One Year After The Breivik Massacre, Norway Continues To Fight Terrorism With Democracy, Openness And Love

from the everyone-else-in-the-world-take-notes dept

 It's been a little over a year since Anders Breivik committed the greatest act of terrorism in Norway's history. The response to the horrific violence was completely unexpected. In a world where most countries would consider drafting major legislation and beefing up security, Norway's response seemed almost out-of-touch with the "real world."
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg pledged to do everything to ensure the country's core values were not undermined. "The Norwegian response to violence is more democracy, more openness and greater political participation," he said.
It's a pretty much unprecedented statement. One needs to look no further than the US government's reaction to the 9/11 tragedy to see an example of the standard M.O. Starting with the PATRIOT Act, the US government quickly turned the country into an echo chamber that subscribes to a culture of fear. This has allowed various government entities to insinuate themselves into nearly every aspect of Americans' lives at the expense of civil liberties and privacy.

One year down the road in Norway is a completely different story. As was pledged by Stoltenberg, the Norwegians have pushed forward with more openness and democracy. (via)
There have been no changes to the law to increase the powers of the police and security services, terrorism legislation remains the same and there have been no special provisions made for the trial of suspected terrorists. On the streets of Oslo, CCTV cameras are still a comparatively rare sight and the police can only carry weapons after getting special permission. Even the gate leading to the parliament building in the heart of Oslo remains open and unguarded.
"It is still easy to get access to parliament and we hope it will stay that way, " said Lise Christoffersen, a Labour party MP.
No one's rights were eroded, including the man at the center of the tragedy, Anders Breivik. He was treated no differently than any other prisoner and was given five days in court to tell his side of the story and lay out his ideas and motivations. Many critics believe this sort of unchallenged testimony would allow Breivik to glorify his actions and push his agenda, which they feared would inspire copycat acts of violence. Instead of falling prey to this mindset, officials felt that Breivik would do more harm to his own ideology by speaking openly than by being forced to sit quietly as an appointed mouthpiece spoke for him.
Cato Shiotz, a senior criminal lawyer, says having an open trial has enabled the Norwegian people to make their own informed judgement about Breivik.
"I think Breivik has done more harm to the radical right than he has benefited them," said Mr Shiotz. "His ideas now have less support than ever before."
Norway wants to combat terrorism in a new way. Rather than reacting to a terrorist act with draconian laws and increased security and surveillance, the country has opted to take the high ground and simply be "better" than their enemies. Many countries make statements to this effect, but most make the mistake of confusing a hardline "we don't negotiate with terrorists" stance with "taking the high road." Norway makes no such error.
"The only way to really combat terror is to show that we are better than them," says Jan Egeland, a former official in the Norwegian foreign ministry and now deputy head of Human Rights Watch.

"Their (the terrorists') whole point is to create shock and fear and get us to leave our liberal values…and lure us over to their shadowy part of the playing field… we should not let them win."
Unsurprisingly, Norway is not impressed with the US government's response to terrorism.
Mr Egeland is highly critical of how other countries, particularly the United States, have dealt with the terrorist threats they face, arguing that methods such as extraordinary rendition, the creation of the special prison for terrorist suspects in Guantanamo and the sanctioning of what is generally viewed as torture, have all been counter-productive.
"The whole (US) struggle against terror lost the moral high ground, You could see how public opinion was lost in Turkey, in Jordan, in moderate countries all over the Middle East," he said.
As the article points out, Breivik acted alone, not as part of a larger network. While a large network does change the dynamic of the threat, it hardly seems to justify the assumption that an isolated incident is an "act of war." Even worse, this assumption has led the US into a state of perpetual war against unseen, unnamed enemies with only the barest of threads holding the factions together. While Egeland insists that Norway wouldn't fall into the same pattern the US did post-9/11, he admits that he can't be certain the country would have "stood the test" as well as it has the Breivik massacre, if it was instead faced with a murky enemy located outside the country.

But all in all, the Norwegian response is more likely to unite its citizens against abhorrent acts of terrorism than it is to drive a wedge between the government and the governed. Openness is something the US sorely lacks, and despite 11 years and a change of presidents, there seems to be very little improvement on the horizon. No government can guarantee the safety of its citizens against unforeseen attacks, but certainly a culture of openness, democracy and love is preferable to a culture of fear and reprisal, carried out in the name of protection.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 6:26am

    Data retention

    Wrong, Norway's intelligence agency wants to expand the data retention law to cover websites and discussion forums.

     

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      Ninja (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 6:38am

      Re: Data retention

      [citation needed]

      I do remember reading that somewhere though. In any case, they are doing it more right than wrong so far. We need to encourage such behavior.

