Friday, December 01, 2006

The Second Man

The man Alexander Litvinenko met at a London sushi bar has been taken to the hospital to be treated for polonium 210 poisoning. According to the Times of London:

Police fear that the murder of a former Kremlin spy may have been part of a double killing plot after a second man was taken to hospital last night with radiation poisoning. The Anti-Terror Group is examining whether the killers of Alexander Litvinenko also tried to poison Mario Scaramella, an Italian security expert who met the Russian exile on the day that he fell ill.

Toxicologists confirmed yesterday that Mr Scaramella had also been contaminated by a “significant” amount of deadly polonium-210. The level leads them to suspect that it was more than he could have ingested from simple physical contact with Litvinenko.

In the meantime, at least three BA wide-bodied jets have been grounded for forensic testing after traces of radiation were found on aircraft plying the London-Moscow route. Thousands of passengers are being contacted to tell them of their risk. The airline is taking a significant financial hit because of these activities. And whether or not the Russian secret service is behind this, terrorists the world over are beginning to learn how destructive radiological contamination can be to the West.


Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

That is the scary part. As the use of suicide bombers has spread, and then IEDs, now it will be nuclear toxins. What a nightmare.

12/01/2006 07:42:00 PM  
Blogger chickelit said...

Wretchard: That should be polonium-210 not 410

12/01/2006 07:57:00 PM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

Wretchard, I believe it was Doug over at the EB who put up a post that related to a theory that this was a smuggling operation gone wrong. I will find it and give you the link.

12/01/2006 07:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2164th said, "Wretchard, I believe it was Doug over at the EB who put up a post that related to a theory that this was a smuggling operation gone wrong. I will find it and give you the link."

Honestly, why would the President of Russia get mixed up in a third-rate polonium burglary?

12/01/2006 08:06:00 PM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

Here it is Wretchard. What do you think?

Doug said...Posted at EB
OT hit and run:
AJStrata’s Litvinenko Theory
This is not a botched assasination attempt but a botched nuclear contraband effort.
Authorities say polonium is not dangerous unless swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through a wound.
...or unless you're anywhere near the contamination!
The head of Russia's state atomic energy agency Rosatom, Sergei Kiriyenko, told the government daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta Russia produces only 8 grams of polonium 210 a month. He said all goes to U.S. companies through a single authorised supplier.

Where are we putting that stuff these days?

3:22 PM, December 01, 2006

12/01/2006 08:07:00 PM  
Blogger The Wobbly Guy said...

Would you believe everything the Russians say?

The facts do not fit the sequence of events. It doesn't take much to see that somebody somewhere is lying, and frankly, the chances are higher that the lies stem from Russia.

12/01/2006 09:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You gotta see the big picture here. These guys are probably test subjects for an implantableRadioisotope thermoelectric generator that could power a cyborg's integrated mp3 player and mobile phone for decades.

What we may be seeing is simply a case of Russians sharing comparable specifications for technology by way of a shared culture. I've just never known enough Russians so as to speculate what they might have done that is out of the ordinary.

12/01/2006 10:08:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Why would Litvinenko already have been dead and gone, and the new guy just now going in to hospital? The meeting, according to the Times, has him receiving the dose at the same time as Litvinenko.

12/01/2006 10:13:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

2164th said,
"As the use of suicide bombers has spread, and then IEDs, now it will be nuclear toxins."

Polonium 210 is 250,000,000 times more toxic than cyanide. Only about 100 grams are produced annually worldwide. Is there a message here?

12/01/2006 10:43:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

There's too little hard information to judge what's happening here. Litvinenko himself categorically accused the Russian state on his deathbed, when a human being has nothing much to lose or gain either way.

But even if we completely discount Litvinenko's testimony we are still left the poison and the track from Russia. If Litvinenko's death were a work accident and he was not himself an actual target, the existence of the poison and the track means someone else is target. It is the existence of the weapons system and its probable source that is the key fact. Litvineko is incidental.

If AJ Strata's theory is correct, then the poison was being sold to parties who planning to poison someone else. As I said, it is the discovery of the operational capability that is the bombshell.

The clear implication of AJ Strata's speculation is that someone was buying the radioactive poison from the Russians and that perhaps the poison is still in the UK. It doesn't take a genius to speculate who that "buyer" may be. Pakistanis in the UK with access to al-Qaeda funds would be one obvious set of suspects. And with a poison so potent and incurable, it could be delivered to a statdium catering event, a hospital, an office building, a school or a church gathering.

