I bet this is how Tom Maguire ended up on the Plame beat. He wrote a few posts about it when the story first broke, felt obliged to keep up with it as other righty bloggers dropped out, and before he knew it he was three years older and had 100 posts about Joe Wilson in his archives.

If I’m still blogging about Litvinenko three years from now, I’ll be looking for polonium for myself.

The plot’s so thick it’s practically ossified. The FBI’s involved now as it seems a former KGB major who lives in Virginia and knows Scaramella may or may not have compiled a dossier showing incriminating links between the Kremlin and the Yukos oil company, and may or may not have given that dossier to Litvinenko, who may or may not have been planning to blackmail the people involved. Scaramella’s connection to the plot is unclear, but he’s turning out to be one shady customer. The papers have been describing him as an “academic” and “magistrate,” but … hmmmm:

Mr Litvinenko accused Mr Scaramella of poisoning him from the day he first fell ill: as the Italian told me, his name was all over Russian and Chechen websites as the main suspect in the poisoning of the former FSB agent long before the story hit the British press. Mr Litvinenko retained his suspicion right up to his death. Speaking of the Itsu meeting, he said: “Mario didn’t want anything, he gave me the email printouts … I said to myself, he could have sent these emails by computer. But instead he wanted to come and give them to me in person: why, and why in such a hurry? He was very nervous.”

The cops seem pretty sure Litvinenko was poisoned at the sushi place, and funny thing — Scaramella was the one who requested the meeting:

According to Litvinenko’s friend and co-author Felshtinsky, who spoke to him soon afterwards: “Alexander told me the meeting was very sudden. They weren’t meant to meet that particular day. Then Mario suddenly called and said he had to meet him immediately…”

Felshtinsky thinks he’s innocent. Is he? Back to the Independent:

Mr Scaramella claims to be many things, including a professor at Naples University, an honorary magistrate, and consultant to something called the Environmental Crime Protection Programme (ECPP). But Naples University has not heard of him. The ECPP has no fixed office. The post as magistrate is non-paying. The only job he has had in recent years over which there is no doubt is with the Mitrokhin Commission. [The commission was formed to investigate KGB influence in Italian politics. — ed.]

Yet it is this job, which finished before Italy’s general election in April, that has now landed him in hot water. On the orders of the public prosecutor of Naples, Mr Scaramella’s phone was tapped; last week Italian papers published what were reported to be transcripts of conversations between him and the president of the Mitrokhin Commission, Senator Paolo Guzzanti, a member of Mr Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party.

The transcripts allegedly show the two men discussing how Mr Scaramella is to acquire strong enough evidence from Moscow to label Romano Prodi, then the leader of Italy’s centre-left opposition, now Prime Minister, a tool of the Russians.

According to Oleg Gordievsky, a former senior Russian agent who defected to the UK, the source for Scaramella’s allegations against Prodi was … Alexander Litvinenko.

AFP says it can’t even confirm Scaramella’s date of birth.

So then it was Scaramella who did it, huh? Some sort of double-cross, probably organized by the Russians and possibly with Prodi’s help? Not exactly. Remember Lugovoy, the Russian “businessman” with whom Litvinenko had tea the same day he was poisoned?

On October 25 Lugovoi again flew to London, this time on a British Airways plane, and checked in to the Sheraton Park Lane hotel.

“In the evening [of the next day] I met with Litvinenko in the lobby of the hotel and we had a drink together at the bar,” he said.

He met Litvinenko again in the hotel bar on the following evening. “Then early in the morning the next day October 28] I flew back to Moscow on BA, the flight which leaves either at 8 or 9 am.”

On October 31 Lugovoi yet again flew to London, this time with his family in preparation for the Arsenal v CSKA Moscow match the next day…

Polonium radiation has been found at the Sheraton Park Lane hotel.

Neither Litvinenko nor Lugovoi is thought to have visited the Sheraton Park Lane hotel after October 28. So how did polonium contamination get there? Was Lugovoi already contaminated by then? Did he bring it with him from Moscow?

October 25, 28, and 31 — three of the four dates the cops have zeroed in on in their investigation of the radioactive British Airways planes. But wait, it gets better still. Lugovoy apparently went to visit Boris Berezovsky at his offices in London sometime during the last week of October or very beginning of November; the cops aren’t sure yet on which precise day, but they’re mighty curious to find out. Why? Because Lugovoy, by his own admission, had traces of polonium on him.

The timing is important, because whenever Lugovoi did visit the office he appears to have been strongly radioactive — traces have been found there.

He and Berezovsky greeted each other with a hug and Lugovoi sat on a sofa while they drank white wine. The source said: “When investigators later tested for radioactivity, the maximum activity was on the cream-coloured sofa where Lugovoi was sitting while he drank wine.”

If Lugovoy visited Berezovsky after he met with Litvinenko on November 1 then there’s a possibly innocent explanation here, namely, a few errant particles of polonium were transferred from Litvinenko to Lugovoy while they were having tea and remained stuck to Lugovoy’s clothes while he traveled to Berezovsky’s office. If Lugovoy visited Berezovsky before he met with Litvinenko, though, then where’d all that radioactivity come from?

Meanwhile, there have been some rumors floating around about Litvinenko having converted to Islam before he died. Sounds like Chechen propaganda to me, but judge for yourself.

Exit question: who’s going to play Litvinenko in the movie? Watch the clip and offer your suggestions.