Dec 01 2006

Now If it Was An Assassination Attempt On Litvinenko…

I have been exchanging emails with a very interesting person who agrees with Clarice Feldman and disagrees with me on whether this entire event was an assassination attempt or not. The reason this person is interesting is she is a well known liberal writer and, while disagree on the motivations, she and I agree on all the questionable reporting. Well this person just emailed me one of the best theories I have ever seen that explains HOW the Polonium-210 might have been delivered so as to kill and leave little trace, and to get Scaramella and Litvinenko and Berezovsky all at once.

The creator of this excellent theory is none other than Raw Story’s Larisa Alexandrovna, and she presents her theory here at her blog:

Now many people have argued that because this is so obvious, it could not have been Putin or FSB without Putin. But people fail over and over to grasp what I have already reported and believe given the people with whom I had talked: this was not meant to be traced, they thought they could get away with it. So, if you had something that you thought no one would be able to trace and you wanted to take out three very visible targets, would you not do it? Ah, exactly, FSB would do it, but they must have miscalculated on the dosages.

If Mario is not involved, but contaminated, what did he share with Alex and when? The same question applies to Alex’s wife. What was it, a cup? No, because Mario did not go home to visit Alex’s family.

How about this:

A cigarette. In fact, a cigarette would be an extremely powerful way to distribute the polonium via air, causing another to inhale it. But since the only people that would inhale for any real duration would be people in close proximity to the victim, it is certain to do the trick as smoking at most places is not allowed and also because in small vapor qualities it would not be necessarily lethal, so not too much of a danger to the British public, although somewhat of a danger if things went badly.

This a bit of brilliant thinking. I mentioned myself that if Litvinenko and Scaramella were exposed at the same time, an airborne agent would make sense with the lesser (more dispersed) dose for Scaramella. In the true sense of serendipity, I was sent an email a few days ago by blogger AJacksonian regarding an 1987 study regarding Polonium-210 found in Syrian cigarettes. At the time I dismissed this since Polonium-210 is a natural element and it can be found in lots of places – but the point is it can be hidden in cigarettes (I of course emailed this to Larrisa).

Now if we combine Larrisa’s theory on the delivery mechanism with reader Crosspatch’s notes that Polonium-210 would best be brought in disoved in an acid-salt (probably in crystal form since liquids can be dodgy these days on plays) we have enough pieces to put together a good scenario. The Polonium suspension is possible what spilled in the Millenium hotel. Once in a liquid form of sufficient density of Polonium it one would simply need a syringe to deposit some of the suspension down the center of a cigarette and there you go.

Now do I believe this is what happened? Nope. But it is the first good theory that shows a sophisticated assassination plan, not some half baked one. I do not think the air plane contamination can be explained this way. And cigarettes would not explain the contamination in the planes or the Hotel where the Russians where staying. But you have to admire the beauty of the concept!

217 responses so far

217 Responses to “Now If it Was An Assassination Attempt On Litvinenko…”

  1. clarice says:

    I don’t think so, ts.

    From the express piece re his “conversion”

    The shock admission came from his next-door neighbour, moderate Muslim and Chechen dissident Akhmed Zakayev, who revealed: “He was read to from the Koran the day before he died and told his wife that he wanted to be buried in accordance with Muslim tradition.”

    Despite the claim, a statement written by Litvinenko shortly before he died referred to “God”, not “Allah” and said he could hear the beating of angel’s wings, leading most people to infer he was a Christian.

    Last night his friend, London-based Russian emigre Vladimir Bokovsky said: “It is news to me. I don’t believe it. Why did he refer to God in his statement before his death and not Allah. I think this is misinformation.”

    As for his smuggling of nuke material–it was in 2000 and while he was in the service of the Russian FSB, not as a private person (same source):

    “Professor Scaramella, his Italian friend who suffered some polonium-210 contamination but is not showing signs of poisoning, has already said Litvinenko masterminded a secret shipment of radioactive material from Russia to Zurich in 2000.”

  2. crosspatch says:

    How about this one:

    Jihadis having obtained all the material they need to build their dirty bomb “demonstrate” their new capability by poisoning Litvinenko who now adopts a role not unlike that of a suicide bomber and goes to his death doing his “duty” by pointing the finger at Putin to the end and the secret of the real destination of the material dies with him.

