Polonium found in three more London locations

posted at 7:35 pm on November 27, 2006 by Allahpundit

Including at the offices of Boris Berezovsky, the exiled Russian billionaire for whom Litvinenko apparently worked and who shared his hatred of Putin. A.J. Strata is in Jack Bauer mode, speculating that Berezovsky might have whacked Litvinenko to frame Putin and drive a wedge between Russia and the west (as if there wasn’t enough of one already) to serve his Chechen jihadist masters — and, furthermore, that the polonium might be part of some sort of nuclear terror plot. I … remain skeptical.

Strata asks an excellent question, though, which I’ve given some thought to myself:

What we need know is the order of visits to ascertain the sequence. If the contamination begins in the Sushi Bar, then did Italian consultant Scaramella give Litvinenko something contaminated? Or did the contamination begin ith the ex-KGB agents Litvinenko met at the Mayfair hotel bar? Or did it start at Berezovsky’s office.

Most of the early news reports placed Litvinenko’s meeting with the two Russian businessman in the morning sometime followed by an afternoon lunch with Mario Scaramella, the Italian “environmentalist” with a background in nuclear materials. Check out the Times of London’s graphic, though; they’ve got him meeting with Scaramella first, then the businessmen. That’s hugely significant since logically Litvinenko would have had to have been poisoned at his earliest meeting in order to drag the particles around town with him all day.

Note too that they’re not sure when he went to Berezovsky’s offices. Could have been early, could have been late. But if Berezovsky was going to assassinate him with something as lethal (and detectable) as polonium, would he really have done it in his own office?

Or did he do it in his own office precisely because he knew how unlikely that would seem and wanted to throw us off the trail? High intrigue!

Ace also asks a good question — namely, would the assassin have expected the doctors to discover that it was polonium that killed him? Because it’s so rare and hard to produce, its use points directly at the government of a nuclear state. Thus, if the assassin expected that it would be sniffed out as the cause of death, then it’s likely he/she used it to frame Putin. If he/she didn’t expect it, then it was probably used for reasons of potency. Given Litvinenko’s status and the potential for an international incident, the assassin must have known that the coroner would scrutinize the body minutely. So maybe the question is whether polonium had ever been used as a poison before, i.e., if there was an established medical protocol for detecting it. And we find…

“This is wild,” said Dr. F. Lee Cantrell, a toxicologist and director of the San Diego division of the California Poison Control System. “To my knowledge, it’s never been employed as a poison before. And it’s such an obscure thing. It’s not easy to get. That’s going to be something like the K.G.B. would have in some secret facility or something.”

In a quick search of medical journals, he could find only one article describing the deliberate use of a radioactive poison to kill. It was from 1994, he said, published in Russian.

So maybe no one was trying to frame Putin. Maybe he did it and sincerely thought he could get away with it.

Exit question: if this is enough to cause a public health scare in London, what would a dirty-bomb attack be like?


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what would a dirty-bomb attack be like?

Fear mongering as usual. Typical of the VRWC ;)

lorien1973 on November 27, 2006 at 7:47 PM

Why don’t you consider this a small scale dirty bomb in itself? Surely the perps knew enough about this stuff that there would be traces left everywhere he went after the initial contamination.

bbz123 on November 27, 2006 at 7:50 PM

And a Russian billionaire is in a coma today after a car accident. Suuuure; that’s what happened. That’s he is part of the opposition party shouldn’t be too relevant. I know. I know ;)

lorien1973 on November 27, 2006 at 8:07 PM

I’m leaning toward the suicide-as-Islamic-martyr theory. Litvinenko lingered for three weeks before pointing directly at Putin. He must have had a pretty clear idea of who actually slipped it to him, yet mentions no one else. I know the usual martyrdom mission is quick, but if the goal is gathering a media circus, he might do it slowly and in such a bizarre fashion. (Also, he’s Russian, not Arab … )

laelaps on November 27, 2006 at 8:35 PM

Everything that I have read says that the body would recognize Polonium 10 as a destructive foriegn agent and would do everything in its power to rid itself of it; via urine, feces or presperation. Therefore virtually anything that he touched, any place he went to the bathroom etc. would test positive for Polonium. I wish Scotland Yard well with this investigation but I fear it will be long and very difficult.

NEMETI IN SYRACUSE on November 27, 2006 at 8:46 PM

Where’s Poirot when you need him?

insomni on November 27, 2006 at 8:54 PM

It’s entirely possible that Putin had his buddies in Tehran do it. Iran has been producing polonium 210 by irradiating Bismuth metal for over a year (although they still deny the allegation).

Buzzy on November 27, 2006 at 10:03 PM

I don’t see why the American President could not have served notice on the enemies of the liberal democracies by rescinding Executive Order 12333 on September 12, 2001. Here’s another opportunity to use an event as just cause to undo what should never have been done in the first place. For if one cannot be both loved and feared, it is better to be feared, inasmuch as others choose whether to love you, but you choose whether they fear you.

Kralizec on November 27, 2006 at 10:26 PM

I wish I could send several of y’all an Occam’s Razors for an early Christmas gift.

LegendHasIt on November 27, 2006 at 10:47 PM

I think whoever poisoned Litvinenko didn’t expect the doctors to realize it was polonium. They probably thought the doctors would be stumped…if they wanted the world to know exactly how Litvinenko had been killed, why not use a well-known poison (or simply whack him in a dark alley?). that’s just my guess

Yossarian on November 27, 2006 at 11:26 PM

Everything you wanted to know about polonium-210 can be found at The Autopsy.

Nethicus on November 27, 2006 at 11:43 PM

I think Berezovsky is guilty as hell. We’ll see what is revealed … whilst I don’t trust British media and politicians, I do believe the police have some integrity left. If Berezovsky is found guilty it will be a terrible indictment on the anti-Russian British press, and their tendency to jump to conclusions as far as Putin is concerned. Berezovsky is, in my view, far more likely to commit such a crime than Putin. He is a crooked criminal who is sheltered by the West, whilst he supports Islamic terrorism.

MoonbatMedia on November 28, 2006 at 7:12 AM

It’s interesting how this case has losed headline status at BBC, with immediate effect, when evidence pointed to Berezovsky. Expect no wild accusations where Berezovsky is concerned — instead, the BBC may well manage to turn around even this reality in order to continue throwing mud at Putin.

MoonbatMedia on November 28, 2006 at 9:06 AM

Yossarian said:”I think whoever poisoned Litvinenko didn’t expect the doctors to realize it was polonium.”

That’s probably not accurate. There’s a good probability that they would take x-rays to help with diagnosis/autopsy. Either way, if he’s scattering detectable amounts throughout his trip around down, it would also expose the x-ray film with odd patterns. They would know something radioactive was involved and start looking from there. Also, urine would probably excrete it quickly and it would show up in gas chromatographic tests.

Catseye on November 28, 2006 at 5:21 PM

Vizzini: But it’s so simple! All I have to do is divine from what I know of you. Are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own goblet, or his enemy’s? Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I’m not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool; you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.

Kevin on November 28, 2006 at 6:33 PM