But the alternative -- that the bulk supplies still aren't in London but still in Russia -- isn't very comforting. Because the radioactive poisoning capability is now known to exist, its small size means it can be delivered in the world within hours. Whether or not it is now in the UK is not particularly significant.

Collateral evidence suggests that a chemical warfare unit exists. Other people have ben poisoned. Nor is there any reason to think the available toxins are limited to polonium. And nothing in principle prevents the mass poisoning scenario from being implemented directly from Russia to anyplace in the world. Tokyo, New York, Flagstaff -- wherever.

Effectively we've just stumbled on a new weapons system with absolutely wonderful properties in the realm of terrorist warfare. I'm going to speculate that the bulk supplies are under positive control in Russia. They won't let the merchandise out until its ready to be used. It will be delivered just in time for the same reason nukes are kept under strict control until they are ready to be used. Even murder has logic.

But since any reasonable mass radioactive poisoning scenario will be effectively the equivalent of a unclaimed small tactical nuke or dirty bomb, the incident reveals our lack of a doctrine to deal with such threats. And if thousands of kids were poisoned with polonium tomorrow, would Blair nuke Russia? Or Pakistan? Would Pelosi even countenance the suggestion? Not as far as I can see.

We are in a war for our lives, whatever alternate universe certain people think they live in. And as Karen Carpenter said, "we only just begun".

12/02/2006 12:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wretchard wrote, "Effectively we've just stumbled on a new weapons system with absolutely wonderful properties in the realm of terrorist warfare."

On the other hand, this event has triggered intense scrutiny of the black market trade in radioactives, which may prevent a large scale poisoning as you envision.

12/02/2006 12:41:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

This outbreak needs to be very closely examined.
I will follow wherever it leads.

12/02/2006 01:01:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Triton: This thread has some comments I'm sure will interest you.
Plus, you might add to the knowledge base.

12/02/2006 01:05:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Origins of Avoidable Misery?
Analysis Matrix

12/02/2006 01:11:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Who was Alexander Litvinenko?

"Ela Malek, 22, fears she may have been contaminated by the radiation poison that slowly killed the ex-KGB agent. ... Ela, who took Litvinenko’s order for sashimi ... told how she recognised him instantly ... 'We noticed him because he was so expensively dressed. Everything was Armani or some other designer. He always had wads of cash in his wallet and seemed very wealthy. Me and the other girls talked about him. We wondered what he did because he was so secretive and had so much money.'" (UK Sun)

12/02/2006 02:00:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...


I've looked at the AJ Strata comments thread and one item jumps out. Polonium 210 has a half-life of 138 days, so the effective quantity on hand is halved every 4.5 months. A terrorist needs to use quickly or watch it go soft. A vendor has to sell it quickly or else it loses value.

If Litvinenko were the endpoint of a smuggling deal, then whoever has it is going to use it soon. If he was simply the target then this particular attack ended there -- for now. But this mode of attack is now known to exist.

"Deadly radioactive material is circulating in the shadowy marketplaces of the world. If it falls into the wrong hands, it is certain to be catastrophic," says the Toronto Star.

Of course almost anybody involved in this trade is by definition, possessed of the "wrong hands". So now we have a proven black market in nuclear plans courtest of AQ Khan. And a possible black market in radioactive toxins into the bargain.

12/02/2006 03:00:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Did Litvinenko convert to Islam?

The Daily Telegraph has been told that Mr Litvinenko had converted to Islam. Akhmed Zakayev, the leading Chechen dissident who lived next door to Mr Litvinenko, said: "He was read to from the Koran the day before he died and had told his wife and family that he wanted to be buried in accordance with Muslim tradition."

12/02/2006 04:11:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Good to know he was saved.
...just in the nick of time.
Scarey to think they might
be honoring meritorius service.

12/02/2006 04:29:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

I love this comment!
is none other than Raw Story’s Larisa Alexandrovna,

No offenses AJ. but Larisa and her little cyber sleuth and her buddy Larry Johnson had me pegged as a DOD Deiblod employee plant frown Diebold or DOD or something.

I am housewife like.

Anyways, when I see Larisa Alexandrovna I think what my grandpa the engineer made, SALT.

