Spymania: Suspicions swirl around … everyone

posted at 11:23 pm on December 3, 2006 by Allahpundit

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.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

I think AJ Strata at strata-sphere.com might be on to something.

His main thing is he doesn’t believe it’s an intentional poisoning.

Why?

Well ask yourself, why pay millions of dollars for a large quantity of a rare and easily traceable radiactive isotope as your weapon of choice?

Doesn’t Occam’s Razor (simplest answer usually right all things considered) make it more likely that the radical Litvinenko may have been trading in radioactive materials and accidentally exposed himself?

And not in the Britney Spears sense.

Please read all of AJ Strata’s December posts on this issue.

He’s put a lot of time, thought, and effort into it and the blogger himself is a fairly logical software engineer. I’ve read what he advocates and it fits.

I’d love to believe Putin ordered this, but I don’t. I think Alexander Litvinenko was our enemy.

Christoph on December 3, 2006 at 11:40 PM

Well ask yourself, why pay millions of dollars for a large quantity of a rare and easily traceable radiactive isotope as your weapon of choice?

Because they weren’t sure how easily traceable it would be. It had never been used before as a poison. It gives off low enough levels of gamma radiation that whoever used it might have thought it would go undetected. They didn’t take the alpha radiation into account.

Allahpundit on December 3, 2006 at 11:43 PM

When the dirty bombs go off will the mystery deepen?

Buzzy on December 3, 2006 at 11:50 PM

What radioactive isotope produced at a nuclear power plant isn’t easily traceable?

Further, those handling it invariably get contaminated with radiation as the decaying alpha-particles on an open container eject polonium atoms which will contact the handler.

Please read what AJ Strata has to say in this post:

A single dose of Polonium-210 should cost around $1 million dollars (a heavy price to pay to replace one bullet). Since Litvinenko had 100 times the lethal dose I doubt seriously we are talkiing about a $100 Million hit job. No way. So I am of the opinion the more Polonium-210 found the less likely it is an assasination attempt.

Update: It seems “Sasha” (as Litvinenko is known) was involved with nuclear material smuggling last year — tied to Scaramella:

That’s pretty thought-provoking.

Christoph on December 3, 2006 at 11:50 PM

What is more important to me is that there is radiation all over the place. Some twenty locations, several people, airplanes, hotels …

Looks like a whole lot of contamination for poisoning one person. I am not meaning to say that I think it is impossible but all that contamination would be more consistant with an accidental spill or ongoing smuggling than a targeted killing.

It would have been much easier to simply shoot him in an elevator like happened to that journalist or run over him as he crossed a street or drop a safe on his head or anything. Killing someone is cheap, no use in using a multimillion dollar bullet and scattering the stuff all over the darned place. It appears that several million dollars worth of polonium was wasted on airline seats, hotel sofas and other things that don’t die.

crosspatch on December 4, 2006 at 12:00 AM

Thanks, crosspatch. That was among the many excellent points that AJ Strata makes.

I urge you to continue following the story as it develops on his blog.

Christoph on December 4, 2006 at 12:06 AM

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

…I thought you’d complete this sentence with “I’ll be looking for polonium on myself”

Tim Robbins might be a fit…but then I don’t know that much about actors.

The more I learn about this case, the more I conclude that many shady characters/governments were/are involved, including “Sasha” himself.

Entelechy on December 4, 2006 at 12:07 AM

Because they weren’t sure how easily traceable it would be. It had never been used before as a poison. It gives off low enough levels of gamma radiation that whoever used it might have thought it would go undetected. They didn’t take the alpha radiation into account.

That doesn’t sound very convincing, AP. AJ Strata’s explanation is much more straightforward and fits the available evidence.

You’re relying on too much stupidity and ignorance when it comes to nuclear matters than I believe you can assign to the Russians. You’re also relying on a huge budget of multi-millions of dollars just for the weapon to kill one critic. From the Russians.

