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House Demos Refuse to Subpoena Mortgage Records from Countrywide Financial which may implicate additional government officials in the lender's VIP program.  Committees in both Houses are currently reviewing evidence that Countrywide gave special loan packages to top ranking Democrat Senators Chris Dodd and Kent Conrad.  In an update to his story last Tuesday, Associated Press writer Larry Margasak reports that Congressman Darryl Issa, the ranking Republican on the House committee investigating whether the sweetheart deals given to Dodd and Conrad violated Congressional rules, has repeatedly asked the Chairman to order that the records be subpoenaed.  Responding to the request, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Edolphus Todd D-N-Y, has refused, saying he has other work to do on the financial crisis.  The Senate Ethics Committee, which is also investigating the matter, does not have jurisdiction beyond the Senate.  House Republicans seeking to have the records opened, say that they are willing to risk the possible exposure of some of their GOP colleagues who may have also received preferential treatment by Countrywide.   

Justice Relaxes Security on Shoe Bomber:  Last month the Justice Department announced its decision not to renew the Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) governing the detention of Richard Reid aka the "Shoe Bomber".  Reid was convicted on charges of terrorism and is serving a life sentence for a 2001 attempt to blow up American Airlines flight 63 from Paris to Miami, with what prosecutors later determined was enough plastic explosive in his shoe to blow a hole in the plane's fuselage and kill all of the 197 passengers and crew on board.  In a federal lawsuit Reid claims that the SAMs, which are security directives restricting the communications, correspondence and contacts of particularly dangerous inmates, violate his First Amendment rights.  In an OpEd piece in today's Wall Street Journal, attorney Debra Burlingame makes the case that Reid remains a very dangerous character who should continue to be confined under maximum security.  She characterizes Justice's decision in this case as an administration effort to "appease political constituencies both here and abroad...on the false premise that giving more civil liberties to religious fanatics bent on destroying Western Civilization will make a difference in the Muslim world." 

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