Is this a case of too much public knowledge jeopardizing the safety of American citizens? U.S. District Judge Monti Belot thought so. He granted the prosecution's request for a protective order in the case against avionics technician and would-be domestic terrorist Terry Loewen.
Loewen, who was arrested December 13th following a successful FBI sting, has plead not guilty to the 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.
The 58-year-old man came to the attention of the nation when last year, he attempted to drive a van full of explosives onto the Wichita airport tarmac. Though the event was startling to learn of, authorities have since emphasized that there was no one at the airport or surrounding area was actually in danger.
What is felt to be dangerous now is what could be revealed over the course of Loewen's trial. For instance, how the US government came to identify Loewen as a threat and the exact methods used to apprehend him. It is feared that such information could compromise ongoing and future FBI investigations.
Loewen's defense attorneys have promised the court that they would not reveal any information to the public or during the trial that could be an issue for the FBI. This includes the identities of FBI agents who were involved in the case. At the same time, they have expressed concern at the continued interference of the federal government, accusing officials of trying to "micromanage" the defense.
According to Belot's ruling, any materials provided by the government in the case cannot be shared with parties not directly involved in the trial. This is true for both the defense and prosecution. Most importantly, neither the prosecution nor defense is allowed to discuss evidence in the case with members of the media.
What this means is that the public is to be kept in the dark about certain, inarguably very important, details of the case.
What do YOU think: Is this excessive or is this a necessary step to protect the integrity of future federal investigations?
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