Left by topsecretk9@AJ on December 2nd, 2006

12/02/2006 04:53:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

If Polonium could be packaged in time-released dosages, devastatingly large quantities could be transported by unsuspecting curriers - say, for example, all airline passengers having a drink aboard that flight from Heathrow to San Francisco and points between. Thus, having poisoned deplaned passengers, a perpetrator could inflict any number of mass casualty events at a future date rather than going for one major strike at the single field event foreseen by Wretchard.

But, no one could do such a thing. And, even if possible, who would do such a thing?

12/02/2006 05:05:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Mike H--dosage level? Do that make sense?

12/02/2006 06:23:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

So, had the deceased had just "gone Muslim" according to anything other the neighbor, I wonder?

12/02/2006 06:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One would have to be pretty creative to kill a lot of people with an alpha-radiating substance. The radiating particles are too heavy and too slow for a mass proximity contamination; they can't penetrate the skin.

Converting it to aerosol in quantity would be difficult, and prone to dilution by environmental factors (although exploding it on the Tube might work). If not aerosol, it must be ingested somehow, and one quickly runs into problems of scale when one pursues this strategy.

I agree it's dangerous, though. But it's more dangerous for persons than it is for people, I think.

12/02/2006 07:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Buddy Larsen wrote, "So, had the deceased had just 'gone Muslim' according to anything other the neighbor, I wonder?"

When Carl Sagan died, an urban legend started floating around in evangelical circles that he had "accepted Christ" as his "personal Lord and Savior" just before boldly going where billions and billions had gone before.

12/02/2006 08:02:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...


You may be right; at least a month ago I would have certainly thought so.

But last month who would have thought of something as EXOTIC.

Things get stranger and stranger.

12/02/2006 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...


Read the earliest account given by his wife, wherein she reported his having "turned to the wall". There may be a message there.

12/02/2006 08:41:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

buddy larsen,

However Sagan ended, who can know on this side? One thing is certain, as is so often the case with those who refuse to bow to the conventional wisdom, he was readily enough labeled an atheist.

12/02/2006 08:44:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

hmmm..."turned to the wall" certainly covers a lot of the ground between the literal and the metaphorical, don't it?

12/02/2006 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...


Although my original scenario contemplated mass casualty incidents, suppose, instead, the only affected parties were the original recipients of the Polonium. Can you foresee the hysteria as that occasioned by the anthrax attacks of 2001? Moreover, since Polonium is as exotic to the average citizen as the plague was to Europeans, the panic might be just as great, while relatively harmless in outcome.

12/02/2006 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

This article is not breathtakingly brilliant; however, one quote should be especially encouraging to oft embattled and maligned Christians:

“In the 1960s the death of God was predicted with confidence…What the late liberal bishops did not believe, and what the secularists never knew, was that in a Christian country a religious death is generally succeeded by resurrection.”

Will the Christian soldiers let power go to their heads?


12/02/2006 10:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that's right, Allen. While the death count may be low, the primary threat is the hysteria that would follow an attack. Businesses shut down, people scared to travel, etc.

What a world, eh?

12/02/2006 10:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, if any are interested, I responded to Westhawk and Wretchard's build a Sunni Bridge strategy over at Marc Schulman's American Future.

Here's the link.

12/02/2006 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Allen--har--that Ruth Gledhill is so far behind the curve, she's not even a good self-parody. The people sense Islam, and so the churches are starting to re-fill, and she's still prancing her Mod cred, mocking the clods like it's 1968.

12/02/2006 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...


Note, in an charitable effort during this holiday season, I did say it was NOT a particularly brilliant article. But, you have to admit, that was a juicy quote, whether intended by the author or not.

The usual obiesence to our Muslim friends etc. etc. etc. could have not been otherwise, given the source.

12/02/2006 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

She lectures 'right-wing religious fundamentalists in America' to remember that Jesus was all about charity--wonder if she bothers to read things like "Those Greedy Americans"?

12/02/2006 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

"Amerikanische Verhaeltnisse":

12/02/2006 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

So, the message is, either let some guy with blue-green hair squeeze your butt, or you're a hateful hypocrite?

12/02/2006 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

buddy larsen,

Did you follow-up with the Goldberg link?

