More than a year ago the Norwegian government established the July 22 commission to investigate the causes of Anders Behring Breivik’s massacre in downtown Oslo and on the island of Utøya. The commission was tasked with finding out why the government, the security services, and the police were unable to prevent the Butcher of Utøya from carrying out his murders, or stop him before he killed 77 people.
As reported here last week, the commission’s report was leaked to the press in advance. Yesterday it was released officially, and for the past twenty-four hours the political fallout from the report has been settling over Oslo.
There have been numerous calls for Prime Minister Stoltenberg to resign, given the responsibility the report assigned to him and his government for their gross incompetence and general negligence in their failure to prevent the massacre from reaching such a gruesome magnitude.
Our Norwegian correspondent The Observer has translated an editorial from a major Norwegian daily calling for the prime minister’s resignation. The translator includes this note:
After the July 22 commission’s report was released on Monday there have been a number of people, some of them politicians, suggesting that Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg should step down as a result of the failure of… well, pretty much everyone in a position of power who should have prevented such an attack.
Unfortunately, however, I don’t think it’s going to happen. From when he was quite young Jens Stoltenberg has been groomed to become the leader of the Labour Party and prime minister of Norway. He comes from a powerful political family, and they have powerful friends. The fact that AUF (the Labour Party youth organisation) was involved in fraud under his leadership and the fact that in his younger day he was a radical lefty who threw rocks at the American embassy in Oslo didn’t prevent him from achieving his goal. The right connections get you a long way in Norway.
Another thing to remember is that Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg is a weak person. He’s not a natural leader, and he dislikes direct confrontation, which is probably one of the reasons for the mess that Norway is in at the moment. Stoltenberg is incapable of making pragmatic and unpopular decisions. He doesn’t like to step on people’s toes. But, to be fair, there are hundreds of others just like him in the corridors of power in Oslo.
Norway would probably be better off if our government were randomly selected from the telephone directory. It certainly couldn’t be any worse off.
The translated editorial from VG.no:
VG says: Stoltenberg should resign
The report delivered by the July 22 Commission is unambiguous. The bomb explosion at Government Square could have been prevented. The killer at Utøya could have been stopped.
The institutions that were meant to protected the country and its citizens failed. The government could not have been handed a more damning verdict. They failed. They failed us all.
The perpetrator who caused the death and suffering last summer bears sole responsibility for the violence and the pain that he inflicted on all hose innocent human beings. No one else but the child-killer is to blame.
The task of the July 22 Commission has been to look at how the terrorist was able to plan and carry out the bloody campaign without running into any significant obstacles.
Why wasn’t he apprehended by the PST? Why was he able to park a van full of explosives in the heart of the political centre of Norway? Why wasn’t he stopped en route to Utøya, and why was he able to continue executing children long after the alarm had been sounded?
The report goes through all the events of Friday July 22, 2011, trying to determine if anything could or should have been done differently. The conclusion of the report is shocking.
The report finds that there has been no shortage of plans and procedures to deal with a terrorist scenario, but that there has been a lack of ability to implement these recommendations. A lack of ability and a general unwillingness to do so. There are people in important positions in Norway who do not understand the responsibility that has been entrusted to them. A more frightening diagnosis of the state of the kingdom than the July 22 Commission’s report has never been given.
Our authorities have not been able to protect us, due to incompetence, insufficient implementation of explicit recommendations, and by ignoring specific contingency plans. Add to the equation that the police are equipped with outdated technology, are afflicted with poor communication routines and characterized by poor internal discipline and are rife with inter departmental rivalry.
Add it all up and it reeks of incompetence, and what’s more is that it’s completely intolerable if this doesn’t have consequences for those in authority with formal responsibility.
Yesterday we witnessed an increasingly pressured Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg squirm in obvious discomfort when the questions of responsibility and trust became too direct. He has stated that he recognizes the responsibility for the consequences of 22 July. Stoltenberg is prime minister of a majority government and thus has the power to remain in power, but he should have the decency to resign.
He has said he recognizes the responsibility for the consequences of 22 July.