Possible (terrifying) break in Litvinenko case

posted at 9:33 pm on November 30, 2006 by Allahpundit

How does “rogue elements with access to Russian nuclear laboratories” grab you?

British intelligence sources increasingly suspect that Alexander Litvinenko, the former spy killed with a radioactive poison, was the victim of a plot involving “rogue elements” within the Russian state, the Guardian has learned.

While ruling out any official involvement by Vladimir Putin’s government, investigators believe that only those with access to state nuclear laboratories could have mounted such a sophisticated plot.

Police were last night closing in on a group of men who entered the UK among a large crowd of Muscovite football fans. The group of five or more arrived shortly before Mr Litvinenko fell ill and attended the CSK Moscow match against Arsenal at the Emirates stadium on November 1. They flew back shortly afterwards.

So when and where did these roguish rogues get to him? Believe it or not, a week after Litvinenko’s death and fully a month after he fell ill, the British papers still can’t agree on the basic sequence of events on November 1st. According to the Guardian:

It was reported that the levels of radiation were highest in the toilets of the Millennium Hotel in London, where Mr Litvinenko had a meeting shortly before falling ill. These levels were above the safe public dose limit, according to Channel 4 News. There were also traces at the Itsu sushi bar, where he went later, but they were far lower.

So they zapped him in the hotel and sent him on his merry way to the sushi bar, eh? Nope, says the Independent:

After retracing the route taken by Mr Litvinenko on the day he fell ill, anti-terrorist officers believe the ex-KGB agent was poisoned in or very close to the sushi bar in central London that he visited to meet an Italian contact on 1 November.

Detailed forensic analysis, including radiation testing, of the places Mr Litvinenko visited in the hours before he went to Itsu in Piccadilly have found no trace of radioactivity. This strongly suggests he was poisoned while in the restaurant, where traces of nuclear material were found…

Three Russian businessmen, employees of a security company in Moscow, who met Mr Litvinenko at a hotel after he had been to the sushi bar had yesterday gone to ground.

It’s understandable that they’d have a hard time nailing down the timeline. What’s not understandable is that they’ve been contradicting each other about it for at least five days now and yet neither the Guardian nor the Independent mentions any uncertainty here — despite the fact that their theory about where the poisoning happened, and thus who’s like to have done it, depends entirely on its own version of the timeline being correct. Bizarre.

I’ll leave you with some good news. Yes, it’s true that polonium is available for sale over the Internet at $69 per sample. But there’s a catch.

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Ok, so Putin and Osama have the cash for this, but there’s cheaper ways to wack a person. Of course making the guy suffer for weeks and making a dramatic point…priceless.

Iblis on November 30, 2006 at 9:41 PM

Rainbow Six, where are you?

Zorro on November 30, 2006 at 9:43 PM

Is it so hard to believe that 1 million Islamofascists would each buy a tiny amount of polonium 210 and …. oh never mind.

Buzzy on November 30, 2006 at 9:46 PM

The Democrats will protect us, who cares.

Go back to worrying about financing on a frickin Prius.

benrand on November 30, 2006 at 9:53 PM

How about this? He was a terrorist who unleashed this stuff and just happened to ingest it himself. He says it was ‘them’ poisoning him, and while we look for ‘them’, he has gotten away with releasing that stuff [Polonium].

The argument though is, well, why isn’t more area affected by the material if he was unleashing it to do a lot of harm. Why not release it in a subway or something?

Well ok, then maybe my first statement isn’t so good after all.

johnnyU on November 30, 2006 at 10:00 PM

Just lovely.

(Although I strongly suspect “rogue agents” is just a case of pre-planned “plausible deniability”.)

Spiny Norman on November 30, 2006 at 10:03 PM

Ah, “rogue elements, rather.

Spiny Norman on November 30, 2006 at 10:05 PM

What about agents working for Putin, but not taking orders from Puting. “They just know what to do” No different than Islamo_terrorists don’t have to attend meeting with Ossama, they just know what to do.

StuLongIsland on November 30, 2006 at 10:09 PM

How does “rogue elements with access to Russian nuclear laboratories” grab you?

I don’t know, kind of like a Catholic Priest. ZING!

RightWinged on November 30, 2006 at 10:19 PM

Is it so hard to believe that 1 million Islamofascists would each buy a tiny amount of polonium 210 and …. oh never mind.

Yikes. Thanks for the nightmares, Buzzy.

I’m beginning to doubt whether there will be another election in Russia. At least another fair one. Putin is the strongman they’ve been waiting for, and he gives just enough of a taste of democracy to be acceptable to the Russian people.

Slublog on November 30, 2006 at 10:19 PM

How do we know this isn’t related to the Airline plots that were broken up over the summer? I’ve read reports that the spy was most likely infected by a mist from a spray bottle, a small mist. And now their are airplanes with traces. I wonder if the polonium was in a water bottle or in the checked baggage? Questions.

Melba Toast on November 30, 2006 at 10:23 PM

How the heck are they ruling out direct involvement of Putin and henchmen? Too embarassing if they didn’t?

