Wednesday, 6 December 2006

Boris Berezovsky and the Bizarro Effect

In a world turned upside down, the gangsters are the "good" guys

by Justin Raimondo

When I first put forward my thesis that we are suffering from what I call the Bizarro Effect – the inversion of moral laws as well as the rules of logic – it was just a hypothetical, a tentative assessment of the consequences of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I wasn't absolutely sure that the sheer force of those planes hitting the World Trade Center and the Pentagon had torn a hole in the space-time continuum and plunged us into a Bizarro World alternate universe, where up is down, right is wrong, and Satan sits on the throne of heaven. But the evidence kept piling up, as the Bizarro Effect spread outward from its starting points in lower Manhattan and Washington, D.C. It is now a worldwide phenomenon and spreading fast. Let's take a tour, then, of the world's hot spots, where the Effect is accelerating beyond anything yet seen…

First stop – London, site of the world's first nuclear terrorist attack, where one Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB agent turned whacked-out conspiracy theorist, was poisoned with radioactive polonium. From his deathbed, Litvinenko pointed the finger at Russian President Vladimir Putin and the FSB, the Russian intelligence service.

Never mind that this makes absolutely no sense – that Putin would have to be crazy to order or countenance such an attack, that Russia had nothing to gain from it and everything to lose. Kindly disregard the total lack of evidence implicating the Russian state, and please do your best to ignore the shady character of the victim and his billionaire Russian oligarch patron, whose criminal career was well-documented by the late Paul Klebnikov. (After his fascinating expose, The Godfather of the Kremlin, was published, Klebnikov was knocked off by unknown assailants.)

As Ayn Rand once said: Don't bother to examine a folly – ask yourself only what it accomplishes. Litvinenko's bizarre death has launched a tidal wave of Russophobic hysteria: editorialists the world over are virtually frothing at the mouth, demanding Putin's head, and the politicians aren't far behind. Fox News interviewed Senators Joe Biden and Lindsey Graham the other day, and here is what they had to say about the Litvinenko affair:

"Question, and I'll start with you, Senator Biden: Do you believe – I understand it's speculation, but do you believe that Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, is involved? And whether we can prove that or not, how should it affect our relations with Russia?

"BIDEN: Well, I don't know whether he's involved, but our relations with Russia have to get straightened out to begin with. Russia is moving more and more toward an oligarchy here. Putin is consolidating power. He's been doing it for the last six years. We have basically been giving him a bye. I think that Russia is sliding further away from genuine democracy and a free-market system and more toward a command economy and the control of a single man. So I'm not a big fan of Putin's, and I think we should have a direct confrontation with Putin politically about the need for him to change his course of action.

"GRAHAM: I think Joe is right on."

This trope of "I don't know if he did it, but…" is the common thread running through this particular bout of war propaganda, and it's everywhere: read this commentary by Anne Applebaum and see if you don't catch the same theme of factual ambiguity and moral certitude.

Full story...

Monday, 4 December 2006

Scarlett's MI6 Comes to the Rescue in Litvinenko Case

by Trowbridge H. Ford

Thanks for having the guts to post my article about the West's Russophobes wanting to pin the murder of Alexander Litvinenko on Moscow - what is becoming an all-out effort by Britain's MI6 which started it all by allowing Agent John Scarlett, now its Director General, to bring out Vasili Mitrokhin's Archive and family in the first place.

The Mitrokhin Archive did not turn out to be what he expected, an exposing of the KGB's remaining, undisclosed spies, especially in Italy, and he became increasing disillusioned, especially when Christopher Andrew's The Sword and The Shield appeared. Instead of identifying spies like UCHITEL aka Romano Prodi, it put Anglo-America spin on everything from the Soviets getting the bomb to Pope John Paul II's torpedoing the USSR.

Increasingly Mitrokhin discussed his disappointment with fellow defector Litvinenko, and ultimately, it seems, Mitrokhin was either killed by British agents or killed himself, a process which resulted in Scarlett, the discredited chairman of the JIC, who saw to the outing of former UNSCOM WMD weapons inspector Dr. David Kelly - what led to his assassination - being named unprecedentally the new SIS director in order to keep the killing from going out of control. And note that it took Andrew 10 days to write an obituary for the disillusioned defector though he had allegedly died from pneumonia.

When Litvinenko threatened this whole process by going to Gerard Batten, a British member of the European Parliament in Brussels, and his threatening to tell all about Mitrokhin's undisclosed information and complaints, his assassination was arranged with disinformation from especially Rome, the means apparently from Israel, and the opportunity in Britain - what the assassins were so confident they could pull off without any blowback. Unfortunately, they did not figure on their activities being retraced by the alpha residue from the polonium-210.

In this context, the British intelligence services were obliged to get other defectors to claim that the Russians were simply behind the murder. Oleg Gordievsky, who had been recruited and run by Scarlett and MI5's director Eliza Manningham-Buller, claimed that it was just a repeat of what they had done to Georgi Markov back in the 1970s. (And note here that Andrew's explanation of Markov's murder is without any reference to Mitrokhin's Archive. (Notes, p. 640, number 78)

When this disinformation did not stem claims and suspicions of a darker plot, Scarlett and Manningham-Buller were obliged to pull out all the stops in the hope of stemming the hemorrhaging. Julia Svetlichnaja, a Russian national, Ph.D. student at London's University of Westminster, claimed that Litvinenko might have done himself in because of all this threats of blackmailing those who various illegal activities had been exposed in more recent KGB files he had garnered.

More important, Yuri Shvets, the Tass reporter who had helped cover up the assassination of Olof Palme after he emigrated to the USA, volunteered to the FBI who he knew had killed Litvinenko. Shvets knew all about the spying for the Soviets by the Agency's Rick Ames and the Bureau's Robert Hanssen - dismissing it simply as self-serving efforts by most egotistical persons - what earned the greatest gratitude from the American intelligence community because their spying had prevented the assassination from triggering WWIII.

Shvets, also claimed in Washinton Station, that Vitali Yurchenko, a genuine defector according to him, had told of a similar poison murder by the Soviets. Actually, Yurchenko was the cleverest alleged defector, selling the Americans with some throwaway admissions and deceptions, while determining Ames's bona fides and taking back double agent Valeri Martynov to his doom in Moscow for plotting the USSR's destruction at Palme's expense.

Now Shvets is being most secretive about who he is claiming killed Litvinenko, though it must be military prosecutor Alexander Volevodz, the alleged "mafia enforcer", who tried to get high-flying Russian banker Alexander Konanykhine sent back to Russia in 1997, frustrating what the Clinton administration and Yeltsin's oligarchs wanted. Shvets' claim, though, just seems a bit of retaliation against a foe he has already bested.

Where this will all end up is anyone's guess, but I suspect that Brits, as usual when it comes to troublesome murders, will conclude that the vengeful Litvinenko sought too much through his extravagant claims, and, as a result, killed himself - just like Dr. Kelly - but this one was much cleaner, requiring no new Hutton Inquiry.