It's losing we hate, not war

“What the American people don't like is losing — lives or wars. After all, you don't hear many people complaining that we still have troops in Japan and Germany more than 20,000 days later.”

12/02/2006 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

buddy larsen,

Does sitting on Ronald McDonald's lap count as expiation for my hypocracy?

12/02/2006 11:00:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

I think he might say 'bless you, buy a BigMac'--?

12/02/2006 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

"Italy on Alert as Hysteria Grips Europe"

12/02/2006 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

We should all be ashamed. As we prattle on and on and begin to luxuriate in the Holiday season, one of the Earth’s truly great citizens is fighting against imminent shocking by the Grim Reaper (Repress, if you please). Of course, I speak of none other than Comrade Fidel Castro. The good man was too ill to attend his own birthday parade and deliver his customary four hour indictment of the West. He will be missed.

12/02/2006 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Since he has been a cancer on human rights, I think it's only humanly right that cancer is killing him in return. Adios, Fidel--burn in hell for me, wouldja, baby?

12/02/2006 11:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kim Jong Il---Moe

The Marxist Brothers

12/02/2006 01:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cedarford wrote, "The billionaire Jewish oligarchs who may have found his reputed conversion to Islam by his Chechen confederates unacceptable and determined he knew too much of their operations inside and outside Russia and Israel and remain alive."

A person's non-conversion to Islam can not guarantee his silence about the operations of the International Jewish Cabal, and a person's conversion to Islam would in any event trigger the Elders of Zion to put out a hit using a quicker Protocol than Polonium-210.

12/02/2006 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...


I'll have a helping of that chicken soup.

12/02/2006 02:06:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

...hold the botulism, tho

12/02/2006 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

And BTW, those "chicom economic reforms" are AKA "free enterprise".

12/02/2006 03:09:00 PM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

C-4, what do you do for a living?

12/02/2006 03:13:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Ford Motor Company engineer, is my guess.

12/02/2006 03:15:00 PM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

Ilook forward to Hu Dat's analysis.

12/02/2006 03:36:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

For those who have yet to read Chester’s latest, please do so. And, don’t be repulsed by the use of “ecosystem” in the article’s title; neither Al Gore nor Kyoto are mentioned even once. This churning of American policy in Iraq, as it affects the abandonment of a series of clearly failed “policies”, is starting to stimulate some first-rate analyses. Chester’s is one several recent products.

A Red Harvest in the "Conflict Ecosystem"

Regrettably, I have been unable to locate your comment; I was looking forward to it.

12/02/2006 03:43:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

buddy larsen said...
...hold the botulism, tho

Picky, Picky, Picky

12/02/2006 03:57:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

2164th said...
Ilook forward to Hu Dat's analysis.

On the soup or the nuts?

12/02/2006 03:59:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

the only nuts around here are the commenters

12/02/2006 04:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


That's my fault. I'm over there sans my blogospheric nom de plume (I'm posting under my real name, Kris Sargent).

Here's the link again.

It seems that Westhawk and I agree after all.

12/02/2006 04:12:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

"Plans are all right sometimes ... And sometimes just stirring things up is all right - if you're tough enough to survive, and keep your eyes open so you'll see what you want when it comes to the top."

(from the "Red Harvest" link)

12/02/2006 04:19:00 PM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

I have dedicated a link to the who is who problem here at the Belmont and EB.

12/02/2006 04:26:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

buddy larsen,

re: stirring things up

That may require more imagination than a plan, as Chester might agree.

re: nuts

Poor Doug is in London doing a dermatological workup, unable to defend himself.

But, with all the nomes de plume, it can be a little difficult to sort things out.

12/02/2006 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...


re: car batteries

You could be Dave Thomas, but I'm stiking with the chicken soup.

12/02/2006 05:54:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

I never stike with soup. in fact, i never stike at all, i don't even know how, or what it means.

12/02/2006 06:10:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...


I've fallen down and can't get up! That whole literacy thing is starting to look a little dubious.

12/02/2006 06:29:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...


re: stike cont'd

Could I have eaten a battery?

12/02/2006 06:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's "stike"?

12/02/2006 07:02:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

phonetically, it rhymes with "hike", i'll betcha. so it may or may not have to do with walking cross-country, or raising prices on goods.

12/02/2006 07:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh. Thought it rhymes with "steak". That got me stomach rumbling this morning.

