Judge shields evidence in Kansas bomb plot case – Read more at http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/judge-shields-evidence-kansas-bomb-plot-case-22413085
Kansas bomb plot, Government evidence against a man accused of plotting a suicide bomb attack at a Kansas airport will be shielded from the public, a federal judge ruled Friday.
U.S. District Judge Monti Belot granted the prosecution’s request for a protective order in the case of Terry Loewen, a 58-year-old avionics technician charged with plotting to attack Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport on Dec. 13. The ruling sets out procedures for the handling of sensitive evidence exchanged before trial, resolving the government’s fears that publicly disclosing evidence would expose its investigative methods and ultimately compromise their ability to stop future plots.
Loewen was arrested Dec. 13, after a monthslong undercover sting, when he allegedly tried to drive a van filled with inert explosives onto the airport tarmac, a plot prosecutors say was timed to cause “maximum carnage” at the height of the holiday travel season. Loewen has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempting to use an explosive device to damage property and attempting to give material support to al-Qaida.
Belot’s order forbids making available any materials provided by the government in the case to those who aren’t involved, and it allows Loewen to have access to the material only in the presence of his attorney, who must retain possession of the evidence.
It also specifically prohibits prosecutors or defense attorneys from disseminating evidence to the media, and forbids disclosing the real or fake identities of the undercover agents who befriended Loewen in the months leading to his arrest.
All materials provided to Loewen’s attorneys will remain the property of the government, Belot ruled. Loewen’s attorneys must return them and all copies once the case ends and erase from computers and servers any that exist in electronic form. Attorney notes also must be destroyed once the case is resolved.
Kansas bomb plot: Defense attorneys had previously told the court they would not disclose any information provided by the government, and they tried to assure Belot they would not disclose the FBI agents’ identities and that such “professional obligations” didn’t require a protective order. They criticized the government for trying to “micromanage” the defense with what they called burdensome and intrusive restrictions.
Kansas congressman Mike Pompeo is planning to discuss the case of an alleged suicide bomb plot at Wichita’s main airport when he visits the city.
The Republican lawmaker is scheduled to speak Friday at the Wichita Pachyderm Club’s monthly luncheon. Pompeo’s office says he plans to talk about the case of an avionics technician accused of planning a suicide bombing at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport.
The 58-year-old man was arrested Dec. 13 after a months-long government sting when he allegedly tried to drive a van carrying inert explosives onto the airport tarmac.
Pompeo also plans to speak Friday afternoon at McConnell Air Force Base during an event marking the 20th anniversary of the 22nd Aerial Refueling Wing.
Kansas legislators are considering a bill to expand the definition of “furtherance of terrorism” and allow victims to seek civil penalties from those convicted of acts of terrorism.
House Bill 2463 is partially modeled after an Arkansas law passed there after an attack on a military recruiting office and proponents told a committee the Kansas version was inspired in part by a foiled bomb plot at the Wichita airport last month.
“In light of recent events in Wichita, Kansas, I believe we need to stand firm against terrorism in Kansas,” Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter said in written testimony. “We are not immune from these predators and this bill would give law enforcement the ability to investigate such acts.”
The suspect in the Wichita case, Terry Loewen, was a worker at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport, who attempted to drive onto the tarmac last month with what he believed was a van full of explosives.
Law enforcement officers said they were monitoring Loewen, who had been in contact with federal agents he believed to be co-conspirators and the public was never in any real danger. Loewen’s prosecution is beginning to wind through the legal process.
HB 2463 would create several new actions under which law enforcement could arrest and seek to prosecute individuals for “furtherance of terrorism or illegal use of weapons of mass destruction.”
The bill would make it against the law to “provide material support” for those who commit acts of terrorism, “hinder the prosecution” of such crimes or “conceal or aid in the escape” of anyone who commits such a crime.
HB 2463 would also allow victims of terrorism to take perpetrators to civil court and pursue up to three times the actual damages sustained or $10,000 — whichever is greater. They may also pursue attorneys fees, or ask the Kansas Attorney General to litigate on their behalf.
The House Corrections and Juvenile Justice heard testimony on the bill Monday. Rep. Steve Becker, R-Buhler, a former judge, said the state already allows civil actions by victims of terrorism, though the triple damages and the clause allowing attorney general action would be new.
Rep. Kevin Jones, R-Wellsville, led the proponents of the bill and was joined by Easter, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, Linwood resident Kirk Sours and others.
Rep. John Rubin, R-Shawnee, the committee chairman, asked Rep. Peggy Mast, R-Emporia, to more fully identify the source of written testimony in favor of the bill that was signed by “Christopher Holton, Security Policy Center.”
Mast said Holton was affiliated with the Center for Security Policy, a Washington D.C. think tank.
“I know it’s headed up by Frank Gaffney, who’s pretty well-known,” Mast said.
Gaffney’s organization has pushed laws aimed at halting Islamic, or sharia law, in states across the country, including Kansas.
Rubin said after the hearing that Mast introduced the bill, and that it would require prosecutors to prove intent to aid terrorists in the “material support” clause so those who unknowingly give money to groups that support terrorism wouldn’t fall under it.
All of the testimony Monday focused on acts of terrorism incited by Islamic extremism, but Jones said the bill isn’t intended to target any one group and terrorism can come in many forms, including Christian.
Jones said he didn’t believe the bill would allow anyone to seek civil penalties from Scott Roeder, who was convicted of killing Wichita abortion provider George Tiller.
“My understanding is no, that would not be possible,” Jones said.
Jones said he believed the bill would only apply to acts in which “there was a bigger plot, or it was on a bigger scale.”
Jones testified that he would like to name the bill after legislative aide Steve Rexer, who brought the Arkansas law to his attention. The Arkansas law, he said, was named for a U.S. Marine recruiter who was shot dead in Little Rock “in the name of terror” by Abdulhakim Mohamed.
Rubin said under the state’s existing definition of terrorism, the bill would likely not apply to the Roeder case but would apply to Mohamed’s.
“That was clearly meant to be an attack against an instrumentality of the U.S. government,” Rubin said. “A recruiting office, Kansas bomb plot.”