I don’t think they have that much money to throw around on stupid badly thought-out plots that don’t take elementary physics into account.

Christoph on December 4, 2006 at 12:16 AM

The other problem is that you can’t believe a darned thing that one Russian says about another. Consider a place that has people aligned into various competing syndicates. One person might cast blame on another in order to weaken a competing syndicate or advance their own. I find it hard to believe a thing any of them say.

crosspatch on December 4, 2006 at 12:19 AM

That doesn’t sound very convincing, AP. AJ Strata’s explanation is much more straightforward and fits the available evidence.

From the Times of London article I linked:

THE more that emerges about Litvinenko’s death, the more polonium is revealed as an extraordinary weapon for assassination. Though it leaves a radiation trail, this is of usually benign “alpha” particles that do not register on normal geiger counters. The assassin or assassins may have gambled it would never be detected.

There are three basic types of radioactive particles or rays: alpha, beta and gamma. Gamma are generally regarded as the most deadly because they are a powerful penetrator of solid objects. Alpha radiation, on the other hand, can be stopped by something as thin as a piece of paper or skin.

“As far as I know this is the first person ever to have died of an overdose of alpha radiation,” said Nick Priest, the former head of biomedical research at the Atomic Energy Authority. “I can’t think of any other case where a lethal dose has been administered by alpha radiation.”

Only if a substance emitting alpha particles gets inside the body and dissolves into the bloodstream does it slowly wreak havoc.

This is why doctors treating Litvinenko when he fell ill were baffled. He exhibited classic signs of radiation poisoning, including vomiting, hair loss and organ failure. But when they tested for gamma radiation with a geiger counter, they found nothing unusual.

The police who interviewed Litvinenko in hospital initially did not know what had caused his illness and had little to go on. There was no trail to follow.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA), a body that merged with the National Radiological Protection Board in 2005, was out of its depth. Polonium is so rare that nobody thought to look for it.

Eventually a sample of Litvinenko’s urine was sent for testing at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) at Aldermaston. Again geiger counters showed only a tiny amount more gamma radiation than the normal background level. In the end scientists decided to use an alpha detector and were shocked to find a stream of helium nuclei being emitted from the sample.

This, though, was only part of the answer, since various substances emit alpha particles, and they wanted to identify the precise emitter. Once again there was a risk of polonium remaining undetected since it is notoriously difficult to isolate.

As for the dosage, I don’t know why they miscalculated. I agree, it’s very odd that they would use such an expensive substance and such a large amount of it; I said as much the other day. It could be that Strata is right and Litvinenko was incidentally contaminated in a smuggling operation — although it’d be equally strange for smugglers to be leaking polonium all over five hotel rooms when they know better than anyone how much the material is worth, no?

We’ll see. Righty bloggers can be a bit excitable when it comes to jihadis, especially when the word “nuclear” is involved. I’m loath to sign off on any blockbuster dirty bomb theories when there are still alternate theories floating around.

Oh, and hey: you forgot to link Strata in your last comment. Don’t forget next time. People might have missed the first three links.

Allahpundit on December 4, 2006 at 12:37 AM

My theory is that people may skim the comments quickly and just read one of mine, AP, that’s all. I’d do the same thing if I was linking back to a particularly insightful Hot Air post that was being overlooked.

Christoph on December 4, 2006 at 12:49 AM

Gazing deeply into shallow ponds… This is clearly about more than just a murder. Cite one example of the Russians choosing such an exotic, expensive route over a simple gunshot, strangulation, etc. Millions of dollars? Come on, put down your Tom Clancy novels and think. They (Russians) don’t care about anything but immediate results. Look at the last two killings (that we know of)- the journalist, and the head of the banking group. Pretty basic stuff. There is much more here to learn.

Scotsman on December 4, 2006 at 12:52 AM

What he said.

