November 13, 2004


Secrecy by Aides and Silence by Doctors Persists, and What Killed Arafat Is Still a Mystery (ELISABETH ROSENTHAL, 11/12/04, International Herald Tribune)

Even after Yasir Arafat's death this morning, French health officials continued their stony silence about exactly what disease killed the Palestinian leader. And so the man who lived so much of his life simply and in the public eye, died mysteriously, surrounded by secrecy.

After two weeks, the medical databases at Percy military hospital in suburban Clamart must be crammed with information about Mr. Arafat's condition. Scans. Biopsies. Reams of blood test results that would have defined within minutes his kidney, liver and lung function. But those remain top secret.

The hospital officially announced Mr. Arafat's death in a terse statement delivered by a hospital spokesman, Gen. Christian Estripeau, who told reporters that there would be no details released on tests, the cause of death or whether there would be an autopsy. [...]

As their beloved leader's health deteriorated in the past two days, Mr. Arafat's aides announced only that he was in a deep coma on life support machines, having suffered a brain hemorrhage - a stroke caused by bleeding into the brain. But such a fatal event can have many underlying causes, and does not explain why Mr. Arafat's health had deteriorated so precipitously in the past month.

Strokes are generally sudden affairs, and Mr. Arafat's was almost certainly a secondary result of his underlying and undisclosed illness. At the time of his medical evacuation to Paris two weeks ago, aides disclosed that he was suffering from a low platelet count and had undergone a platelet transfusion. Since platelets are involved in blood clotting, patients with low counts are predisposed to brain hemorrhages, so Mr. Arafat's platelet count may have contributed to his death.

But low platelet counts in the blood are a common finding in a wide range of afflictions, including severe infections, liver disease, end stage cancer and even AIDS. And doctors made no mention of a hemorrhage until Thursday, suggesting that it was a recent event.

It's never made much sense that the Israelis let Arafat live, unless they mistakenly believed his secular radicalism was prefereable to the Islamic extremism that a replacement might adhere to. But now, to smooth the way for those who are following him in leadership, he should be outed and his reputation in the Arab world destroyed.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 13, 2004 8:02 AM

Why did Israel let him live? If they knew he had AIDS and was a goner, they could have decided that letting nature take its course was an easier way to be rid of him than shooting him and catching the blame for his death.

Now, of course, there's no downside to outing him.

Posted by: Mike Morley at November 13, 2004 10:46 AM

Arafat was allowed to live because American administrations from LBJ to the current one have ordered them to.

Posted by: Bart at November 13, 2004 11:12 AM


Do they seem preoccupied with their P.R.?

Posted by: oj at November 13, 2004 12:42 PM

Pictures, we want pictures!

Posted by: ratbert at November 13, 2004 11:54 PM

I wonder what you can catch from doing it with goats?

Posted by: Lou Gots at November 15, 2004 12:08 PM