American Foreign Service documents show various monitoring groups at its embassies around the world could have been armed.
The U.S. has already embarked upon the process, according to documents in NRK’s possession.
“It’s have had the opportunity. They could have been carrying concealed weapons in high threat level situations or exceptional circumstances, providing the embassy and the host nation granted them permission,” Vegard Valter Hansen, senior adviser at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), tells NRK.
One group that could have been armed was the U.S. Embassy in Oslo’s Surveillance Detection Unit (SDU), set up following 9/11 to spy on Norwegians.
SDU employees, which included former Norwegian security personnel, recorded sensitive and comprehensive details which was then disseminated by embassy staff, before being registered in the the worldwide anti-terror SIMAS database.
The inquiry into who knew what is still open, partly because the U.S. Department of State has not revoked security employees’ oath of silence. Minister of Justice Knut Storberget has denied knowing the SDU existed.
“It has become known to me that former police personnel have had security assignments at the embassy,” he said during this week’s Parliamentary question session about the affair, adding this happened before he assumed his current post.
Timothy Moore, spokesman for the American Embassy in Oslo says he is unaware any SDU members carried weapons.
“They only have to keep an eye on things and observe, so why should they be armed? SDU members are just regular U.S. embassy employees [and] are paid the same way. Some of them work full-time, others part-time” he said.
Nevertheless, Vegard Valter Hansen believes it possible the group was issued with weapons in special circumstances.
“This may have included President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize visit in 2010.”