Justice minister, PST also admit flaws

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Norway’s police intelligence unit PST and Justice Minister Grete Faremo are both admitting that sharp criticism of their work in connection with the terrorist attacks of July 22 has been justified. Faremo also apologized that Norway’s worst mass-murderer ever wasn’t stopped early enough.

Faremo is the ultimate boss of both the state police and PST (Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste). She was still defense minister when the attacks occurred last summer, but took over for then-Justice Minister Knut Storberget in November and has since taken responsibility for improving Norway’s preparedness for terror and other crises.

“We must go through all our warning systems and our management of systems,” Faremo told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) Thursday afternoon. “We were not well-enough prepared on July 22.”

Time to say they’re sorry
Her remarks followed an apology earlier in the day from the director of state police Øystein Mæland that’s been described as “historic” in Norway. It’s the first time the police have publicly said they’re sorry that it took them so much time to arrest confessed terrorist Anders Behring Breivik at the scene of his massacre on the island of Utøya. Breivik also bombed Norway’s government headquarters in Oslo, and his attacks killed 77 persons. Hundreds more were injured and traumatized. His trial will begin April 16.

Faremo also said she “fully understands all the questions the survivors and victims’ families have. Now we have a clearer picture of how things happened. This will also give us a better foundation for continuing work to improve preparedness.”

PST also criticizes itself
Newspaper Aftenposten reported Thursday that PST also plans to sharply criticize its own anti-terrorism efforts in an eternal evaluation due to be released on Friday. PST spokesman Martin Bernsen said the report will, among other things, study how PST could have followed leads into Brevik’s terror preparations, which went on for months, even years, before he struck on July 22.

PST’s report is expected to focus on the gathering, handling and coordination of information it received before and after the July 22 attacks. Lasse Roen of PST told Aftenposten that the report will be self-critical and offer proposals for improvements.

There was widespread acceptance of the police apologies in Parliament on Thursday, with several top politicians calling them “necessary” and important.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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