Dec 03 2006
As many who read this site know, I have found the idea that Litvinenko was assassinated a bit far fetched. Most of my doubts surround the supposed weapon of choice: Polonium-210. Assassins would plan and determine their weapon of choice based on efficacy and risk. The underlying driver is to succeed and not get got.
Until Litvinenko, no one knew what would happen to a human contaminated with high doses of Polonium. At no matter what the process would be, it would be a slow process as all radiation exposure is. To bypass uncountable other methods and go with an untried substance is not the signature of a professional hit. Besides, Polonium is traceable to the source and no one can miss the signs of radiation poisoning in the body. Additionally, assassins would not want to have to smuggle their weapons in, preferring to ‘live off the land’ with something not traceable back to them. And if an assassin does smuggle a weapon in they would never smuggle it on themselves, but would send it an independent route so that it could never be tied to them if detected.
Finally, if it only takes a small amount to kill a human, why was there so much more material involved in this incident? Why was there orders of magnitude more Polonium-210 than would be the preferred dose for a silent killer (think of the level Scaramella was contaminated with)? Could it be because the amount required for a dirty bomb or nuclear trigger is so much more than needed to kill one person?
I have been of the mind that the Polonium was tied to some nuclear device or contraband. It would seem much more logical that the accident that killed Litvinenko was in relation to transporting an illegal substance. The Putin angle was just something Litvinenko and Berezovsky came up with – in case he did succumb to the contamination. That is why the PR firm was called in and the assassination claim only came out after Litvinenko died. Up until then there was no reason to go to the fall back plan where Litvinenko takes one last desparate swipe at Putin as he dies.
Now we see some reporting that supports this theory, possibly from sources associated with the government and aware of the investigation:
Scotland Yard detectives are now trying to discover if he had any secret links with Islamic extremist terror groups.
Their biggest fear is that the former Soviet spy, who died of polonium-210 poisoning in a London hospital, may have been helping Al Qaeda terrorists or other extremist groups get hold of radioactive material to be used in a devastating â€œdirtyâ€ atom bomb.
Litvinenkoâ€™s sympathies with Chechen rebels, seeking to break away from Moscow and create an independent Muslim state, are well known.
And when Chechen rebels were blamed for a massive bomb attack in 1999 that destroyed a Moscow block of flats with the loss of 400 lives, Litvinenko enraged Russian President Vladimir Putin with his claim that the Russian leader himself ordered the attack in a bid to damage the Chechen cause.
These wild claims by Litvinenko are akin to those strange people who believe Bush knew about 9-11 and not only let it happened so he could invade Iraq, but Cheney oversaw the positioning of demolition charges in the Twin Towers to bring them down. Those ridiculous claims about Bush and Cheney are as valid, without real proof, as Litvinenko’s claims regarding Putin and the apartment bombings in Russia in 1999. Litvinenko was as serious a threat to Putin as some of those wild-eyed conspiracists are to Bush – none whatsoever.
What is disturbing is that the investigation has moved to the US in some manner:
British officers, who are being assisted by the FBI, have interviewed ex-KGB officer Yuri Shvets in Virginia, the police official said. Shvets had claimed to have compiled a dossier on criminal charges made by Russian prosecutors against figures connected to the Yukos oil company.
Former Yukos shareholder Leonid Nevzlin, a Russian exile living in Israel, told The Associated Press last week that Litvinenko had given him a document related to the charges.
Nevzlin — charged by Russian prosecutors with organizing murders, fraud and tax evasion — claimed the inquiries may have provided a motive for the ex-spy’s murder.
Needless to say I am not thrilled this incident has moved to my backyard. One thing to note is one of the situations I predicted would come true has, apparently Lugovoi has tested positive for contamination as well.
The police were giving nothing away about the identity of their target. But The Sunday Times has established that a former Russian agent called Andrei Lugovoi, who was known to Litvinenko, stayed in the hotel in the days before November 1 and that he is â€” he says â€” significantly contaminated with polonium.
Lugovoi is no Putin ally. And, as I mentioned in my theory of what happened Lugovoi was on fairly good terms with Berezovsky as well. Something is definitely afoot, as MI5 has someone in custody (protective or otherwise) linked to the incident.
BRITAIN’S domestic security service MI5 has detained a man thought to have significant information about the apparent radiation death of Alexander Litvinenko, newspaper reports said yesterday.
The reports quoted an unnamed senior government source saying the man was taken into custody in east central England last week.
“MI5 don’t arrest people,” an unidentified security source said. “When people are detained by the security services it is because they have come forward to us to give us information.”
It is interesting that the ‘rogue’ element of this (black market in my mind) is becoming more prevalent as the evidence comes out.
Update: I am trying to catch up on all these reports and I missed something very important in the Sunday Times story regarding Lugovoi’s contamination:
Lugovoi has claimed: â€œTraces were found even on my children and on my wife. To think that I would handle the stuff and put them at risk is simply ludicrous.â€
Note that the contamination was found ‘on’ his family, not ‘in’ them. This would make sense if the material was ‘spilled’ someplace or on something and was then passed physically amongst the people. This, sadly, is what I expected to see from a bungled contraband effort – material everywhere since it was apparently unknown that the container was not sealed properly.
Update: Also note this fact which really kills off the assassination idea:
Polonium-210 of the quantity and purity used to kill Litvinenko is difficult to obtain, and cannot simply be ordered over the internet. The amount used, more than 100 times a lethal dose, implies it was obtained either from a reactor or in an unusually large commercial transaction that â€œwould have raised eyebrowsâ€.
As I mentioned above, if all you need is a small fraction to kill slowly and hope to stay undetected,what was so much Polonium-210 doing in London? If Litvinenko had 100 lethal doses in him, how many doses are there scattered around London and spilled at the Mayfair hotel? You need a lot of Polonium for a terrorsist scheme, not so much to kill one man.
Addendum: I should make sure to note that a smuggling effort would show multiple trails of Polonium entering the UK and possibly one or more trails exiting the UK. This is natural in the case where the smuggling is attempting to collect large amounts of something form numerous small smuggling actions. So as to not put all the risk on one act and to lower the chance of detection. An assassination effort would likely not show the same signature, but it could.