Christoph on December 4, 2006 at 1:17 AM

The alpha radiation that polonium emits is really hard on things like what one might use as a container to keep the stuff. If you try to use glass, it will make it dark, extremely brittle, and prone to easy breakage. Plastic is out because it will actually eat right through it (the alpha particles will act like little bullets and cause pitting until a hole is made). You need a special container to hold it. If someone was carrying this stuff around for an extended period of time the container could have been compromised.

There is apparently contamination that dates back to October 25th on the airline seat used by one of those involved (Lugovoi) to fly to London but apparently no contamination is found where he sat to watch a soccer match and there might be contamination that dates back to October 17th that could be connected to Lugovoi. So we have Lugovoi who appears to be sprinkling the stuff everywhere he goes like the polonium fairy, the Italian who comes up with 5 times a fatal dose and who is probably a walking dead man, Litvinenko who had apparently 100 times a fatal dose, Litbinenko’s wife apparently with it in her urine which means she not only came into casual contact with it but also ingested a detectible quantity … I mean there is this polonium cloud that seems to be following these people everywhere they go.

Just seems a little much for a targeted poisoning.

crosspatch on December 4, 2006 at 1:24 AM

I feeling like I am reading a spy novel. With polonium scattered like crumbs of bread everywhere, I believe that no nobody was actually poisoned. These spies must have spent too much time with polonium–avoided critical cautionary measures to evade suspicion. It seems to like somebody–Litvinenko –ended up inhalling enough of it. If Scaramella did it, it is too obvious.

I don’t think they have that much money to throw around on stupid badly thought-out plots that don’t take elementary physics into account.

Christoph on December 4, 2006 at 12:16 AM

Ouabam on December 4, 2006 at 1:27 AM

AP you had the right idea but you said it the wrong way. Of course the russian assassins knew about the alpha radiation, the whole point of polonium is that it is such an alpha emitter. The whole ‘stealth’ characteristic of this poison is that:

(1) Once in the body, the alpha radiation is not detectable, since the body absorbs it. So simply pointing a geiger counter at a poisoned person won’t work.

(2) It is used in such minute quantities that it is safe to assume that it might be completely undetected. The only way the british knew was by TESTING HIS URINE and they found it that way. If not for the sophisticated urine tests, the british would NOT have found it, and if they didnt determine polonium was the poison, they wouldnt have waged this massive radiation detection campaign afterwards.

(3) Plans often have flaws. I could easily see someone being so enamored with the sophistication of this ‘super poison’ that they didn’t consider how it could have been found. Also, remember this poison could have been used on other people sucessfully until now, and we dont know about it because those deaths might have been attributed to other causes. Finally, if this was the 1st use of polonium by the russians, then they could have very easily made mistakes. CIA agents screw up all the time, why not the russians?

I think people are making a lot of ASSUMPTIONS here in absence of the facts. It is clear to be based on what was said that by far and away the most reasonable “Occam’s Razor” theory at this point is that Putin had this guy whacked as part of an aggressive campaign to use his freshly funded intelligence services to project his power both inside and outside of russia. I personally just have to chuckle when I see someone who is essentially peddling conspiracy theory citing “Occam’s Razor”. This is obviously just too big a mystery for us to solve…

… somebody call the Hardly Boys, I think AP’s post might give them a raging clue. ;)

kaltes on December 4, 2006 at 1:28 AM

Polonium: It is not the medium, but the message.

The sooner you guys can understand that, the sooner you will be ready for the brave bad new world.

LegendHasIt on December 4, 2006 at 1:29 AM

You need a special container to hold it. If someone was carrying this stuff around for an extended period of time the container could have been compromised.

This is crazy. It is walking around with at least 100 million dollars. Even though it is paid hit-job, the person performing would not even receive that much money.

