Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

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The Times has an assessment of Ariel Sharon's prognosis. And it is very, very bleak. The article notes that the blood thinners prescribed for Sharon's earlier stroke -- caused by a blood clot rather than a hemorrhage -- greatly complicate treating this second stroke. Because of the blood thinners, reports the Times, this second event is "likely to be devastating and nearly impossible to treat."

The author of the piece quotes Dr. Matthew E. Fink, chief of the Division of Stroke and Critical Care at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, as saying that in a case like Sharon's the "likelihood of death is greater than 80 percent."

A bit more information about this suggestion by Andrea Mitchell that Christiane Amanpour was among those snooped by one of the president's warrantless NSA wiretaps.

As discussed earlier, John Aravosis first caught the remark on an NBC transcript.

Later, the passage in question was edited out of the transcript at the MSNBC website.

Now TVNewser has a statement of explanation from NBC ...

Unfortunately this transcript was released prematurely. It was a topic on which we had not completed our reporting, and it was not broadcast on 'NBC Nightly News' nor on any other NBC News program. We removed that section of the transcript so that we may further continue our inquiry.

This actually sounds like what I suspected. She asked the question. But either they hadn't intended to release the question on the transcript or someone hadn't thought through the implications of doing so.

Just to refresh everyone's memory, this was the exchange from Mitchell's interview with James Risen ...

MITCHELL: Do you have any information about reporters being swept up in this net?

RISEN: No, I don't. It's not clear to me. That's one of the questions we'll have to look into the future. Were there abuses of this program or not? I don't know the answer to that

MITCHELL: You don't have any information, for instance, that a very prominent journalist, Christiane Amanpour, might have been eavesdropped upon?

RISEN: No, no I hadn't heard that.

Despite the fact that it's framed as a question, Mitchell inevitably becomes in some sense a fact witness for the underlying claim. She legitimizes the question and strongly suggests she has at least some evidence that it is true.

Okay, so someone at NBC screwed up. Mistakes happen. But the bell can't be unrung.

In their response NBC confirms that they not only were but are in fact continuing to investigate whether Amanpour was in fact a target of one of these 'wiretaps'.

Now, that really puts this into altogether different territory.

You wouldn't just pull this Amanpour story out of your hat (this is a family website). To be even remotely credible, a claim like that would have to come from within the government.

Wouldn't it? I know I'm speculating. But think about it: who would be able to make such a claim and have enough credibility to make a major news organization take the suggestion seriously?

I'm not completely certain I have the timeline right on this. But this late article from Ha'aretz says that Ariel Sharon was given a CT scan after the surgery to relieve bleeding in his brain was completed and that on the basis of that test he was taken back for further surgery. The latest from the Jerusalem Post was simply that surgery had been completed after six hours.

Late Update: Now the Jerusalem Post confirms and elaborates. The CT scan revealed additional areas of bleeding in the brain. Thus the return to the operating room.

What a guy ...

Pat Robertson says God is punishing Ariel Sharon for dividing the Land of Israel.

Count 'em: 17 recess appointments this evening from the president -- including a slew of cronies and hacks the president couldn't manage to get through a senate controlled by his own party. Here's the list just posted at the White House, which TPM Reader JW was kind enough to send us.

Crony all-nighter!

From Roll Call: "President Bush is expected to announce a list of recess appointments to a host of key federal positions as early as tonight or Thursday morning, including two controversial nominations that Democrats have attacked as patronage appointments for unqualified nominees."

Former senate staffer Tracy Henke and Julie Myers (wife of Michael Chertoff's chief of staff and niece of former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Richard Myers) are the names the article mentions. Both are in line for DHS appointments.

I shudder to think what the final story will be with this breaking news that Ariel Sharon suffered a "significant" stroke tonight in Jerusalem.

The latest word is that he has been rushed into surgery to alleviate "massive bleeding and [that he] was being transferred to an operating theater."

Needless to say, I'm no doctor. But 'significant' in this context sounds to me like a euphemism for 'major'. And coming right on the heels of a relatively minor stroke only weeks ago, that sounds very bad.

I won't speculate any more on the medical prognosis; but what is the fate of the recent tectonic shifts in Israeli politics -- Sharon's bolting of Likud in conjunction with the major shift in the direction of Labor Party -- if Sharon is no longer on the scene?

Late Update: These details don't change the basic story. But I just wanted to update this post by noting that Sharon did not fall ill in Jerusalem but rather at his ranch in the Negev. And he was driven by ambulance -- an hour long drive -- to University Hospital in Jerusalem. According to the sketchy reports contained in this late Ha'aretz article, his episode began with chest pains and later developed into paralysis of the lower body. The web headline in the Jerusalem Post as of 6:16 PM is: Sharon fighting for his life.

Haaretz: "Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was rushed into surgery at Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem late Wednesday night, after intra-cranial bleeding was detected, following what doctors described as a 'significant stroke.' There was no immediate assessment of the damage he may have suffered. Doctors said earlier that the prime minister was receiving breathing assistance as his condition was assessed."