Required Reading for the Day – Litvinenko Revisited

The Specter that Haunts the Death of Litvinenko, by Edward Epstein (The New York Sun via Russia Today)

Well, it’s actually two days old, but I surprisingly haven’t heard anyone talking/blogging about this. It’s an in-depth piece by an investigative journalist who (*gasp*) actually went to Russia and got access to the British files related to the investigation. Epstein examines the critical question left out of most western coverage of Litvinenko’s death: “[W]hy would anyone use a nuclear weapon to kill an individual, when a knife, bullet, or conventional poison would do the trick more quickly, efficiently, and certainly?” Epstein also looks into the timeline of the ‘murder.’ Specifically, he points out that Litvinenko met with Mario Scaramella at the Itsu sushi bar (slogan: ‘health and happiness’) before meeting with Andrei Lugovoi, who everyone accuses of poisoning Litvinenko. Moreover, the sushi bar and Scaramella were both contaminated, which “means that Litvinenko had been tainted by the Polonium-210 before he met Mr. Lugovoi as [sic] the Pine Bar.”

Epstein’s conclusion: “After considering all the evidence, my hypothesis is that Litvinenko came in contact with a Polonium-210 smuggling operation and was, either wittingly or unwittingly, exposed to it.”

Here’s another article from Time, which I think ties into this and illustrates how insane our Russia policy is. The gist of the article is that the United States “continues to assign a higher priority to programs designed to confront conventional military threats, such as ballistic missiles,” but not on more unconventional threats like loose nuclear materials (e.g., Polonium-210). Indeed, instead of recognizing the real threat in the Litvinenko affair – the international black market for nuclear bomb components – it was instead erroneously and outrageously blamed on ‘the Kremlin,’ which in turn justifies the prioritization of conventional threats (e.g., Russia).

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