Nov 30 2006

What Is Known Regarding The Litvinenko Incident

Major Update: BTW, this story has two plausible story lines because the driving assumption behind this media theory is that the only transport mechanism was bodily fluids from Litvinenko. If Litvinenko had particulate contamination on his body or clothes or whatever, all the evidence in the Hotel room would make Litvinenko the source of the contamination, which he passed onto the Russians he met in the Hotel Bar. This is what I mean by speculating beyond what we know. And what we need to know is what the timeline actually is, since now I am seeing reports that the Russian meeting at the Hotel preceded the Sushi Bar meeting with Scaramella. And we still have no placement of who contaminated Berezovsky’s offices – and when. Now we have reporting from the not so believable Independent that the Sushi Bar was the original site of poisoning – not the Hotel. Seems like the media has totally lost it on all these scientific and forensic details.

Major Update: OK, one more item to throw into the pot. We have more than one transport mechanism. One is Litvinenko himself. He could have transported it externally or internally. I think the evidence shows both with the contamination being from something on him instead coming out of him (bodily fluids – see #10 below). But authorities are now confirming the obvious – someone else was a second transporter of the contamination.

Security sources have told The Times that some of the 12 locations where traces of radioactivity have been found were never visited by Litvinenko. It is thought that an office at 58 Grosvenor Street and the Sheraton Park Lane hotel were used by one of three Russians understood to be key suspects in the investigation. Counter-terrorist detectives are tracing their movements. Special Branch officers have studied CCTV footage to spot them among passengers at Heathrow. The suspects also frequented some of the 12 other places that experts have examined but say are free of any traces of polonium-210.

Passenger seats on BA flights that the men are known to have travelled on in the past five weeks have shown exposure to radioactivity. Experts say it is unlikely that they will be able to say if the polonium-210 found on one jet was left there by a passenger travelling to London or on a return journey.

One possible set of candidates who transported the contamination are the Russians who met with Litvinenko in the Millenium Hotel. Scaramella is another candidate. As is whoever drove Litvinenko to the hospital. But there could be someone who, just like Litvinenko, was contaminated and did not know it – but did not ingest the Polonium-210 accidentally. This could be Berezovsky or anyone with Litvinenko when he was contaminated. - end update

This was a comment to a previous post I decided to make into a post since it establishes some framework that must be adhered to in any speculation. The truth is the media reporting is contradictory with evidence and common sense. The following are elements that must be consistent with any theories or ideas.

First off, there are no traces of contamination prior to the Sushi Bar yet (with the exception of Berezovsky’s offices which may or may not be prior to the Sushi Bar). That means there is not evidence of contamination traces coming into the UK – yet. We know from the Sushi Bar and the Millenium Hotel Bar (and Berezovsy’s office) that contamination was travelling external to Litvinenko’s body. Either through bodily fluids or particulate contamination from the moment he came into contact with the Polonium. Or both.

Timing is everything an you cannot violate the science to come up with theories. So here are the things that must fit into the timelines:

(1) Option 1 is particulate contamination which means the trail starts the minute the carrier moves and the particles start dropping like bread crumbs. The more sites the more bread crumbs required at the point of contamination. This puts physical contamination beginning with the initial contact.

(2) Option 2 is the ingestion of Polonium without any external particulate contamination. This means the only way to contaminate a location is for the Polonium to spend two hours traveling through the body until it starts ‘leaking’ through some bodily fluid. This would put physical contamination 2 hours after contact. Note that bodily fluid transfer could come with DNA material for identifying the carrier.

(3) Option 3 is a combination of 1 and 2. This is where early contamination is purely particulate until the Polonium in the body begins to seap out. Now you get particulate and bodily fluid transfers. This combination could be all Litvinenko or Litvinenko creating the bodily fluid trail and someone else creating the particulate trail.

(4) Forensics will know which site had which form of contamination.

(5) No one who contacted Livtvinenko ingested the Polonium in their body (all clear of contamination so far). However, these people could become a secondary tansfer mechanism by either getting particulate or bodily fluid contamination from Litvinenko.

