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This is a question about the authenticity of a recording and of its associated reporting.

This source (New York Observer in 2016) reported Hillary Clinton as saying on September 5, 2006, to Eli Chomsky of Jewish Press:

I do not think we should have pushed for an election in the Palestinian territories. I think that was a big mistake. And if we were going to push for an election, then we should have made sure that we did something to determine who was going to win.

That statement is said to have been recorded on an analog cassette player and not released or used by the journalist for 10 years. A ("cleaned up") version of the recording is available at youtube.

There are some circumstances that make me hesitate about the authenticity of the reporting and the extent of its bias.

  • The info was held back by the journalist for 10 years - he says.
  • The info was weaponized in the 2016 presidential campaign (between Clinton and Trump).
  • The info was eventually published by a newspaper owned by Trump's family.
  • Context from 2006 appears lost and "context" from 2016 added. It's unclear what she was responding to.
  • I can't find any version of the full 45-minute tape online that would be digitized but untruncated and undoctored. I don't know whether the tape was ever released in full and what the context of the quote was.
  • I can't readily find any evidence of Clinton commenting on her quoted statement after it was released in 2016. She surely would have been confronted at the time?

Is the quote authentic? What was the context (on the tape)?

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    "did something to determine who was going to win" could have been any number of things. See what the other Clinton did in relation to elections in Serbia. skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/53150/… Oct 13, 2023 at 14:29
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    And Bush "did something" but it was a bit belated and played into the hands of Hamas theguardian.com/world/2008/mar/04/usa.israelandthepalestinians Oct 13, 2023 at 14:36
  • I don't see anything about rigging an election – only about knowing who was likely to win (intel). But the quote is difficult to parse: Clinton first says is was a mistake to push for an election, and then what if they had pushed. It doesn't make sense to me. Oct 13, 2023 at 16:06
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    Several comments are right in bringing up a considerable semantic tension between the body and the title of my question and providing some interesting references (thanks). That title is also intentionally vague regarding who would be the party not doing whatever. I chose that title as a simplification of the question body in the spirit of the tone of the NYO article - while adding a question mark. Oct 13, 2023 at 19:00
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    ... or how (US Congress praised) elections work in Jordan brookings.edu/articles/… Oct 23, 2023 at 23:35

2 Answers 2

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Not a full verification of the quote, but:

  • Another recording of this is played on this segment of The Real News Network, a non-profit, online, Baltimore-based news/commentary outlet. The TRNN anchor says the segment was spoken in a conversation with editorial board of The Jewish Press.
  • The Jewish Press website does have that story with a much longer Q&A exchange (see below) so they stand by it. OTOH, the story says it's been "restored from archive" and it says that the text is "highlights" from the discussion, not the absolute full thing.

You could contact the site about this and report back...


Relevant quote from the Jewish Press conversation:

First, I don’t think we should have pushed for an election in the Palestinian territories. I think that was a big mistake. If we were going to push for an election, we should have made sure we did something to determine who was going to win instead of signing off on an electoral system that advantaged Hamas. That, to me, was a first step that led Hizbullah to [2006 Israel-Lebanon War].

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    The Jewish Press website answers all parts of my question. The journalist's question was about Hezbollah. The Clinton quote was truncated by NYO mid sentence, omitting the focus of the sentence. TRNN uses the same truncation; now that I'm aware, I am even able to hear that the final full stop character given in the circulated transcriptions is actually a "comma" in the circulated recordings. I recognize that I can't get the absolute analog full thing and all circulating audio versions appear to have been intentionally truncated for effect. Other than that, the quote is authentic. Oct 14, 2023 at 20:35
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Yes, the quote is authentic. This is the archived page (saved on 27 Oct 2006) - Exclusive: Hillary Clinton On Israel, Iraq And Terror - from jewishpress.com that published the interview on October 25, 2006 and the quote is from the following Q and A in the interview:

The Jewish Press: Israel recently concluded its war against Hizbullah in what many consider to be a stalemated position. How do you see things right now?

Sen. Clinton: First, I don't think we should have pushed for an election in the Palestinian territories. I think that was a big mistake. If we were going to push for an election, we should have made sure we did something to determine who was going to win instead of signing off on an electoral system that advantaged Hamas.

That, to me, was a first step that led Hizbullah to take the actions that it took [killing and kidnapping Israeli soldiers and firing missiles into Israeli population centers]. What has concerned me is that I don't think our or Israel's intelligence was very good at uncovering what Hizbullah had developed in the last six years.

Frankly, the American intelligence didn't know how dug in Hizbullah was, how many rockets they had, where they were going to be launched from and what the range was. I think, based on what I know, that a lot of damage was inflicted on Hizbullah's capacity. But that capacity is not destroyed and has not disappeared. Thus, Hizbullah, the Syrians and the Iranians have been emboldened.

This was a problem of situational awareness and about what we were up against. This is a longer-term issue for us and for Israel as we try to figure out how we're going to get a better grasp of what we're up against.

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