Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Only Reliable Lie Detector Ever Invented

The formidable Charles Krauthammer writes in the Washington Post about “That Murder In London”:

The poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, renegade Russian spy and fierce critic of Vladimir Putin’s government, is everywhere being called a mystery. There is dark speculation about unnamed “rogue elements” either in the Russian secret services or among ultranationalists acting independently of the government. There are whispers about the indeterminacy of things in the shadowy netherworld of Russian exile politics, crime and espionage.

Well, you can believe in indeterminacy. Or you can believe the testimony delivered on the only reliable lie detector ever invented — the deathbed — by the victim himself. Litvinenko directly accused Putin of killing him.

Litvinenko knew more about his circumstances than anyone else. And on their deathbeds, people don’t lie. As Machiavelli said (some attribute this to Voltaire), after thrice refusing the entreaties of a priest to repent his sins and renounce Satan, “At a time like this, Father, one tries not to make new enemies.”

In science, there is a principle called Occam’s razor. When presented with competing theories for explaining a natural phenomenon, one adopts the least elaborate. Nature prefers simplicity. Scientists do not indulge in grassy-knoll theories. You don’t need a convoluted device to explain Litvinenko’s demise.

Do you think Anna Politkovskaya, the journalist who was investigating the war in Chechnya, was shot dead in her elevator by rogue elements? What about Viktor Yushchenko, the presidential candidate in Ukraine and eventual winner, poisoned with dioxin during the campaign, leaving him alive but disfigured? Ultranationalist Russians?

Opponents of Putin have been falling like flies. Some jailed, some exiled, some killed. True, Litvinenko’s murder will never be traced directly to Putin, no matter how dogged the British police investigation. State-sponsored assassinations are almost never traceable to the source. Too many cutouts. Too many layers of protection between the don and the hit man

Read it all.

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