Anders Behring Breivik, Norway's confessed mass killer, appears to be making good on his plan to turn his trial into a "circus" to showcase his extremist, anti-Muslim views. Breivik admits to killing 77 people last July, but says he did it to defend his country against multiculturalism, likening the young Labour Party members he gunned down to the Hitler Youth. Norway's prosecution stands in stark contrast to the U.S. policy of barring high-profile terrorism suspects from civilian courtrooms altogether. Is the Breivik case an example of how not to handle high-profile terror cases? Or does Breivik's ranting make a case for trying terrorists in civilian court in order to discredit their views?
Norway is showing the U.S. how it's done: The Breivik trial could serve as a model for the U.S. as it prosecutes al Qaeda suspects, says James Joyner at Outside the Beltway. "A sober, fair trial in an American court for a Muslim accused of heinous crimes would send a powerful message that the United States really believes in the 'rule of law' that it preaches abroad and is in fact not engaged in a war against Islam." Hardcore Islamists won't be swayed, but "those on the margins" just might.
"Anders Breivik and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed"
It's wrong to give a terror suspect a microphone: "The court is not to be used as a soapbox from which the defendant spouts political views," says Paul Mendelle at Britain's Guardian. Breivik is entitled to a defense in court, but that doesn't mean he has some inalienable right to use the witness stand to express his "twisted" ideology. "What is being proffered by Breivik does not appear in any legal sense to amount to self-defense."
"Why Anders Breivik's trial seems strange to the eyes of an English lawyer"
Breivik's ranting only discredits his cause: In his trial this week, Breivik called his attack "the most spectacular sophisticated political act in Europe since the Second World War," says Max Fisher at The Atlantic. "It's not hard to imagine Khalid Sheikh Mohammed saying something similar about Sept. 11." Yet Breivik's boasting isn't "sparking a far-right-extremist renaissance." If anything, "the popular backlash" is putting the anti-immigrant far-right on the defensive, which seems to be an argument for the Norwegian model, and against the U.S.'s Guantanamo alternative.
"What America can learn from Norway's Anders Breivik trial"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How a degree from Duke University dashed my dreams of buying a home
- This is why you can't trust the NSA. Ever.
- Half the world's population lives in these 6 countries
- Innocent before proven guilty? The bizarre bipartisan rush to clear Rick Perry
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- The single best way to help your kid succeed at school
- Welcome to the age of ambivalent feminism
- What Keeping Up with the Kardashians can teach America about interracial marriage
- ISIS and the echoes of the West's religious terror
Subscribe to the Week