Defence analyst argues that Norway's police chief was not to blame for the intelligence failures of 22/7
As Norway continues to come to terms with Anders Behring Breivik's horrific terrorist attacks on July 22, 2011, heads are beginning to roll. The Norwegian government is determined to ride out the political storm and will be relieved when Breivik's trial is concluded at the end of the month. However, in the meantime there is very little is can do but accept its own security failings.
Øystein Maeland Director of the Norwegian National Police Directorate resigned on August 16 following the damning report into Brevik's actions. Maeland only took up post shortly before Brevik's attacks in Oslo and on Utøeya Island, so he can hardly have had time to become familiar with his responsibilities or the capabilities of the NPD.
Ironically the Norwegian Police Security Service, which is similar to Britain's MI5 and has been named and shamed for its shortcomings in responding to Breivik' s attacks, answers directly to the Minister of Justice and Police not the NPD. Crucial answers need to be provided by the PST's Central Unit or Den Sentrale Enhet, which is based in Oslo. The Norwegian government's Intelligence Oversight Committee also monitors the PST – so however you look at it, responsibility for Norway's greatest intelligence failure rests at the very heart of the government.
While accepting responsibility, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg has avoided saying that there will be any ministerial resignations. Yet someone has to be held accountable. Indeed it is Maeland who has taken the blame, by his own admission he has lost the confidence of his boss Grete Faremo, the Norwegian Minister of Justice and Police. Faremo announced Maeland's departure on Norwegian television. Ironically both were appointed in early 2011.
Maeland is a close political ally of Stoltenberg and his departure will leave Stoltenberg exposed. Many now feel that the days of Stoltenberg's second term in office are numbered. Likewise Grete Faremo must be worried about her political future, previously she worked as the Norwegian Minister of Defence and some might argue should have surely known better. Ultimately, the failure of the PST surely rests at the feet of Faremo and not Maeland.
Meanwhile Breivik's actions continue to have unwelcome repercussions across Europe and there are concerns that he has become a poster boy for some extremist elements of the European far-right. On August 10, 2012, Czech Police arrested a man in the city of Ostrava who was reportedly preparing a copycat attack inspired by Breivik.Anthony Tucker-Jones is a former intelligence analyst and writes as a correspondent for 'intersec - The Journal of International Security' and defencemanagement.com