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Questionable Connections for Speaker at High-Profile Inaugural Event?

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Prayer Problems?

A Muslim scholar invited to speak at President-elect Obama's inaugural prayer service Wednesday is the leader of an Islamic group that federal prosecutors say has ties to terrorism.

Ingrid Mattson is president of the Islamic Society of North America. In 2007, her group was listed as one of nearly 300 co-conspirators in a criminal case against another Islamic group — the Holy Land Foundation — which is accused of funneling more than $12 million to Hamas.

Neither Mattson nor her organization have been charged, but prosecutors say they have "a wide array of testimonial and documentary evidence" that links the group to Hamas and other radical organizations.

Mattson has been the guest of honor at State Department dinners and has met with Bush administration senior Pentagon officials, but that was prior to the group being named as a co-conspirator in the case.

Linda Douglass, an Oama spokeswoman, would not discuss the case, but says Mattson has "a stellar reputation in the faith community."

Staying in Touch

A final decision has not yet been made on whether Obama will keep his BlackBerry once he takes office. Previous presidents have not used e-mail because it can be subpoenaed by congress and the courts.

But the Politico newspaper reports the president-elect's legal counsel told staffers Friday that for privacy reasons they will have to surrender the use of instant messaging software like AOL Messenger and Google chat. And staffers are not happy about it.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one senior Obama staffer said, "They just told us flat out we couldn't IM in the White House." And another said, "It sucks. It's really going to slow us down."

Sign of the Times

Jim Graham, a Washington, D.C. councilman, says police officers are unable to enforce loitering laws during the inauguration. So to combat that particular problem, a local TV station reports police have placed signs in one neighborhood reading "Warning, Prostitution-Free Zone."

Graham says, "It's aimed at a very specific issue. If you don't move along, we'll put you in the car."

Those who disobey could be fined $300 and even jailed. But a woman who advertises her services online, says prostitutes who work the streets will just take business elsewhere.

Bare Necessities

If you are coming to Washington for the inauguration and you didn't make advance accommodation plans, there still may be a place for you to stay. But there's one catch: You will have to get naked.

Patrick Sokoloski, the manager at the Pine Tree Nudist Club near Annapolis, Maryland says inaugural visitors are welcome. Those not aware of nudist etiquette will be taken on a tour where they'll be briefed on the do's and don'ts. They do not have to be naked for the tour, but it ends at an indoor pool where visitors must strip down.

Sokoloski says, "This is the first time that we're pitching to the inaugural crowd. But we're really just trying to promote nudism, because Americans are still on that puritan kick and many of them don't know how to handle it yet."

— FOX News Channel's Zachary Kenworthy contributed to this report.

Bret Baier currently serves as anchor of FOX News Channel's (FNC) Special Report with Bret Baier (weeknights 6-7PM/ET), the top-rated cable news program in its timeslot. Based in Washington, DC, he joined the network in 1998 as the first reporter in the Atlanta bureau.