Clark1 on November 30, 2006 at 10:24 PM

This is what I find puzzling:

It was reported that the levels of radiation were highest in the toilets of the Millennium Hotel in London, where Mr Litvinenko had a meeting shortly before falling ill.

Why did they have a meeting in the toilets of the Millennium Hotel?

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on November 30, 2006 at 10:34 PM

“Will no one rid me of these meddlesome pests”

Personally I believe that he gave direct orders and facilitated the acquisition of the Polonium, but I’m sure that there are plenty of ‘Reginald Fitzurse’s, Hugh de Moreville’s, William de Tracy’s, and Richard le Breton’s’ around Putin willing to do it without direct orders.

LegendHasIt on November 30, 2006 at 10:45 PM

British intelligence sources increasingly suspect that Alexander Litvinenko, the former spy killed with a radioactive poison, was the victim of a plot involving “rogue elements” within the Russian state, the Guardian has learned.

Like Spiney Norman, I suspect this is just to avoid all the… unpleasantness that would ensue from accusing the Russian government of poisoning people in Britan.

Because then you would have to do things like…recall ambassadors, set up international investigations like the Lebanese are doing to the Syrians, possible criminal charges filed against Russian officials…

Naw. Rouge elements is much safer.

EFG on November 30, 2006 at 10:58 PM

Rainbow Six, where are you?

Las Vegas?

CT on November 30, 2006 at 11:04 PM

I just can’t get my head around why anyone would go through the trouble of poisoning someone with such a traceable and rare toxin. It just seems like so much effort for so sloppy a murder.

Hack Ptui on November 30, 2006 at 11:14 PM

Rogue elements of the Russian government, eh? That kinda reminds me of a line from that Metallica song: ‘There ain’t no heroes here.’

Anyway, I still think it was Putin. If he didn’t explicitly order it, someone did it on his behalf.

Wolfman on November 30, 2006 at 11:16 PM

How long would it take for people to have signs of radiation sickness? From the traces they’ve found at various areas i mean.

Scot on December 1, 2006 at 12:10 AM

When is the other shoe going to drop? It makes no sense to kill just one person with dirty bomb the size of a spritzer. They could be checking dosage, or they could be generating public anxiety in advance of a massive extortion scheme, or both.

pedestrian on December 1, 2006 at 12:19 AM

Because then you would have to do things like…recall ambassadors, set up international investigations like the Lebanese are doing to the Syrians, possible criminal charges filed against Russian officials…

Naw. Rouge elements is much safer.

EFG on November 30, 2006 at 10:58 PM

Yes, calling it a “plot involving rogue elements” will make things much easier to clean up. My guess is that there are many phone calls going back and forth between London and Moscow (with a lot of yelling involved) at this time. The Soviets Russians want all of this to just go away, quickly.

Rick on December 1, 2006 at 12:26 AM

What use would this have at such small levels that someone would actually buy it off the internet … and, why are they allowed to sell it at all?

Does anyone know the answer to this?

Gregor on December 1, 2006 at 12:28 AM

How long would it take for people to have signs of radiation sickness? From the traces they’ve found at various areas i mean.

Scot on December 1, 2006 at 12:10 AM

Well, I can’t say for sure. But for what it is worth, here are my thoughts.

I suspect that this poisoning that killed Litvinenko could be a screw up. From what it looks like, this poison was of a high enough dose as to cause him to become sick almost immediately, and then die after some weeks. So he probably got a high dose. Too high of a dose.

I am speculating that it would probably be better to give a much lower dose of this radiation. Because I think the radiation would just hang arround in your system and would then cause some nasty incurable fast-spreading cancer to develope, and the victem dies of cancer in a few months to a year. And I think this would be much tougher to pin on a state.

Heck, the guy just developed cancer. It happens.

Again, this is just speculation on my part. But if I were a head of state or a “rogue” element of a government, I would much prefer the slower acting poison method. The guy is just as dead, and it will be almost impossible to trace.

Which is why when people start speculating as to why the Russians would use something that seems to point right back at them, I guess that the person who delivered the poison screwed up and delivered to large of a dose. And that might explain why this guy who couldn’t administer the right dose also managed to leave traces of the Polonimu 210 all over the place. Cuz if he can’t administer the right dose to the sushi/tea/whatever, perhaps he screwed up the transportation of the toxin as well.

Yeah, we say the KGB would never make a mistake like that. I don’t know. Screw ups and mistakes are a fact of life. Human nature being what it is, give people enough time and they will find a way to screw things up.

Or maybe this “assassin” was just an example of the Peter Principle.

Just my guess and my two cents.

EFG on December 1, 2006 at 12:30 AM

With sadness, I say again that the concept of “every populace deserves its leaders is not dead”.

Entelechy on December 1, 2006 at 12:49 AM

Melba Toast:

How do we know this isn’t related to the Airline plots that were broken up over the summer?

Not impossible. Litvinenko was a known supporter of Chechen jihadist terrorists, and even converted to Islam on his deathbed. He is apparently a hero among jihadists now … in other words a “martyr”. Could he have accidentally poisoned himself?