       

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 6:29am

    "Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg pledged to do everything to ensure the country's core values were not undermined. "The Norwegian response to violence is more democracy, more openness and greater political participation," he said."

    Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg sounds like a very sensible man, but the cynic in me suggests this is the public face and he is actually plotting more nefarious measures in secret.

    That could just be my anti politician bias talking though.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 6:30am

    I wonder if the Obama administration is going to put out some sort of bizarre statement condemning Norway for not winning enough Pyrrhic victories against the abstract concept of terrorism? I wouldn't put it past 'em.

     

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    relghuar, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 6:37am

    ...democracy and love is preferable...

    You mean preferable from the point of view of government that has a much easier job expanding its control in a culture of fear and reprisal? ;-)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 6:49am

    this was a truly abhorrent event. the US govt and law enforcement bodies are not the only ones in the only country that have reacted in the opposite way to Norway. the number of countries that have done so much to ramp up as far as possible the 'looking after the people' laws, like constant surveillance, checking mail, phone calls and txt messages, as well as location of almost everyone. the lengths the US, the UK and elsewhere have gone to to increase security is astonishing and will eventually cause the various govts downfall. yes, people want to feel safe but they dont want to feel as if they have no privacy, no freedom and nothing they can do without being under a microscope. problem is, these law changes etc are not to keep people safe, they are to keep govts safe and stop anyone from speaking out and demonstrating against them.

     

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    Steve C, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 7:02am

    He's Right

    Let us not forget that the purpose of terrorism, at it's most basic, is simply to provoke terror and effect change in the target.

    If you look at it from that perspective Osama Bin Laden got everything he ever hoped for, massive change in the American way of life, massive disruption to the American economy, several wars that showed American imperialism at it's worst in the part of the world that is most receptive to anti-American sentiment. And last but certainly not least he became a martyr for the cause.

    If you take all that and all the things that attack and subsequent changes in the US did then the only logical conclusion is that the terrorists won.

    Norway has it exactly right: punish those responsible but don't treat them as special in any way. And most importantly DO NOT REACT in the way that the terrorists want you to react. If you do, they won.

     

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      Richard (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 7:17am

      Re: He's Right

      Norway has it exactly right: punish those responsible but don't treat them as special in any way. And most importantly DO NOT REACT in the way that the terrorists want you to react. If you do, they won.

      Go through airport security almost anywhere in the world and you will see that the terrorists HAVE won.

      For the last 10 years they have ratcheted up the security annoyance level throughout the world with a succession of "unsuccessful" (pathetic is a better word) attacks.

      These have resulted in us having to remove our shoes (shoe bomber), carry no liquids in hand luggage, (liquid plot) and submit to humiliating body scanners and/or groping (underpants bomber).

      Note that to threaten these attacks has turned out to be much easier than actually making them work - proving the old chess adage "a threat is more powerful than its execution."

      Having said that - I note that in Norway you are not required to remove laptops from hand luggage, correction, you are required not to remove laptops from hand luggage.

       

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        Richard (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 7:23am

        Re: Re: He's Right

        Note that even if successful these attacks would have amounted to mere noise in the air accident death figures. Given that civilian aircrashes are a statistically insignificant risk we would have been much better off simply ignoring terrorism.

        Compute the number of useful life hours lost in security queues and you will see that it far exceeds those that would have been lost if the plots had succeeded.

         

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        Mason Wheeler, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 7:30am

        Re: Re: He's Right

        Laptops. Now that makes me wonder.

        The shoe bomber, the liquid bomber, the underwear bomber and all the rest--they weren't successful, but they show that there *are* still terrorists out there who are actively trying to bring down planes in flight.

        Well, you fly on a plane, and they tell you that you have to turn off your laptop for takeoff and landing. Apparently they think it generates some magical "interference" that could cause the plane to crash--even though this idea has been thoroughly debunked as far back as the 1980s.

        But if science won't convince them, how about a simple appeal to common sense? You can close a laptop and leave it running. It will look like it's off, and if you're not running the CPU too hard, the fan won't make any noise. No one but you would know it's actually still on, and it's not at all difficult to do.

        If it were possible for a laptop to bring down a plane, some terrorist would have done it by now. But they haven't, because it's not. So why do we still have this ridiculous rule in force every time we fly?