Thanks for clearing that up.

12/02/2006 07:20:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

hell, i'd go ahead and eat, anyway, harrison, pending a better definition coming up.

12/02/2006 07:25:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

har--just caught the Oz bit, harrison--very good--3 different hits on the theme--you da champ!

12/02/2006 07:29:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

Let me see here.

This Polonium stuff is good for a poison that leaves a trail.

Normally poisoners don't want a trail.

Any way ricin is easier.

So the answer is: the Russians poisoned the guy and wanted it known they did the job.

Magic word: jzwra

12/02/2006 07:54:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

exactimonte--deterrence & intimidation, best way is to tag the hit unmistakeably, and then smile like Alfred E. neumann, "What, Me Worry?"

12/02/2006 08:16:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Alfred E. Gazprom.

12/02/2006 08:22:00 PM  
Blogger Oengus said...

Wretchard: "We are in a war for our lives"

Yup. However, Wretchard, while you may have your "Three Conjectures", I have what I call "The Three Cities Rule": America will have to lose a minimum of 3 cities before it truely wakes up to the situation.

12/03/2006 07:33:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

That may be passe, moonbones. Nov 07 may have changed all that. Keep an eye on the Dollar.

12/03/2006 07:41:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

why should the jihad give GWB a chance to strike back, when the long-term jihad goals are proceeding nicely, below the radar?

12/03/2006 07:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oengus Moonbones wrote, "I have what I call 'The Three Cities Rule': America will have to lose a minimum of 3 cities before it truely wakes up to the situation."

New Orleans was the first city, and November 7 was the first wake-up.

12/03/2006 07:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

M. Simon said, "So the answer is: the Russians poisoned the guy and wanted it known they did the job."

Russians also provide catering services to the International Space Station, so maybe the American astronauts better stick to their Tang and Slim Jims.

12/03/2006 08:30:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

o/t but a major digital breakthru reported @ maggie's:

Apple Computer reported today that it has developed computer chips
that can store and play music inside women's breasts.

This is considered a major breakthrough because women are always complaining that men stare at their breasts instead of listening to them.

12/03/2006 09:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Buddy Larsen said, "Apple Computer reported today that it has developed computer chips that can store and play music inside women's breasts."

Featuring such timeless classics as "Puttin' On The Titz","Thanks For The Mammory", and of course, "These Boobs Were Made For Watchin'"

12/03/2006 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

and the great Gene Kelly hit from 'American in Paris', "Saggin' in the Rain".

12/03/2006 12:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Knowin things have changed,
Somehow I can't forget.

12/03/2006 12:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

now you guys are famous at the Strata-Sphere.
We'll see if it gets me banned.

12/03/2006 01:00:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

in our dotage, what
can't be forgot
is not a lot


12/03/2006 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

a. Screw Fidel. May he die a wretched death, he's earned it...and it sounds as if he is.

b. "...before it truely wakes up to the situation." Then the real party will begin.

c. As to the Apple Computer report, sounds to me like the price of headphones just went WAY up....

12/03/2006 01:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dual Tweeters

12/03/2006 01:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One Woofer

12/03/2006 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

and a sub bass

12/03/2006 03:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the contrary,
just means they were not testing for alpha.

12/04/2006 06:34:00 PM  
Blogger The Wobbly Guy said...

As a chemist, I know there are chemicals easier to obtain and just as deadly as polonium. Inorganic chemists have known for a very long time now the toxicity of alkyl mercury compounds, one of the most deadly and easiest to produce being dimethylmercury, a sweet smelling liquid at room temperature.

The only saving grace we have is that toxic substances are often just as deadly to the manufacturers.

In Thailand, every year there is a water festival where people go around spraying water on one another.

You don't need me to connect the dots.

12/04/2006 10:25:00 PM  
Blogger Red River said...

Alpha radiation can barely penetrate paper.

PO is an Alpha emitter which ingested can then be distributed within the body where the Alpha radiation kills cells in close contact. Bone marrow, liver, pancreas, and nervous tissue get nailed.

The key to figuring out where the PO came from is the composition of the PO isotopes in the poison along with their half-lifes - combined with the signature of other elements in the sample.

Every ore body has its distinct signature as does each reactor as does each seperation process. Triangulation will be very quick.

Proof will be irrefutable.

12/05/2006 05:36:00 PM  

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