Ouabam on December 4, 2006 at 1:31 AM

This is obviously just too big a mystery for us to solve…

… somebody call the Hardly Boys, I think AP’s post might give them a raging clue. ;)

kaltes on December 4, 2006 at 1:28 AM

Hehe. The two whooppers snappers

Ouabam on December 4, 2006 at 1:33 AM

Maybe A.J.’s half right. What if Litvinenko was involved with a Polonium smuggling ring and upset the wrong people within that ring? Wouldn’t they have access to Polonium to use as a murder weapon?

bdfaith on December 4, 2006 at 1:34 AM

Scotsman,

The other thing that comes to my mind is that the Russians have labs that develop exotic poisons. If the wanted something undetectable, the probably have several of them on the shelf. They could use a poison that Western medical professionals have never seen before. Polonium is as dangerous to the deliverer as it is to the target. They have access to “safer” (from the perspective of the deliverer) poisons that would be just as effective and be a lot less “dirty” in that it wouldn’t emit particles of any sort.

There is only one condition where I would give an assassin polonium to poison someone and that would be if I don’t mind poisoning the assassin too. But if the assassin is poisoned and knows it, he is going to sing like a canary. Too risky. Whoever was given the polonium to deliver is either at risk of dying from the polonium itself or from cancer if they didn’t get enough of a dose to be killed by it outright.

It is like giving someone a nuclear hand grenade.

crosspatch on December 4, 2006 at 1:36 AM

What if Litvinenko was involved with a Polonium smuggling ring and upset the wrong people within that ring?

Yeah, thats the direction I lean toward. He either upset someone or they wanted to cut him out of the loop.

crosspatch on December 4, 2006 at 1:39 AM

Maybe A.J.’s half right. What if Litvinenko was involved with a Polonium smuggling ring and upset the wrong people within that ring? Wouldn’t they have access to Polonium to use as a murder weapon?

I think that’s much closer to fitting the facts, for sure. I still find it hard to imagine smugglers using millions of dollars of their product as the weapon.

Can you imagine a heroin dealer killing a wayward mule with $94,000,000 worth of heroin?

I’m back to Occam’s Razor and thinking that AJ Strata’s theory is the simplest explanation of the facts.

Christoph on December 4, 2006 at 1:41 AM

Or it was just an accident. Container had been leaking for some time (cracked) and finally broke when someone (Litvinenko) was handling it.

Or there were several shipments of the stuff and it was regularly opened to test for alpha emissions to ensure they weren’t being ripped off and had the real thing and it spilled.

The Italian got 5x a lethal dose inside him according to his own words. That is more than one might be expected to inhale. Sasha got 100x a lethal dose inside him. Sasha’s wife got some small amount (or a larger amount some time ago) inside her too as her urine is positive.

The problem is that all these theories floating around are based on the notion that there was one exposure. Maybe they had been exposed several times to smaller amounts of the stuff if they were trafficking in it.

Considering all the contaminated locations and that contamination trails seem to possibly date back to October 17, we might be dealing with a “work accident”.

crosspatch on December 4, 2006 at 1:53 AM

It was obvious that he was suffering radiation poisoning so a urine test would have been an obvious check. There are only 4 kinds of radiation, alpha, beta, gamma, and neutron. Each check takes a minute to do. So you find alpha emissions, now you look for the agent. At first they found thallium and that was broadcast as the culprit but it wasn’t found in a quantity to do the damage that was seen so they kept looking. The day before he died they found the polonium. They knew it was an alpha emitter for some time, they just didn’t know which one.

crosspatch on December 4, 2006 at 2:00 AM

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

Tom Hanks

Ouabam on December 4, 2006 at 2:14 AM

How many ways are there to whack a guy in the streets of London and leave it looking like basic crime? This was definitely a “message” hit meant to get as much press as it has gotten.

laelaps on December 4, 2006 at 2:15 AM

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

John Voight if he was younger …

laelaps on December 4, 2006 at 2:18 AM

Pierce Brosnan is available for work and I hear he’s done a spy thriller or three. Aside, unlike most stars I like his website. He got me with the banner ad.