  3. crosspatch says:

    I have often heard Muslims use God instead of Allah. No need to use the arabic, to them it is still the God of Abraham. Same God.

  4. clarice says:

    Still not buying–Niters.

  5. crosspatch says:

    I still see absolutely no evidence that Putin or official Russian security services were involved. They would have simply snatched him and he would have disappeared.

  6. crosspatch says:

    From Reuters:

    Italian Senator Paolo Guzzanti, who spoke to Scaramella by phone, said health officials had told Scaramella the dose of polonium he had received is usually fatal.

    “They also said so far, nobody could ever survive this poison, so it is very unlikely he could. But, if he doesn’t collapse in three months, there is a kind of hope … They said that every six months … the radioactivity decreases by half,” he told Reuters.

    Scaramella, a KGB expert, met Litvinenko at a London sushi restaurant on November 1, the day the Russian fell ill, to show him e-mails from a source warning their lives might be in danger.

    Officials said a female relative of Litvinenko — reported to be his widow Marina — also had traces of polonium 210 in her urine. They said she was not in short-term danger and any long-term risk was likely to be small.

    What is interesting here is that his wife was not only contaminated, but had it in her urine which means she also somehow ingested the stuff. Even though her dose is apparently very low, it somehow got into her system and is being eliminated.

  7. sbd says:

    Not sure if this fits into the story, but it sure is interesting. The Mitrokhin Committee is the committee that Mario Scaramella was a member of. Mitrokhin defected in 1992 and apparently worked at the USSR document archives. He was smugled out of Russia by the English Intelligence Service along with a very large quantity of documents that were put together into several volumes.


    April 19, 2003

    ACC-NO: A20030419148-4631-GNW

    LENGTH: 1008 words

    Source: La Stampa, Turin, in Italian 17 Apr 03 p 10


    Nicolo Pollari, the head of SISMI, Italy’s military intelligence service, has told parliament that a mole coukl be at work in Italy. This would be proven by a document found in Iraq detailing private talks between Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. The following is the text of a report by Francesco Grignetti: “The SISMI: Two conversations between the prime minister and Blair leaked” by Italian newspaper La Stampa on 17 April:

    Rome: With all appropriate caution, because the issue is a hot potato and it involves also a new friend of Italy such as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, SISMI Director Nicolo Pollari explained to the members of parliament on the intelligence services watchdog committee yesterday that our military secret service suspects that there is a mole at work supplying intelligence to the KGB’s heirs.

    This, since the hearing focused on the story of secret documents that a journalist with British daily The Daily Telegraph discovered in Baghdad.

    The first item of information that Pollari supplied: The document exists and it is genuine.

    The second item of information: That document contains not one but two conversations between Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

    The third item of information: The possibility that the conversations were eavesdropped can be ruled out. Rather, it is likely that someone has been disclosing confidential information: someone who may have been doing this “dirty work” for quite some time.

    Indeed it recently emerged in the course of a hearing held by the Mitrokhin Committee investigating any KGB spies in Italy that the SISMI has been trying to catch a disloyal employee for the past 10 years. The mole even has a code name: Il Verme The Worm . He used to work for the KGB, but since the SISMI suspects that there has been no break in continuity, the mole is continuing to work for Moscow even today.

    This story has all the makings of a traditional spy thriller: a double agent “passing” information to the enemy. Has he been in action on this occasion too? Pollari was not prepared to stick his neck out. Indeed some of the committee members reached the conclusion that the affair may be less riveting than it seems. “An investigation will be conducted, of course, but there is not that much to be worried about,” Forza Italia Senator Pasquale Giuliano, the COPACO’s parliamentary intelligence services watchdog committee deputy chairman, said.

    “It is a very serious matter, but we have been given reassuring information about it” Daisy Party member and former Italian Interior Minister Enzo Bianco, the watchdog’s chairman, said. He went on: “We asked how there could possibly have been any link between the Russian and Iraqi intelligence services, and we asked also for information, in this specific instance, regarding the vulnerability of such a confidential conversation as the one between Blair and Berlusconi.

    But the deductions that Pollari shared with us have reassured us to some extent.”