         

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        oletorjus (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 5:21pm

        Re: Re: He's Right

        just a quick note on the laptops and the hand luggage, however that might be important - you do need to remove your laptop from your handluggage when passing through airport security in Norway, just as anywhere else. I know this because well, I am a Norwegian living in Norway. Just to clarify! :)

         

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          Richard (profile), Jul 27th, 2012 @ 9:19am

          Re: Re: Re: He's Right

          I have flown to and from Oslo on a number of occasions in the last 3 or 4 years and my comment that you do NOT need to remove your laptop - in fact they ask you specifically not to - is based on personal experience. Maybe it is different at other Norwegian airports - or has changed in the year since I last visited.

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 8:19am

    PST on data retention

    I can't post hyperlink from the site, but Google for:PST vil inkludere nettdebatter i datalagringsdirektivet

    Use Google Translate to get the rough translation.


    Norway has banned anonymous prepaid SIM cards and elected to implement the EU Data Retention Directive inspite of having the option to say no.

    Norway aalso has some crazy laws concerning free speech. So-called hate speech, violent or "degrading pornography" and a lot of categories of speech which would be protected under the First Amendment are criminal.

    No Scandinavian or European country for that matter is really good on free speech.

     

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    Sk8Punk, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 8:32am

    Amazingly tone deaf and egocentric

    This is absolutely amazing on so many levels. To conflate the act of one lone, deranged mind with organized, self-conscious, and highly principled Islamic "terrorists" demonstrates immense cognitive dissonance. Have any of you read anything Islamists write or are you too busy projecting your western values and beliefs over them to actually consider that they may really believe in their world view and reject yours? Start with the Al Qaeda reader and a few hours on memri.org to see how stupid and idiotic it is to compare Breivik with islamists.

    Second Norway is an insignificant European backwater. Thinking of it as important or significant only demonstrates your eurocentrism. Comparing it to the United States is ridiculous. For example, LA County is bigger- and a thousand times more diverse than white Norway. This isnt even an apples to oranges comparison- it's more like an apples to rocks comparison. Norway can be what it is because it is so homogenous, small, and utterly lacking in diversity.

    Finally, to all you arguing that the terrorists "won." Please refrain from your eurocentric understanding of Other people, specifically Islamists. It does not take much time to realize that they define "win" as a global caliphate, not sensors in airports and draconian anticivil liberties legislation. Do not speak for them. You should simply learn to listen better and think more.

     

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      Richard (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 9:11am

      Re: Amazingly tone deaf and egocentric

      Finally, to all you arguing that the terrorists "won." Please refrain from your eurocentric understanding of Other people, specifically Islamists. It does not take much time to realize that they define "win" as a global caliphate, not sensors in airports and draconian anticivil liberties legislation. Do not speak for them.

      Depends how you define "won", and who does the defining.

      From our perspective we have "lost" - therefore from our perspective they have "won". The fact that some of them may have a different perspective is irrelevant.

      Also it is an over simplification to define won/lost only in terms of their final objective. Won/lost may also refer to individual battles within a larger war. No one in anything vaguely resembling their right mind would believe that terrorism, on its own, could achieve a "global caliphate".

      What it could achieve, as earlier commenters have said, is to provoke us into security measures tha undermine our core values Since the major battle here is for hearts and minds this is a major gain for them - and because it has been achieved largely through threats rather than actions it has been done very cheaply.

      IN any case you have not addressed the major issue - which is that our reactions to terrorism have been disproportionate and have caused us a net loss. We should instead have listened to the advice given by the UK government - which proved affective against a much greater enemy than the rag bag of sad individuals that threaten us now. That enemy was one of the most powerful war machines with the most technologically advanced equipment the world had ever seen, capable of raining down death from hundreds of miles away without warning and with little or no possibility of defence.

      What was the advice?

      KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 4:16pm

      Re: Amazingly tone deaf and egocentric

      "This is absolutely amazing on so many levels."

      The U.S. looked deep into it's soul and responded to the threat they faced with what they found there, cowardice and fear.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 9:06am

    wow tim, your an idiot, over 3K Norwegians didnt die on 9/11, you can leave this country and move to norway

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 4:19pm

      Re:

      And hundreds of thousands of people who had nothing to do with 9/11 died because the US responded with cowardice and fear.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 6:18pm

      Re:

      You're the same idiot that thinks citizens with cameras are threats to policemen, aren't you?

      To quote Willy Wonka, "My dear old fish, go and boil your head."

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2012 @ 1:27pm

      Re:

      It comes down to the quality of the leadership.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 9:21am

    Have you consider that this really wasn't a terrorist attack, any more than the recent shooting in Aurora was a terrorist attack?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 9:31am

    I am moving to Norway.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 9:47am

    Asymmetric warfare

    I believe that Islamic terrorism is different from earlier leftist movement in that the former does not care about the population of the society on which they inflict terrorist acts.
    Islamic jihad's final nonnegotiable goal is a world under the writ of Islam. The Muslim Brotherhood has for decades infiltrated western nations in order to sabotage their societies from within.

