my lung is not working.”

Within weeks he was dead


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