Georg Apenes, former Data Inspectorate director and ex Conservative (H) MP, claims politicians are toothless. He alleges Norway’s close affiliation with the US has long posed a democratic problem.
Brothers in arms
Today’s explanation to Parliament regarding events surrounding the US surveillance affair by Minister of Justice Knut Storberget may reveal little.
“SV (Socialist Left) is part of the government, which explains everything. [The Party] has also affiliated itself with the US through its policy on Afghanistan. The Liberal Party (V) has very little resources. They do their best, but it is difficult for them to send in the cavalry because of the current Parliamentary makeup,” Mr Apenes tells Klassekampen.
The other two Coalition members, Minister Storberget’s own Labour Party (Ap) and the Centre Party (Sp), are also US-friendly.
“The US is one of our closest allies. We want to cooperate closely [with it] regarding NATO and Afghanistan,” Sven Roald Hansen, Labour’s Foreign Policy spokesperson tells The Foreigner.
“We consider we have a very good relationship with the US, partly because of the large Norwegian immigration of the 1800s, as well as due to our cooperation via NATO and the UN,” says a Party press spokesperson.
The Progress Party (FrP) is also extremely loyal, according to Klassekampen
Mr Apenes believes the non-Socialist Opposition’s excessively close ties with America, including the Conservative Party, means the whole surveillance matter risks being toned down.
“I was Director of the Data Inspectorate for 21 years, and not one day passed without infringement of Norwegians’ privacy. The major governmental Parties know that they will be in Opposition one day, and vice versa. Therefore, I believe everyone is being extremely cautious so as not to upset the course of foreign policy,” he says.
Neither SV’s Hallgeir Langeland, a member of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs, nor KrF’s (Christian Democrats) Party Leader Dagfinn Høybråten, believe Minister Storberget will have an easy ride.
The Minister has previously claimed he was unaware of the US SDU’s (Surveillance Detection Unit) undercover activities, but the embassy alleges it had alerted the Oslo police about it.
“[The SDU] is exactly what its title states: a program designed to detect surveillance against U.S. posts overseas,” it wrote in a press release.
Moreover, the Police Security Service (PST), who has submitted its preliminary findings to the Minister, is also involved in the scandal, despite earlier denials.
“There is no reason to believe [Minister] Storberget will be able to answer what are reasonable questions. However, I do expect the Minister of Justice to show he is open, and that he has specific measures to get to the bottom of the matter,” Dagfinn Høybråten tells Klassekampen.
“I assume the issue will be passed to the [Standing] Committee, and will eventually be brought up as a Parliamentary hearing. The matter is not concluded yet,” says Hallgeir Langeland MP.