Defending the 12th century since the 14th; blogging since the 21st.

Catholicism, Conservatism, the Middle Ages, Opera, and Historical and Literary Objets d'Art blogged by a suburban dad who teaches law and writes stuff.

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Who was Cacciaguida? See Dante's PARADISO, Cantos XV, XVI, & XVII.

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Thursday, November 23, 2006
Litvinenko has died.

Why did it take ten days for the hospital to do toxicological tests?

It may have looked like common food poisoning at first -- Lenin's Cheka, and its successors, the KGB and today's FSB, have traditionally designed their poisons that way (see op-ed in 11/22 WSJ, not on line) -- but, in this day and age when massive testing is routine, if only for liability purposes, why did a sudden "violent" illness in a Russian defector known to be investigating the current regime's crimes not provoke any heightened suspicion?

What did these docs say to themselves -- "Gor'blimey, just another one of 'em Russian dissident blokes -- no need for any special worries about 'im"? Would they have diagnosed Anna Politskovskaya as having "excessive leaden missile intake"?

Why did they at first confirm, and later rule out, thallium?

ETA 1. "Sasha" Letvinenko's last statement, as dictated to a friend; plus his father's statement. Worthwhile.

ETA 2. It was polonium-210, not thallium -- at least for now. In the linked article, the Financial Times adds:
Tiny amounts of polonium-210 – made in nuclear reactors – are used in a few industrial processes but obtaining a lethal dose would be beyond the means of a lone poisoner.

...In the memorable words of Andrea Sella, a chemist at University College London: “My gut that whoever did this wanted not only to harm him but also to send a spectacular message to others – mess with us and we make you die a lingering death.”
ETA 3. And meanwhile, Russian rocket deliveries to Iran started. (Reminds me of a recent conversation I had with a friend whom you might call a Russophilic Islam-hawk. He said: "Russia will tell us, 'Hey, everyone's entitled to one terrorist ally, and yours is Saudia Arabia.'" The truth hurts.)

ETA 4: NRO's Jim Geraghty receives a message (scroll down), from an e-mail account at the European Court of Justice, hinting vaguely that the Letvinenko and Politskovskaya cases are linked to the "neocons" and the "Israel lobby." So, gradually, "never again" keeps turning into "maybe next Tuesday."

ETA 5:
"If this regime falls, and I think it will fall, because a regime with no morality and conscience is doomed, then the street where Alexander was born in the city of Voronezh will be named after him. He will always be in our hearts and in the hearts of the Russian people."

-- Walter Letvinenko