    The former interior minister calls them deductions. What Pollari explained was that the document discovered in the ruins of a building belonging to the Iraqi secret services provided a reconstruction of conversations between the two prime ministers that may have been private but that were not as secret as all that: They were words of which many of those officially involved may have been aware – but nothing that ever ended up in the press.

    Readers will recall that the Iraqi document is dated 5 March 2002. It refers to a bilateral meeting in the previous February: It is bizarre to note that, according to the Iraqi spies, Blair is said to have told Berlusconi in confidence that he was opposed to proceeding against Iraq until the situation in Afghanistan had been stabilized. The British prime minister actually came across as far more bellicose at the ensuing news conference: “We could have attacked as long ago as last summer,” he said, “but Bush chose to wait.”

    In short, the spectre of a traitor is giving the SISMI cause for concern. The first person to raise the issue was Admiral Guise Grignolo, a former aide of deceased former SISMI Director Admiral Stelio Martini. Grignolo told astonished Mitrokhin Committee members that our 007s have been on the “Worm’s” trail for at least 10 years; and that Colonel Bonaventura, a SISMI functionary who died suddenly only days before a parliamentary hearing, was the man tasked with exposing him.

    DS Italian Democrats of the Left, formerly Italian Communist Party (PCI) Senator Massimo Brutti remarked: “The story of an Italian agent acting as one of the Soviets’ ‘sources,’ as revealed to the Mitrokhin Committee by Admiral Grignolo, is astonishing. It is extraordinary that such an old functionary should reveal such a serious matter. The committee must address the issue at once.”

    Forza Italia member Fabrizio Cicchitto Forza Italia deputy floor leader in the Chamber of Deputies replied in a moderately polemical vein: “I can understand that some people may be irritated by the fact that the huge amount of espionage work done in our country by the KGB and later on, after a pause from 1991 to 1992, also by the SVR Russian Foreign Intelligence Service is starting to be exposed.

    “I recall that Admiral Grignolo replied to the questions put to him by the parliamentary committee and so he had to tell the committee everything that he knew. I hope that no conflict will emerge between the Mitrokhin Committee and the COPACO.” In addition to the “Blues'” Forza Italia colour deputy floor leader’s remark, AN National Alliance member Enzo Fragala had this to say: “Is the story of an Italian agent working as a ‘mole’ for the Soviets, as revealed to the Mitrokhin Committee by the admiral, really so surprising? The only truly surprising thing is the inertia both of the COPACO, which is currently headed up by members of the opposition, and of our intelligence services brass.”

    Source: La Stampa, Turin, in Italian 17 Apr 03 p 10


  8. Lizarde1 says:

    well it was a crummy time for the power to go out so I have missed all the developments but I knew I just knew Lugovoy had to be contaiminated. Catching up will take a while

  9. Lizarde1 says:

    from the Times article it looks like somehow Lugovoy brought the stuff in early on Oct. 25 where it stayed with whom? Then it was dropped off again with him on the 28th at the Park Lane? Do I have that right? An interesting detail in the story was the reporter who claimed the police were trying to set up a surveillance team in Litvinenko’s neighborhood prior to all of this. Why?

  10. AJStrata says:


    The biological damage done by radiation is completely obvious, so there is no way Polonium is not ‘traceable’. This is another example of why this is not an assassination, since the dose was clearly ‘too high’ by orders of magnitude. If the required amount to kill is so very small, why was there so much material in London?

    Simple: because the required amount to deal with a nuclear dirty bomb or regular bomb is not very small at all. This is not an assassination attempt.

  11. clarice says:

    If you read the Times piece you will see how hard it was for the Brits to pinpoint what was killing him–And they have people trained to detect this stuff, AJ. They realized that it was radiation–but what kind.

    As to the amount being so large it
    rules out” an assassination , you are assuming that the assassins were sleek and wanted no one to which I say, Yevshenko–

  12. AJStrata says:


    I read what a reporter could grasp and write about radiation and medicine. What the Times can grasp and write is nothing compared to what is possible. In fact, the AWE did what any scientific group would have done under a suspicious threat like this – they worked the problem until they found it. I cannot go into it, but nuclear materials from reactors are highly traceable to the source. Anyone who knew about Polonium would know this too. Once radiation sickness showed up, it was only a matter of time before it was identified and traced.

