A report on the official handling of the Breivik massacre was commissioned last summer by the Norwegian government. Next week — more than a year after it was commissioned — the report will be formally released. Not surprisingly, it has been leaked to the press in advance.
Our Norwegian correspondent The Observer has translated an article from the Norwegian MSM about the July 22 report. The translator includes this introduction:
This article is about the official report authored by the July 22 Commission that will be presented at a press conference next Monday. VG has been in contact with sources that have read the report (quite possibly members of the commission) and they have consequently decided to present some of the findings of the commission in this article.
As you already know, and which is also heavily corroborated in this article, lots of things went wrong on that fateful day. It seems that the criticism is being directed at the right individuals this time, which is somewhat surprising, considering that Norwegian government-appointed committees normally are mouthpieces for the authorities.
One of the reasons why so much went wrong on July 22, 2011 is the way in which Norwegian society is organized today. No one occupies a leading position in an official state agency/department unless they have the right political opinions and are willing to play by the rules laid out by the authorities, meaning that they cannot express opposition to any of the directions or wishes of the authorities. Question the official line, and there’s no way that you’ll land a high position regardless of how qualified you may be for the job.
Another reason for the dismal rescue effort that tragic day is the fact that over the last thirty years the police in Norway have been transformed from being an active and proper police force doing traditional police work into a department made up mostly of pencil-pushers. Police cadets are chosen solely for their high school grades and ‘correct attitudes’, and not necessarily for their suitability for the job. Masculinity and assertiveness are discouraged these days. Instead, gender/minority quotas are emphasised, and peaceful conflict resolution is the big rave.
All the competent police chiefs in Norway are gone, and in their place are career-minded people whose sole ambition is to rise within the ranks, and not necessarily to prevent crime. If you also take into account the official mantra about “dialogue” and the constant pressure to conform, you start to get the picture.
The translated article from today’s VG:
The July 22 Commission slams the police
- Highlights major weaknesses within the police force
- Harsh criticism of the police response on July 22
- Challenges the police’s own report about the incident
The Commission delivers a devastating indictment of the Norwegian police in the report which criticizes everyone — from the Government down to individual officers. According to sources VG Nett has been in contact with, the names of individual police officers are not mentioned in the report.
The report, which comprises 20 chapters and consists of several hundred pages, identifies several factors which resulted in the dismal official response on July 22. The report will be released on Monday at 1 pm.
Due to a poorly coordinated response effort, three hours and nine minutes elapsed after the explosion in the government square until Anders Breivik Behring was finally captured on Utøya.
By then 77 people had lost their lives and hundreds more had been injured.
The July 22 Commission also concludes that civil defence in Norway has been neglected during the term of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (Labour, 2005-present).
A succession of failures
The leader of the July 22 commission, Alexandra Bech Gjørv, who was given the task of producing the report on August 10 of last year, declined to give a statement to VG Nett. According to information that VG has received, the Commission has spent considerable time and effort trying to identify the root causes of why so much went horribly wrong on July 22 last year.
The Commission will unveil new and previously undisclosed facts that run contrary to information which has already been presented in reports by other agencies — such as the police and PST [state security police].
VG Nett has also been informed that the report will deliver a devastating verdict on the actions of the police. It will reveal a succession of failures that include flawed procedures, lack of technology, insufficient regulatory framework, mismanagement and indecision.
Awaiting the report
Former police director Ingelin Killengreen, who stepped down from the position six months prior to the terrorist attack, is largely held responsible for the overall weaknesses in organization, planning, preparedness and staffing.
Mrs. Killengreen is now secretary of the Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs, which is tasked with the responsibility of maintaining security in government square.
“She is awaiting the Commission’s report and is not going to comment on the leaks,” says Frode Jacobsen, a spokesperson for the ministry, in an SMS message to VG.
The Commission has concluded that the following factors severely compromised the way the police handled the events at government square and Utøya July 22 last year.
The Commission was especially surprised that the state of the Norwegian police was so consistently inadequate and unacceptable.
Here are some of the Commission’s findings, according to sources VG Nett have been in contact with:
- The Commission is left with the impression that the various emergency services essentially prevented each other from reaching Utøya.
- PST had not implemented standard routines that would have detected information from the Customs Department that Breivik had ordered ingredients that could be used to make a bomb.
- Recommendations from police exercises were not followed up, despite their having revealed major shortcomings in preparedness.
- Police failed to notify the Traffic Surveillance Centre (TSC) after the bomb exploded. TSC has live cameras on several of the major roads in and around Oslo. They also have the capability to bring the traffic to a complete stop. This resource was not used on July 22.
- The message about the possible getaway vehicle in Møllergata in Oslo was ignored for too long by the staff at the operations centre.
- The police failed to use the media to inform the public about the licence plate on Breivik’s getaway car and the fact that he was wearing a police uniform.
- The official emergency response network was at the time in the process of being upgraded and the Commission wonders why this work has still not been completed.
- The police helicopter was out of commission on July last year. The Ministry of Justice had been informed about this by the Chief of Police in Oslo, Anstein Gjengedal. What was even more blameworthy was that the helicopter wasn’t immediately recommissioned by the police.
- Asker and Bærum Police District was too passive in the aftermath of the bombing. As a neighbouring police district to Oslo, Asker and Bærum PD could have implemented several tactical measures.
- July 22 revealed that the police operations centres are not sufficiently staffed. Inexperienced personnel were left to make crucial decisions during a very critical phase.
- The first officers who arrived at Utvik beach did not follow the proper instructions for ‘shooting in progress’; that is, they did not head directly over to the island and stop Breivik. Instead one of them started to direct the traffic on the main road passing through the area.
- It was regrettable that the police stopped the traffic on the main road running parallel to Utvik beach as those who were in the area then ran the risk of being shot at.
- The Commission has also revealed major shortcomings in official police procedures for forwarding and sharing critical information between agencies and individual officers.