MoonbatMedia on December 1, 2006 at 2:47 AM

Am I alone here in NOT buying into the anti-Putin hysteria in the MSM? If you haven’t noticed, it’s a coordinated effort that has been raging since Putin has cracked down on the evil oligarchs who were decimating Russia’s wealth by taking everything for themselves, and keeping the Russian nation as slaves while they lead lavish lives. Of course, the British government and media supports these so-called “dissidents”, and I’m absolutely ashamed of it.

MoonbatMedia on December 1, 2006 at 2:53 AM

The reason there are contradictions and so many new locations of contaminations is that they are covering their trail by contaminating everything they touch even now. That’s why more and more sites are being found every day. That’s what I would do.

Egfrow on December 1, 2006 at 5:48 AM

I’m with Egfrow. I, too, believe the flurry of contaminations is designed to confuse.

That said, although the USSR Russia is a mess and Litvinenko was a suspicious character, I still see Putin’s paw prints all over this. The Brits do, as well, but don’t want to have to deal with it, head-on, unless and until they must. That, however, raises the question: Just who is responsible for the confusion?

Aunt B on December 1, 2006 at 6:59 AM

Radio station Echo Moskvy reported Friday that Litvinenko converted to Islam. Litvinenko, it said, was read the Yasin surah, or prayer, and given Islamic death rites by an imam invited to the dying spy’s hospital bedside.

Ekho, a prominent liberal broadcaster funded by state-owned gas monopoly Gazprom, said Litvinenko would be buried in a Muslim cemetery in London. The station cited Chechenpress, the official news agency of the wartorn republic’s insurgency.

Polonium-210 on multiple airplanes, “rogue elements” and now a jihad connection. It’ll be interesting to see where he’s buried.

RedWinged Blackbird on December 1, 2006 at 7:04 AM

For those of you who cannot figure out why the traces are greatest in the bathroom, think removal of 210 out of the system.

I know of someone who got too much a few years ago and the answer was to consume a lot of liquid to flush the system. Needless to say, the liquid of choice was alcohol, thereby earning him the sobriquet,”Kid Radium”.

In this case, caution and trepidation are in order, The head of a major country in the world may be assassinating political dissidents. Nations themselves may be next. Why would Putin stop now, he’s been found out, why not just finish tying up the loose ends and bury whatever secrets he wanted to?

tormod on December 1, 2006 at 7:18 AM

This case keeps getting more and more interesting. I won’t write off Putin yet. He’s ex-KGB. He knows how to get something done without incriminating himself. Also, I found this on the net. May explain how they got it here and why they chose this particular form of radiation.

But Polonium is described as soluble in weak acids, which means that it could probably be dissolved and transported in solution. As an alpha emitter, it’s radioactivity would be blocked by the container. The liquid could be added to an acidic drink or foodstuff.

vcferlita on December 1, 2006 at 9:05 AM

What use would this have at such small levels that someone would actually buy it off the internet … and, why are they allowed to sell it at all?

Gregor, follow that link AP posted that goes to United Nuclear (it’s a pretty cool site, btw). They explain it there. Basically, the quantities they sell are so small, you don’t need a license to possess or sell it. It would take 15,000 times that amount to be dangerous. As to why someone would want to buy it, who knows? Other than maybe the “fun” factor? (Ooh, look, I’ve got polonium! Cooool!)

Hack Ptui on December 1, 2006 at 9:29 AM

Just saw on Fox that the Italian who dined with Litvenenko has tested positive for radiation.

vcferlita on December 1, 2006 at 9:59 AM

Just saw on Fox that the Italian who dined with Litvenenko has tested positive for radiation.

Suspect turned victim. Last one standing is guilty.

RedWinged Blackbird on December 1, 2006 at 10:02 AM

AP — What’s the “catch” to which you refer? The fact that the stuff can only be shipped in the US? Regardless, that scared me more than any of the rest of this.

lan astaslem on December 1, 2006 at 10:08 AM

According to the Register:
“United Nuclear was set up by researcher Bob Lazar, who claims to have been involved in reverse engineering alien spacecraft which crash landed at Area 51.”

BelchSpeak on December 1, 2006 at 11:07 AM

follow that link AP posted that goes to United Nuclear (it’s a pretty cool site, btw). They explain it there.

I did, and I think I read pretty much everything there but I can’t find anything indicating WHY anyone would buy it. The site does not suggest any possible uses for the material as far as I could see.

I’m not sure the “fun factor” could be a reason. It’s hard for me to imagine the sale of a radioactive material being allowed for nothing more than “fun.”

There’s got to be more to it.

Gregor on December 1, 2006 at 12:44 PM

One legitimate use for all those rare elements like Polonium, Americium etc is testing and calibration of lab and analysis equipment; such as Atomic Absorbsion, Spectroscopes & Microprobe units.

I expect that United’s main customers for that kind of stuff are chemistry, mineralogy and physics teachers, students and assorted ‘geeks’.

Heck, 15 or more years ago I would have been a customer of theirs because I was a collector-geek of that kind of stuff. I don’t do it any more, but mostly because I have too much junk around here already, but I’m still interested in it.

LegendHasIt on December 1, 2006 at 4:38 PM

blackjack

Bishop on September 12, 2012 at 5:52 PM