Yeah, except they really don’t. I was ready to do an end zone dance here in front of some of our commenters who are sold on the dirty-bomb theory, but there isn’t anything in the article that conflicts with that theory. The sources point to the fact that the plot was “highly sophisticated,” that it involves a former FSB agent — Lugovoy — and that it would have taken a whole team of people with access to polonium-210 to pull it off. Right — but all of that would also be true if a team of former FSB agents were smuggling polonium either to sell for use in a weapon or, possibly, for use in a weapon of their own. Litvinenko was an ex-FSB agent himself, don’t forget, and one with multiple motives, i.e., money and religious sympathies. Plus, the dirty-bomb theory has something that the assassination theory doesn’t: a plausible explanation for how the polonium got into Litvinenko’s system. Says the Times:

A senior police source told The Times yesterday that the method used to kill the 43-year-old dissident was intended to send a message to his friends and allies.

“It’s such a bad way to die, they must have known,” the source said.

They could have sent a message with a bullet and a note. The dose that killed Litvinenko would have cost literally tens of millions of dollars to obtain; it doesn’t make sense that they would have wasted it on him. Accidental self-contamination in the course of handling material that he was smuggling? That makes more sense.

Now, ‘fess up, dirty-bomb believers: there’s virtually nothing the cops would or could say in support of the assassination theory that would make you believe it, is there? Unless they can produce the assassination weapon, you’re going to call cover-up on this come what may. It’s too sexy to let go of. Level with me. Honest dialogue begins here.

They found polonium traces inside Arsenal stadium today, by the way. Who attended the Arsenal match on November 1, the same day that he met Litvinenko? Right. Lugovoy.

Update: You’ve got to be kidding.

Russia named its price yesterday for providing help in the investigation into the death by poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko. It demanded that Britain hand over the enemies of President Putin who have been given asylum in London…

In a clear sign of growing diplomatic tensions, the Prosecutor-General appeared to link the Litvinenko investigation to the demands by the Kremlin for Britain to hand over Boris Berezovsky, the exiled oligarch, who is one of President Putin’s fiercest critics.

British courts have thrice rejected Russian requests for the extradition of the billionaire businessman, but Mr Chaika said that he expected a fresh application “in the near term” for Mr Berezovsky and for Akhmed Zakayev, the Chechen separatist leader.

Does this, at last, explain why polonium was used? To make the killing so sensational that the British public would demand that it be solved — which Moscow could then use for leverage in its demands for Berezovsky? But in that case, why didn’t they just poison Berezovsky instead of Litvinenko? Lugovoy knows him; he could have gotten to him.

Just what in the hell is Putin doing here trying to extort Blair when he’s already under suspicion for having had someone assassinated? Can this report possibly be true? And what’s this about?

Andrei Lugovoy, the key figure of interest to the police, who was among the last people to see Litvinenko on the day he fell ill, was suddenly admitted to hospital in Moscow yesterday. He claimed that he was too ill with radiation poisoning to speak, but later from his hospital bed said that he had nothing to hide and was ready to meet the detectives.

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