Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Litvinenko and the Too-Perfect Story

A quick word on the apparently fading furor regarding the poisoned former-KGB spy Litvinenko. I haven't researched it enough to possess any superior knowledge on the episode, for sure. But if you are interested, search Google News or even do a blog search on the topic. The discussion out there is pretty interesting, and the Russians seemed to have taken the lead in framing the debate.

My slightly-educated opinion (based upon how events unfolded) and what we have learned since, is that Litvinenko was poisoned by the Russian government or agents working for it. This was the first-blush viewpoint that the MSM seemed to be coalescing around, and then something happened. All the press coverage stopped and/or started to go in other directions.

But my view remains that Putin and Co. wanted to take out a jihadi sympathizer and do it in a way that sent a message to the jihadis' allies and Russia's.

Recall that we learned that Litvinenko converted to Islam on his deathbed, and then things started to take a different turn in the investigation. Russian media outlets began circulating the theory that Litvinenko was accidentally poisoned by the very polonium he was smuggling. Some postulated that the incident was a terrorist hit on an ally gone bad (Litvinenko is regarded as a hero in Chechnya). Others said that terrorists were doing a "dirty bomb" dry run.

But none of the new theories make sense to me. Why? Well, some things are obvious. It is extremely difficult, nearly impossible, to "accidentally" ingest polonium. Second, no one else close to Litvinenko was harmed by the supposed accident. True, we have evidence of low-level contamination, but only one man has died.

We know that the polonium came from Russia. And to be able to smuggle polonium from Russia to London would require incredible manpower/resources. It would take a government, or people acting with the sanction of a government.

I ran across this interesting story by the Russian News and Information Agency today. This is officially-sanctioned stuff, the Russian party line, if you will. Take a look, and you'll note that the Russian media put forth four theories for how Litvinenko was killed. Notably, the 400-lb. gorilla in the room theory (the Russian government did it) is omitted. I'm shocked, I tell you. Shocked.

So, I naturally suspect that I was right even more.

Note, too, that the Russian News Agency discusses Litvinenko's interaction with the Italian "security consultant" Scaramella, who was apparently with Litvinenko at the restaurant where he was poisoned. Look at this paragraph by RNA:

Scaramella said his friend Litvinenko made a bit on the side by smuggling toxic isotopes. The future victim of polonium poisoning lived on Berezovsky's hand-me-downs and badly needed more money.
This statement, standing alone, convinces me that Litvinenko was deliberately killed. Why? What are the odds that a mysterious Italian would tell Russian media that Litvinenko admitted just prior to his death that he was smuggling polonium and in need of money? It's possible, but that's not the way that stories, or true ones, typically unfold. True stories are told by imperfect people, and thus the story too good to be true usually is.

Scaramella was contaminated, but apparently will live. And there are/were traces of the polonium at places in and around London where Litvinenko travelled shortly before his death. So, based on these facts, some have argued that Litvinenko couldn't have been poisoned at the restaurant deliberately.

But clearly people who could get polonium into a London restaurant and then get Litvinenko to ingest it are also up to the task of dusting other dummy locations with the isotope. And they are also quite competent enough to slightly contaminate other "victims", so as to disguise their laser-beam focus on the real target. Again, no one but Litvinenko has died.

So what do we have, a laser-guided nuclear accident? I guess it's possible, but it's not likely the case.

The best scenario for American security is that I am right. That is, we had better hope that the Russians took out Litvinenko for his ties to jihadis. For all their faults, we know that the Russians face the threat from Militant Islam, as we do.

If the Russian government did not kill Litvinenko, we are left to ask: Are the super-competent Litivenko killers, who possess the components of a nuclear weapon, on America's side in any respect? This should cause us great concern.