Norwegian politicians have been repeatedly criticized for failing to secure some of the country’s most venerable institutions from a terrorist attack. Now the state government is being blasted once again, for not making sufficient progress since the last round of criticism.
City and county officials have been targets of criticism as well. The state auditor general’s office released its latest batch of scathing criticism this week, claiming that the state government has failed to follow up on deficiencies cited last year. The situation was described as “extremely serious.”
That prompted opposition parties in Parliament, including the Christian Democrats and Labour, to charge that Prime Minister Erna Solberg and her government have tried to gloss over the deficiences. They also blasted claims made by Solberg just before last autumn’s parliamentary elections that preparedness against terror had become “considerably better.” According to the auditor general, it has not.
Plans were recently unveiled for new security measures around the Royal Palace, but critics claim the Parliament building itself remains vulnerable. Neither the police nor the military will secure other installations, nor has the justice ministry (in charge of preparedness) allocated enough financing for better preparedness.
Defense Minister Frank Bakke Jensen claimed progress had been made, stressing it will “still take time” before preparedness is considered adequate. The former left-center government led by Labour was also blasted in its time for ignoring preparedness, which allowed a right-wing extremist to drive a van right up to government headquarters downtown and set off a bomb that destroyed the complex, killed eight people and injured many others. The same extremist went on to gun down 69 people on the island of Utøya, where Labour’s youth organization was holding its annual summer camp on July 22, 2011.