Christoph on December 4, 2006 at 2:18 AM

Brosnan seems humble to me. His website is impressive. I’m not so interested in actors’ lives, but he seems to portray a humble image with his writing and all. He might a good choice

Ouabam on December 4, 2006 at 2:33 AM

Am I supposed to click over to AJ Strata’s?

Anyways….

In my opinion the astronomical amount of money this dose of polonium costs I have to believe it was state sponsored. If it was organized crime, smuggling, or a rogue faction they would not have put out that kind of money or used such a valuable and rare commodity to pull this off. Another one of Putin’s alleged poisonings, the Ukrainian President, failed and maybe they wanted to make sure of this outcome. This could be the reason for the “overkill”. Someone else posted that this polonium didn’t cost Putin’s gov’t a red cent(nice pun), well it cost them something, but they could probably absorb the cost.
I just don’t buy any rogue element theories in this situation. Organized crime and smugglers would more than likely use a bullet. Rogue Factions would want publicity for their cause and therefore would not try to cover their tracks.
Thats just my opinion.

Sammy316 on December 4, 2006 at 2:43 AM

The polonium didn’t really cost Putin anything, because the polonium world market is fixed and russia already dominates it. That means any polonium extracted from reactors is excess of what is sold aborad is essentially surplus, not really worth anything since no one will buy it.

It is not as if there are reactors run purely to make polonium. This is just one of many reactor byproducts that the russians sell. Even if they had to specifically go through the trouble to make this surplus polonium, it would have been basically free because you have a government owned entity giving it over to a government agency secretly anyway.

The incremental costs of russia producing this surples polonium are nowhere near $100 million and people should not be thinking in those retail terms.

I really dont think the idea of a smuggling ring is appropriate until we have some facts pointing in that direction. Right now it is just speculation. At least if the killer is Putin, we have a trail of bodies leading to this guy.

kaltes on December 4, 2006 at 2:55 AM

For what it’s worth:

In an attempt to explain why a British Airways aircraft he boarded on October 25 reportedly revealed traces of radiation, Lugovoi told the newspaper he may have been contaminated by Litvinenko when the pair met a week earlier on October 17.

“Alexander Litvinenko, my business partner Dmitry Kovtun and I were in London on October 17 at a meeting in the office of (private security company) Erinys.

Link

crosspatch on December 4, 2006 at 3:00 AM

Yes that makes sense.

It is all very intriguing.

Sammy316 on December 4, 2006 at 3:00 AM

The speculation of nuclear smuggling is as valid as any Putin poisoning inasmuch as the fact that Litvinenko is pretty much known to have engaged in that activity in the past.

So you have Litvinenko who is a recent convert to Islam, has previously engaged in smuggling of nuclear material, is pro-Chechen and is poisoned and just about every single one of his close associates contaminated.

crosspatch on December 4, 2006 at 3:04 AM

Just my thought,but assuming essentially retail value to a substance that was possibly stolen clouds the waters.If you stole a huge crack rock from some dealer,what would you care if you cracked off a piece to kill some junkie? What I am saying is that to consider that value of this substance in the marketplace is a red herring.

bbz123 on December 4, 2006 at 3:06 AM

Assuming the polonium was stolen is the flaw in that logic.

crosspatch on December 4, 2006 at 3:13 AM

Agreed,cp,but the idea that $100 million worth of product is being tossed around the globe like a nickel by a bunch of knucleheads who seem to have no idea as to how lethal it is begs the question of whether it was a purposeful hit or not also.It goes to the retail formula that what you charge for something has no bearing on what it costs to produce or procure it.

bbz123 on December 4, 2006 at 3:22 AM

kaltes on December 4, 2006 at 2:55 AM

Given Kaltes theory, it is really not okay to think that Russia would be very concerned about a critic who has no influence and worst of all, no permanent job.