    And no, you don’t have to be ”sleek” to spend the money it takes to garner what must be 400 times the necessary dose to kill, when you want to kill quietly. This stuff is bloody expensive and 400 times is overkill. And overkill means detection.

  13. clarice says:

    They didn’t figure it out until a day before he died. Once he died, it would have been harder to detect..and if he died and was buried without it being detected than it would break down and a later exhumation would yield nothing.

    In any event, it is entirely possible that Scaramella and Litvinenko were working on something so damaging–someone wanted not only to assassinate them but to send a message and didn’t care if it was traced back. Indeed, I see the old Soviet disinfo apparatus has cranked up again (Independent and others) muddying the waters..Whiehall by all RESPONSIBLE news accounts is not being distracted from the obvious.

  14. crosspatch says:

    They didn’t learn it was polonium until the day before he died but they knew they were dealing with a major alpha emitter before that. They had detected the alpha rays but had not isolated the polonium which isn’t really surprising when you take note of the tiny quantities involved.

    Remember when they were saying it was thallium? That was after they discovered alpha emissions but before they isolated polonium.

    The trouble with polonium is three fold. First there is the problem if actually isolating the material. It is hard to do because it tends to vaporize easily. This problem is compounded because secondly, it takes only a small amount to kill. Luckilly (for us) Litvinenko received what appears to be a massive dose. Enough to kill 100 people. Thirdly, because there is so little experiance with polonium poisoning, we don’t really have much information on how it is eliminated from the body. We don’t know at what rate it is eliminated, what it might bond to in the body, where it might accumulate, etc.

    Imagine if a killer wanted to kill someone with arsenic and managed to not only adminster 100 times the fatal dose to the target but also managed to contaminate themself, the people around the target, the places the target and those associates went, etc. It is just too sloppy to be the work of someone who does that stuff professionally. It was either accidental or Litvinenko’s own associates bumping him off and not realizing the danger they were placing themselves in.

  15. clarice says:

    With you until this:
    “It was either accidental or Litvinenko’s own associates bumping him off and not realizing the danger they were placing themselves in. ”

    It is equally possible that the assassins bungled this new technique.

    It is not unheard of for the Russians to use massive doses of poison on their oppenents.

  16. Doug says:

    I like these comments from the Belmont Club:

    M. Simon said…
    Let me see here.
    This Polonium stuff is good for a poison that leaves a trail.
    Normally poisoners don’t want a trail.
    Any way ricin is easier.
    So the answer is: the Russians poisoned the guy and wanted it known they did the job.

    Magic word: jzwra
    12/02/2006 07:54:29 PM

    Buddy Larsen said…
    exactimonte–deterrence & intimidation, best way is to tag the hit unmistakeably, and then smile like Alfred E. neumann, “What, Me Worry?”

    And Buddy posts some levity from Maggie’sFarm:
    o/t but a major digital breakthru reported @ maggie’s:

    Apple Computer reported today that it has developed computer chips
    that can store and play music inside women’s breasts.

    This is considered a major breakthrough because women are always complaining that men stare at their breasts instead of listening to them.
    12/03/2006 09:54:35 AM

    Drive By Blogger (a female) said…
    Featuring such timeless classics as “Puttin’ On The Titz”,”Thanks For The Mammory”, and of course, “These Boobs Were Made For Watchin'”
    12/03/2006 11:53:34 AM

  17. crosspatch says:

    Lets say for the sake of argument that you are right, Clarice. Why not just use ricin? It would send the same message and be a lot less sloppy and there would be no antidote. He would be just as dead. Or why not use any number of other poisons in their arsenal?

    I think the problem people are not fully appreciating is that any handling of polonium by anyone presents a risk of contamination. You are talking about potentially killing the killers. It is an absolutely insane poison to use particularly for a government to use where well end up killing an innocent foreign national. Polonium is the kind of thing that if used by a government can start a war when it is casually tossed around hotel rooms.

    They might as well have killed him with mortar fire on his house.

    Russia has dozens of much less dangerous poisons (less dangerous to their own people) that cost much less to use that are just as effective.

    I guess what it boils down to is that anyone using polonium for assasination is just plain stupid and the Russians might be a lot of things but they have never impressed me as being idiots.