    See the trial documents in the Holy Land Foundation case.
    Muslim terrorists simply do not operate rationally in the same sense as western or even nonwestern secular movements.
    However, the civil libertarian objection to the war on terrorism is spot on for another reason, namely that the terrorists have won if they can inflict economic hardship onto the non-muslim population.

     

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    The Original Anonymous Coward (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 9:48am

    Comparing apples and oranges

    The shooting in Norway was performed by a local person who did not like some of his government's policies.

    The two attacks on the world trade center were done by foreign organizations who did not and continue to not like the United States' policies.

    See the difference?

    I wonder if Norway would have reacted differently if a foreign organization had on two separate occasions killed over 3000 of their citizens in their largest city.

     

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      Richard (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 9:53am

      Re: Comparing apples and oranges

      I wonder if Norway would have reacted differently if a foreign organization had on two separate occasions killed over 3000 of their citizens in their largest city.

      1. That is an exaggeration of what happened.

      2. Norway has a much smaller population than the US so proportionately that is not much different.

      3. Young people were specifically targeted - which adds an extra edge .

       

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    MikeP (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 10:28am

    Not Apples to Apples

    Instead of comparing Norway's tragedy to 9/11, it should be compared to the Oklahoma's bombing. In Norway and in Oklahoma, a citizen of the country committed the terrorism. In 9/11, the United States was attacked by religious extremists who operated freely in a foreign country. When the attack occurred, Muslims around the world danced in the streets and cheered. I know of no group that danced and cheered in the Norway attack. No one promised future attacks after Norway or after Oklahoma.

     

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      Richard (profile), Jul 27th, 2012 @ 9:22am

      Re: Not Apples to Apples

      In 9/11, the United States was attacked by religious extremists who operated freely in a foreign country.

      and the US retaliated against a different foreign country!!!

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 11:52am

    Next step: every Norwegian should get a gun (rope, knife, etc) and commit a suicide. This way terrorist will be defeated - they just won't have anybody to kill!
    Norway:Terrorists 1:0

     

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    heyidiot (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 1:17pm

    Apples and oranges

    The fallacy in comparing this to 9/11 is that in Breivik's case they're talking about a home-grown terrorist.

    Timothy McVeigh might be a better comparison to draw...

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 4:31pm

      Re: Apples and oranges

      The main fallacy is that 9/11 could have been easily prevented by not allowing access to the cockpits of planes, but that was considered to be too much trouble and too expensive.
      Given how many hijackings there had been in previous decades, not having that policy was simple insanity, whereas there was almost nothing that could have stopped some crazy person doing something like what that one in Norway did.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 6:09pm

    Re: He's Right

    #11 Mason Wheeler said "Well, you fly on a plane, and they tell you that you have to turn off your laptop for takeoff and landing. Apparently they think it generates some magical "interference" that could cause the plane to crash--even though this idea has been thoroughly debunked as far back as the 1980s."

    Incorrect. The navigation system uses several very sensitive antenna at several frequencies. Some of these are below the passenger compartment and are sensitive to the frequencies laptops emit, particularly if you have WiFi enabled. I've seen the reports.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 11:40pm

    I wonder how they would react if the terrorist were from a different country.

    Look at the TSA they make peoples lives a living hell.. They have had agents sneak so much shit past them it just proves how pointless they are..

    The terrorist won sadly :( not only has thousands of our people died in the attacks and war but they've got us to kill thousands of innocent people in their countries. How many deaths are enough to end this madness? 500,000? 1,000,000? 25,000,000? One death is too much for me. We dropped to the terrorist level and waged a unjustified war that's driving us to the point of going bankrupt.

    Norway has it right if they would act the same to a terrorist from the outside as well.

    All a war does is give them more reason to commit future attacks. They want us to waste our resources on war till we're broke.

     

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    Tony, Jul 27th, 2012 @ 9:41am

    Maybe it'd be feasible for the US to do this if we weren't acting like such assholes to everyone... :(

     

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    oletorjus (profile), Jul 27th, 2012 @ 2:50pm

    @Richard - that sounds just absurd. It might have been that way, god knows why, but today, and any other time I have flown within Norway or outside of Norway, the routine is that you need to remove your laptop from handluggage and place it in its own cart while moving through security. That is how things go down, what you have experienced sounds just not in touch with anything I know, and must have been misunderstandings and/or some extraordinary events surrounding.

     

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