Assuming the polonium was stolen is the flaw in that logic.

crosspatch on December 4, 2006 at 3:13 AM

What do you guys think that we are dealing with here? L.A backyard deals.

Ouabam on December 4, 2006 at 3:23 AM

If it was organized crime, smuggling, or a rogue faction they would not have put out that kind of money or used such a valuable and rare commodity to pull this off.

You’re missing the point. The point, if AJ’s theory is true, is that no one spent a large of money to kill him, rather, he was part of an organization selling smuggled nuclear materials from Russia (something that everyone in intelligence is worried about) possibly to a terrorist organization such as al-Quaeda, which makes sense because they can afford it and have some obvious nefarious uses for it.

This may partly explain why the U.S. is investigating (although they would anyway, I think, so this is only so-so telling) and this is one of the thing AJ is worried about.

Am I supposed to click over to AJ Strata’s?

Yes, that was the point. If you want to understand the theory as opposed to dismiss it without thinking about it, you should read its proponent’s reasoning and evidence.

Christoph on December 4, 2006 at 3:25 AM

I think it is more likely that you have one of two routes. Either the polonium is being produced by Iran and being shipped into Russia to Chechens for use in building a dirty bomb. Produced by Iran and being sent to London for use in building a dirty bomb. Produced in Russia and being sold on the global black market.

I believe Litvinenko could be involved in the trafficking of it but HE isn’t stealing it. In other words, it isn’t free to him or his associates. It might be stolen but it is someone else doing the stealing. To my mind it is probably Iranian polonium.

crosspatch on December 4, 2006 at 3:32 AM

I nominate William Fichtner.

PaisleyCow on December 4, 2006 at 3:34 AM

If it is Russian polonium, I would expect the UK (or the UN) to demand some kind of report from Russia describing exactly how polonium from one of their plants ended up inside a British citizen in London. In other words, Russia using a product of their own nuclear program would be stupud.

I have read reports that the polonium is of Chinese origin. I believe it is more likely of Iranian origin.

crosspatch on December 4, 2006 at 3:40 AM

If it is in fact of Iranian origin, then I would suggest that one should avoid being in front of a fan,because it will be flying.

bbz123 on December 4, 2006 at 3:54 AM

Iran has been producing polonium since at least 2004

http://www.state.gov/t/us/rm/35281.htm

crosspatch on December 4, 2006 at 4:29 AM

Iran, China, Russia, smugglers, rougue factions

Good Gravy. How many more directions can this thing go?

Sammy316 on December 4, 2006 at 4:29 AM

Smelling more like camel dung every day.

RedWinged Blackbird on December 4, 2006 at 6:39 AM

You’re missing the point. The point, if AJ’s theory is true, is that no one spent a large of money to kill him, rather, he was part of an organization selling smuggled nuclear materials from Russia (something that everyone in intelligence is worried about) possibly to a terrorist organization such as al-Quaeda, which makes sense because they can afford it and have some obvious nefarious uses for it.

And if the Kremlin is behind it, they’re not paying retail. They’re only paying what it costs to produce it. Of course, I have no idea what that is, but I assume it’s considerably less than retail when once you’ve got the operating reactor.

Pablo on December 4, 2006 at 7:49 AM

From WND.com

While the government has insisted there is no cause for panic, MI6 and Britain’s internal security service, MI5, have jointly launched a top-priority hunt on how further quantities of Polonium 210 could be smuggled by al-Qaida.

The hunt began a week ago in Peshawar. The ancient Pakistan city hosts a joint MI6/CIA surveillance operation supported by America’s National Security Agency satellite surveillance.

Using the latest cyber-technology, the intelligence officers in Peshawar picked up a short-burst transmission from somewhere in Peshawar’s Old Town. It was in response to a call that appeared to have come from beyond the towering Khyber Pass, possibly from Afghanistan.

The call was automatically recorded on one of the computers in the offices the MI6/CIA team share.

