|Norway security service chief under fire|
| [01.09.2011, 10:49am, Thu. GMT]|
|The head of Norway's security service (PST) came under renewed fire Thursday over how the agency responded to the July attacks that claimed 77 lives. PST head Janne Kristiansen has shown she was not capable of leading the agency, the head of parliament's justice committee Per Sandberg, of the opposition Progress Party, charged in comments to the Dagsavisen newspaper.Sandberg cited some of Kristiansen's remarks made three days after the attacks.|
Kristiansen then said that Anders Behring Breivik, who had admitted to setting off a car bomb in central Oslo and a shooting at a Labour Party youth camp, would not have been detected even by the Stasi, the feared security police in the former East Germany.
She later apologized for the remarks but has apparently not restored her standing with other politicians.
Bard Vegar Sollhjell, parliamentary leader of the Socialist Left Party that is junior partner in the ruling coalition, said he was 'surprised' over how Kristiansen and the PST had acted.
'The PST's tone does not suggest they are willing to learn or reflect on how to make improvements,' Solhjell told the daily Bergens Tidende daily.
Meanwhile, the Aftenposten daily reported that police could likely have deployed a helicopter at a much earlier stage, possibly reducing the number of deaths at Utoya island where 69 people died.
Helicopter personnel - who were on holiday during July - offered to fly the helicopter minutes after learning of the car bomb but were told to wait, the daily said.
The daily estimated that the helicopter could have been airborne an hour after the bomb. A retired crew member, Frank Jensen, said the helicopter could also have conducted important surveillance at Utoya.
Oslo police declined further comment, noting that Johan Fredriksen, Oslo police chief of staff, had told Aftenposten that the deployment of the helicopter was one issue to be studied in an internal probe.
The Norwegian Police Security Service is the police security agency of Norway, somewhat comparable to the British MI5. The agency was previously known as POT, the name change was dictated by the Parliament of Norway on 2 June 2001.
The service was established in 1936 or 1937. It is responsible for monitoring and securing the interior security in Norway. Known operational departments include counterintelligence unit, counterterrorism unit, counter proliferation and organized crime unit, counter extremism unit, investigation unit, surveillance unit, technology unit, security analysis unit and foreign citizens unit. In addition, PST is in charge of all VIP protection domestically and abroad except for the royal family, which has its own independent escort service.
PST is unlike all ordinary police services not a part of the National Police Directorate but like econick crime and several other special police units placed directly under the Ministry of Justice and the Police. Also, the agency is under the direct scrutiny of the Norwegian Parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Committee, after it conducted unlawful political surveillance on national citizens during the Cold War.
The organization consists of central unit that is located in Nydalen, Oslo, as well as individual police officers in all the police regions.