(6) It is clear one or more of the Russians Litvinenko met in the Millenium Hotel (after the Sushi Bar meeting with Scaramella) were contaminated externally by Litvinenko. This is obvious because Litvinenko was already contaminated before he got to the Millenium Hotel (Sush Bar and Berezovsky’s office visit both predate the Millenium Hotel meeting). The traces found in their rooms, their airplane seat and the overhead bin clearly show clothes picked up the contamination – most likely the jackets worn by the men and placed in the overhead compartments for flight. Contamination on a flight can only be clearly linked to the post contamination period after Nov 1. There MAY be an in-bound contamination, but there is no way to tell.

(7) The farther the contamination spreads the more source material was present during the initial contamination. We just don’t know if it was all ingested or a combination of ingested and particles on something external to Litvinenko.

(8) The particulate contamination may be from Litvinenko or not. Contamination from Litvinenko, even if passed on to someone else, should have some biological tag which could trace to Litvinenko (e.g., DNA).

(9) We need to know when the Berezovsky offices were contaminated. It happened either prior to or after the Sushi Bar event. It is clear they were contaminated prior to the Millenium Hotel meeting with the Russians. Timelines that put the Russian meeting as the first incident are in complete violation of the reported timeline.

(10) The bodily Fluid transmission method is highly UNLIKELY because of what we see at the hospitals – no contamination. Yes, the urine showed the Polonium. But no other traces from the sweat, saliva, etc showed up. This tells me the dose ingested was not large enough to seap far from the stomach and intestines. Also, the internal damage was not systmec. If the radiation was seaping through out the body we would have seen external signs of damage in the pictures of Litvinenko (swollen eyes, etc). But we did not see radiation burning throghout his body. If the ingested dose was small, then the trail of exposure had to come from particles dropping off onto venues and people he contacted. This is key. I do not think from what I have seen right now in the distribution pattern that it shows the contamination trail coming from Litvinenko’s bodily fluids. That means there may be another pool of Polonium out there still.

Here is one scenario that fits all of this. Litvinenko and Berezovsky together get Polonium-210 on themselves externally. Berezovsky goes to his office and contaminates that area. Litvinenko goes off to meet Scaramella and at sometime that day accidentally ingests some of the contamination he has on him – poisoning himself accidentally. He continues to trail Polonium around all day, even into Zayakev’s car which is how Litvinenko is taken to the first hospital. Question: what happened to the contamination on Litvinenko? Did washing his clothes simply flush the Polonium into the sewer system?

People should have fun speculating, but if the theory violates any of these conditions then there should be a really good explanation as to why and some hard evidence to prove it. For example, there is no evidence or reporting showing any contamination on in bound flights. There is only the possibility of contamination on the outbound flight(s) of the Russians Litvinenko met at the Hotel. There is no indication the contamination happened on flights to Moscow or too/from some other city.

Another example: this Guardian story is all rumor and speculation and has no substantiating evidence to makethe theory being proposed any more probable than any other scenario that excludes Russian agents. Until we have something that clearly tips the story down one path or the other it makes no sense to buy into the media hysterics.

33 responses so far

33 Responses to “What Is Known Regarding The Litvinenko Incident”

  1. jerry says:

    Clarice, of course I’m not a spy or “assassination technology scientist” (I guess that’s what they call themselves), but…

    1) I haven’t believed the pill idea until your last post which suggests someone dropped the dose and picked it up again (I can just imagine that terrified scene, straight out of a comedy!), I thought a pill would just make dosing more difficult – it would be easy to see or feel in food, it’s also an extra unneccessary complexity when a spray or powder would do the trick.

    2) my only guess at administration has been that the Po210 was in the envelope with the documents Sasha recieved at the sushi bar, it would get on his hands and on his food if it was given to him while dining. My thought has been that the Po210 could even have been put in the envelope without Scaramella’s knowledge by a bad guy, but because he has no symptoms and apparently isn’t contaminated it seemed more likely he knew what not to touch. Note that Po210 particles would have this weird tendency to creep all over anything in the envelope as they break apart, I think of popcorn popping to imagine this.

