“Do not use political terms such as democracy/elections/freedom,” Saleha Abedin advised daughter Huma Abedin, in reference to a planned speech that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was going to deliver in 2010 at Dar Al Hekema, a women’s university in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Huma Abedin was a top aide to Clinton at the time, while her mother is an Islamist activist who teaches at Dar Al Hekema.
Clinton wound up not using any of the terms that Saleha Abedin suggested be deleted from the speech.
The incident is among the revelations from the latest Hillary Clinton e-mails obtained by Judicial Watch late last week. Judicial Watch was forced to sue the State Department for the e-mails of Clinton and her aides, including Huma Abedin. The State Department had argued that there was nothing of “public interest” in the e-mails. Clinton’s e-mails became a major issue during the 2016 presidential election campaign, with some of the revelations so damaging to Clinton’s presidential hopes she and her allies in the media began charging that the Trump campaign had colluded with the Russians to hack into her computers. Clinton deleted thousands of e-mails, so we may never know just how damaging to her reputation other deleted e-mails may have been.
But even those e-mails that are still available, such as those released by Judicial Watch, give us an idea of how Clinton made decisions on what to say in Saudi Arabia.
When Clinton was going to speak at the women’s university in Saudi Arabia, her aide Huma Abedin asked her mother, Saleha Abedin, to review the speech and offer suggestions.
After reading the speech, her mother responded in an e-mail, “This document needs major edits and corrections.” She told her daughter that certain terms such as “freedom” and “empowerment of women” needed to be cut out of the talk.
“Do not even mention driving for women!” she added.
“Don’t sound sympathetic to ‘women’s plight’ or be ‘patronizing’ as other visitors have done and made the students extremely annoyed. They rightly consider these as in-house issues.”
The e-mail exchange concerning Clinton’s 2010 talk in Saudi Arabia was among 1,617 documents released as a result of Judicial Watch’s successful lawsuit against the State Department.
Just who is Saleha Abedin? She is a lecturer in sociology at the women’s college in Jeddah. She is also editor-in-chief for the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. Daughter Huma, still a close confidant of Hillary Clinton, also wrote for the magazine at one time.
This e-mail exchange raises questions as to the sincerity of Hillary Clinton’s devotion to “women’s rights.” In 1995, at the United Nations women’s conference in Beijing, Clinton famously asserted, “Women’s rights are human rights.” Much of her 2016 presidential campaign was based on the possibility that she was going to “break the glass ceiling,” and become the first woman to serve as president of the United States.
Even before the release of these e-mails, however, some have expressed skepticism of just how principled she was in regard to the rights of women. It is well-known that she publicly defended her husband despite his problems with Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, and other women who accused Bill Clinton of either sexual harassment or even outright rape.
In one way, Clinton’s deference to the sensitivities of the Saudis is quite in line with long-standing U.S. government deference to the Saudi royal family, going back decades, and involving both political parties. For example, President Franklin Roosevelt even took the time to visit with Saudi King Ibn Saud in February 1945 on his way back from the wartime Yalta Conference. While the American government has been very favorable to the Saudi regime, despite its oppressive dictatorship, it has been very hostile to the Saudis' enemy, Iran.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said that some of the other e-mails indicate that the Justice Department investigation into Hillary Clinton should be re-opened. “It’s there in black and white. And I don’t understand why the Justice Department hasn’t gotten its act together and reinitiated an investigation as to what went on here. Because we all know [FBI Director James] Comey’s investigation was a sham. They need to restart it up.”
Clinton, for her part, continues to dismiss such claims. In her new book, What Happened, she calls the e-mail investigations “an even dumber scandal.”
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