Norway: “We could have stopped Breivik”
14 August 2012
In its report submitted on 13 August, an independent commission tasked with the inquiry into the Oslo bombing and the Utøya massacre, which killed 77 people, has concluded that the terrorist attacks perpetrated on July 22 last year by right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik could have been avoided.
On its front page, Aftenposten sums up the findings of the report: “The July 22 Commission has concluded that the bomb attack could have been avoided, and that police could have reached Utøya earlier. Many lives could have been spared.” According to the newspaper, the commission chaired by lawyer Alexandra Bech Gjørv found that authorities did not take the threat of a bomb attack seriously. However, notes the daily, “the application of existing security measures” would have been sufficient to prevent the attack on government buildings.” Worse still, “the police could realistically have intervened more rapidly” on the island of Utøya, where Breivik massacred members of the youth wing of the Labour Party after having detonated the explosive device that devastated the centre of Oslo. Finally, Norwegian intelligence services should have been alerted about Breivik’s extremist ideas and arrested him. The report has prompted outspoken criticism in the Norwegian press –
The negligence revealed by the commission is the result of the lack of a culture of leadership that is engrained both in politics and public administration.
Stoltenberg has assumed responsibility for the consequences of July 22. He has a majority in parliament and will have the option of remaining in office. But he should have the dignity to step down.