    3) with the pill hypothesis it seems more likely that it was put in his soup at the restaurant, the kitchen staff must have seen something though, unless Scaramella was exceedingly clever.

    4) regardless of the method of administration there should be one locale where there is a very large amount of radioactivity – the stuff that didn’t make it between a container and his mouth. I suppose someone could have disposed of his soupbowl.

    5) the “trail” is caused by contaimination on his hands I’d say and not sweat, my bias was that this was due to the contaminated documents. Now it’s harder to imagine if everything was contained in his soup, so maybe there’s more to the sweat thing than I allow. If excretion through sweat is possible I’d say his home is glowing though, and this hasn’t been reported. I don’t imagine the trail like a spray painted line or anything, just hot spots connected by his travels that day.

    Sounds like the investigators are moving right along, too bad we have to wait for the details.

  2. jerry says:

    I’ll add that the reporting about contamination all over London, involving 33000 people, has seemed a little panicky, a little radiation hysteria. Might be a good drill for the public though, if ever a real dirty bomb incident took place the less panic the better.

  3. jerry says:

    Rambling on, some people have behaviors where they touch their mouth/lips when thinking deeply, or talking. If Sasha did this sort of thing then he could very easily be regularly contaminating his hands after drinking some Po210 soup, and readily contaminating people and objects he encountered.

    Another side story, I’d thought the pill idea originated when the doctors announced that there were “objects” in Sasha’a stomach based on X-ray photos, and one had “broken open” (immediately bringing to me thoughts of a drug mule). This observation was later discounted, the objects were said to be prussian blue – a chemical used to treat thallium poisoning, an earlier theory of what had happened, which would look solid on an X-ray. Don’t know what an autopsy will find, but it’s very hard to imagine Sasha unknowingly swallowing relatively large objects. I’ll go with the prussian blue explanation but I’ll adapt to new info.

  4. Lizarde1 says:

    “Clear traces of the radiation were found on the floor of a room, thought to be in the Millennium hotel in central London, the source said, as well as on a light switch in the same room. The traces were so strong that they indicated the actual source of the radiation was present”…….That room at the Millenium would be room 441 (an account of what went on there with the CSI was published yesterday by the person who was staying in the room next door) and I believe from other reporting and sheer speculation on my part that that room was a room stayed in by Lugovoy or one of his soccer going friends. In the Russian account above Lugovoy claims he brought his son to the meeting which only lasted 20 minutes and that L. drank or ate nothing – other reports say he had tea. The third member of Lugovoy’s group (unknown to L. by some reports) was said by the Russian article above to have already been in London before Lugovoy came so he may be the one who flew in on Oct. 25. All these guys I believe are back in Moscow. Of course none of this explains (unless the Millenium meeting happened earlier) how the traces of the stuff got to the Sushi bar and Boris B’s office…etc. since the Millenium meeting is alleged to have been at 4 pm. Awaiting further developments.

  5. Lizarde1 says:

    The Telegraph article implies the Millenium meeting was earlier than the Sushi bar: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;jsessionid=JIWCT0YRVE0LDQFIQMFCFFOAVCBQYIV0?xml=/news/2006/12/01/npoison01.xml
    on a side bar on that page which I seem unable to copy they list the Millenium meeting as the first meeting before the Sushi bar but do not say what time.

  6. jerry says:

    Ah, I’d missed that the bouncing pill room was at the Millenium. Yes, I’d thought that the three Russians must all have stayed there. So it might be that one of them at least knows something of the plot, even if a fourth person was involved in transporting the pill and dosing Sasha. It does sound like the British are on top of what flight and what seat the Po210 traveled in, maybe there’s still some uncertainty about who actually traveled. Pretty damned evil to dose Sasha and then go to a soccer match with him and his kid, eh?

