Sunday, July 25, 2010

Review-Journal Editor Flips!

On Friday, Review-Journal editor Tom Mitchell had a brief blog post in which he took note of the fact that a Vegas-based company is upset to have been included in a controversial database that the Washington Post published online this week. The Post did a three-part series about the huge intelligence and homeland security apparatus in DC and created a searchable way to learn what companies are doing what for the feds.

The end of that blog post included this snark:

The Post said it obtained its information from publicly available sources. I guess terrorists prefer someone aggregate the data for them.

This struck me as strange because Mitchell spends most of his Sunday columns arguing for the values of open government and a free media. He's a zealot on those points, in fact, and he earns my loyal readership for that. Now he's buying the line that the Post is helping Al Qaeda?

So here's the weirder thing: By today, Mitchell had evidently reverted to form. His Sunday column is headlined "A 'right to know' only if we can show a 'need'?" and it argued, as he usually does, that more information is almost always better. He used two examples, one a Jeff German report that showed the security cameras at the Vegas courthouse were blocked by shrubs and stuff, and that very Washington Post project that has been under such fire all over the conservative blogosphere as somehow aiding and abetting the terrorists. You know, the very smark Mitchell concluded his blog post with just two days ago.

Mitchell cited in the column the same notice to the public posted on the website of the Vegas company in the Post database, DownRange Global Solutions, which called the Post "a treasonous organization [that] should be viewed as a danger to the national security of this country."

This time, though, Mitchell offers this conclusion:

On the other hand, the taxpayers now have some idea that they are funding a massive bureaucracy hidden behind a veil of secrecy with no possible way to determine whether it is effective, whether it is capable of preventing anything or what it costs.

So on Friday morning, the guy thought the Post was helpful to terrorists, but by Friday afternoon when he would have filed his Sunday column, Mitchell realized that the Post had helped expose a redundant and expensive system.

Umm, OK.

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P.S. You know how I love to mock the R-J's idiotic website and complain that they almost never link to anything off their site the way most publications do? Well, I just realized something: They also don't even link from one story to another on their own site. None of the links above provide links to the other work of the paper that would help the reader know more about what they're writing about. Another job for the crack team run by Al Gibes after he figures out how to provide video that can be embedded. Which is to say, never.