Just as automatically, it was dispatched down the line through cyberspace to GCHQ, the British Government Headquarters in the Cotswold town of Cheltenham. Simultaneously it reached America’s NSA at Fort Meade, Md.

The words from Peshawar were part of the trillions of words in 500 languages that the GCHQ/NSA super computers are programmed to listen to, shift, reject or retain so they can be analyzed by the thousands of experts both GCHQ and NSA employ.

By late last week, MI6 knew of al-Qaida’s offer to purchase Polonium 210.

RedWinged Blackbird on December 4, 2006 at 9:12 AM

And if the Kremlin is behind it, they’re not paying retail. They’re only paying what it costs to produce it. Of course, I have no idea what that is, but I assume it’s considerably less than retail when once you’ve got the operating reactor.

Exactly.

Also, didn’t the Russians attempt to murder the president of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko, with a rare, hard to detect poison? He has up to 6000 times the normal levels of TCDD Dioxin in his system.

That sounds awfully similar. Perhaps its only in Russia that they just use thugs to physically murder someone because it’s less provocative to foreign powers, and can always be blamed on Russian crime lords or something.

thelinyguy on December 4, 2006 at 10:05 AM

I’ve got a headache.

thegreatbeast on December 4, 2006 at 10:22 AM

If they didn’t do it, and he didn’t know about it, then why would they deny it and he say he never met them. So both he and them are either lying or both telling the truth. Of course it could have been the others, but they don’t have the resources unless it gave it to them. It will all be clear in a couple of months, unless he tells them not to investigate it.

right2bright on December 4, 2006 at 10:41 AM

Christopher Walken.

Blaise on December 4, 2006 at 12:51 PM

Well, in analyzing all the evidence thus far there were many aspects of this case which seemed to have been overlooked. After writing it all up to post here, I came to the only possible conclusion, which I added to the end. But I don’t think it fair to ruin the game for everyone else, so in typical Clue fashion, I’ll just make my game solving declaration:

The method of poisoning was polonium powder loosely adhered to the hard copy emails in the envelope delivered by an unknowing Scaramella given to him by an unknowing Berezovsky passed on by an unknowing Lugovoy who originally received it from an unknowing Russian courier, coincidentally going to the soccer match, who received it from a lowly production polonium production technician who got the emails from a friend who knew agents from the FSB were planning to assassinate Litvinenko because he was trying elbow his way into the polonium blackmarket and the technician who was going to partner with Litvinenko unknowingly knocked the small sample of polonium on his desk onto the printouts. Litvinenko opened the envelope and rifled the pages causing the second cloud and exposing Scaramella, rifled the pages and got the additional lethal dose on his fingers and then proceeded to eat the sushi without chopsticks and also licking his fingers. After this he went to visit all the original intermediaries to thank them for forwarding the emails which he had in the breast pocket of his jacket that, at each stop he took off, shook out the wrinkles and set next to where he sat which caused all subsequent clouds contaminating all these other locations.

So, this entire episode is one long accident.

My thanks to Crosspatch [crosspatch on December 4, 2006 at 1:24 AM] for providing the visual that lead, in part, to my epiphany.

Dusty on December 4, 2006 at 5:24 PM

NYT says polonium only costs $22.50. Plus tax.

Commercially, Web sites and companies sell many products based on polonium 210, with labels warning of health dangers. By some estimates, a lethal dose might cost as little as $22.50, plus tax. “Radiation from polonium is dangerous if the solid material is ingested or inhaled,” warns the label of an antistatic brush. “Keep away from children.”

Bad Penny on December 4, 2006 at 7:55 PM

And you believe the NYT? This has been highly and widely discussed; The NYeT is completely wrong in terms of a $23.00 fatal dose. The only way that brush could kill you is if you swallowed the whole thing and choked to death on it.

LegendHasIt on December 5, 2006 at 12:43 AM

A new bit of information:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2487000_1,00.html

LegendHasIt on December 5, 2006 at 5:47 AM