  7. Lizarde1 says:

    I wonder what the “business meeting” with Lugovoy et al was all about -something to do with security allegedly. None of this is making sense regarding killing Litvinenko with polonium traceable to Moscow – I still wonder if this whole thing wasn’t something to do with black market dirty bomb stuff and Litvinenko wasn’t picking up the stuff himself from the 3 Russians and carrying it around for some unknown reason and hence contaminated himself – Remember Litvinenko was to meet the 3 Russians again the next day and called that night to cancel as he was sick.

  8. AJStrata says:

    Folks,

    The 3 Russians at the Millenium probably had nothing to do with the plot. They were the last ones to be contaminated by Litvinenko – not the first. The Sushi Bar and Berezovsky’s office were contaminated first, before the Russians met with Litvinenko. Recall the time line!

  9. AJStrata says:

    Lizarde,

    The soccer stadium makes sense to check becasuse the game was after the meeting with Litvienenko, after the contamination at the Millenium.

  10. AJStrata says:

    Clarice,

    I know the reporting is dodgy, that is why I don’t buy the assassination theory. I also know how radiation works and the human body can transport and react. I am not buying the assassination theory because so far nothing points to it and away from Litvinenko accidentally poisoning himslef in some balck market connection.

    A good investigation will develop the case to debunk a possibility as well as pursue the truth. The seat on the airline was reported to be Lugovoi’s or his associates return flight to Moscow seat. The other plane of interest that was Russian was cleared!

    The trail shows all the signs of Litvinenko dropping particles of Polonium-210 from his clothes or something. The idea he was seaping Polonium-210 from a high poison dose is thin to non existent. He did not show the physical signs and speedy demise of a massive dose thaqt could be the source for the trail. If the trail is particles from his clothing, then the assassination theory is bust and the accidental contamination (followed by an accidental ingestion) theory becomes very, very strong. This is not from the reporting – this is from my science background.

    I admit I may be wrong (look at my election predictions), but the evidence that is the basis of all this wild reporting paints a different picture.

  11. jerry says:

    AJ, what’s your explanation for the official’s story about the original Po210 dose being dropped in a room in the Millennium?

    It seems more sensible that the 3 Russians met Sasha at the Millenium because they were staying there than most other alternatives, of course we don’t have any hotel records to settle this. Given the high level of readiation in the room I’d say someone met there prior to the poisoning, which probably happened at the sushi bar.

    Other things that come to mind…. Why was anyone playing around with a polonium pill anyway, to dissolve it? Did Sasha stop by the hotel before the sushi bar and have tea? Who’s acting nervous when? Scaramella didn’ eat and acted nervous at the sushi bar (of course he’d already read the documents he gave Sasha), Sasha didn’t drink or eat at the Millenium with the three Russians (he’d now read the documents?). If at least one of the Russians knew of the plot he was surely the one sitting at the opposite end of the stadium.

  12. clarice says:

    Well, Scaramella did NOT eat at the sushi bar but still has some polonium ingestion. Perhaps he had some tea..

  13. Barbara says:

    What if Litvinenko met Zakorov in his car before the sushi bar and after he received the polonium or maybe borrowed his car to start with ? My theory is that all three of these guys were mixed up in something. There is still a 3 hour gap between the newspaper and the sushi bar. He could have gone several places and the polonium might not have started falling at the beginning. Which could kill the idea that he didn’t have the polonium before the newspaper. The polonium could have been in his pocket and that is why he got such a killing dose.since it contaminated his pocket and his hands went into his pocket. Goldfarb said Berezovsky took Litvinenko to the hospital. That should be easily proven. The reason there was no polonium in Bereskovsky’s car could have been because Litvinenko changed clothes after returning home and the polonium had already been transferred to another person anyway. What happened to the clothes he was wearing all day? If the police have them have they been tested

    Another question I have is why isn’t the British public up in arms about the cameras all over the place? You would think the liberal (of which there are many in Great Britain) would object to privacy violations. I’m not complaining myself. I think it is a good idea. But then I don’t care if anyone knows where I go or who I see.