May 27, 2004

The Indictment of Abu Hamza ("Captain Hook")
— Ace

Apparently we flipped two of his disciples -- two of the Portland-area Al Qaeda.

Alphabet City has some first-class reportage, digging through the indictment, linking together all the conspirators.

Ramzi Yousef, inevitably, makes a cameo. He's turning out to be as to Al Qaeda what Allen Dulles is to JFK conspiracy theories, or what the Knights Templar are to medieval/church conspiracies -- he's just always popping up somewhere along the way.

First I thought Alphabet City was cutting and pasting a professional dispatch, but no, it appears he's written this up himself.

This post is great for two reasons. For one, it's just a good backgrounder. It digests the indictment and reports all the most important facts, and then it hyperlinks the stuffings out of all the major players.

But it also demonstrates that there's no particular reason that a blogger, given sufficient discipline and craft, can't produce dispatches on par with anything from AP.

It's not that Alphabet City's backgrounder is so much better than what you'd read on AP (although it's better than what you might read most of the time).

It's rather that there's no discernable difference between a professional backgrounder and Alphabet City's.

And this kind of piece is an important part of the news. It's not talk-to-a-source original reportage (so far as I can tell; if I'm wrong, I trust I'll be corrected). But a lot of articles in the newspapers are digests of indictments and court opinions and the like. It's a big part of the function of reporters, if not their main function.

There are some genuine deep thinkers in the blogosphere. Den Beste, for one; the Volokhs; and even Mickey Kaus, when the mood strikes him, and when he can restrain himself from using exclamation points every second sentence.

So, as far as opinion and analysis, the blogosphere has produced some important players.

But it hasn't produced actual reporters, fact-finders, digesters, and backgrounders, at least not consistently. (And not to my knowledge; I'm not an expert on the blogosphere. I'm not really an expert on anything, to tell the truth.)

As the blogosphere begins producing pieces like this more consistently-- what, precisely, is left for the mainstream media?

Actual talk-to-a-source reportage will probably remain their turf alone; there's a steep entry barrier to that function. You need a lot of time and a lot of connections and a lot of time to work your connections.

Still: two out of three ain't bad. Once the blogosphere can compete in terms of both opinion/analysis essays and overview/context pieces, the reporters will be left with nothing much to do but report on actual breaking news...

...which is sort of the job they're actually supposed to be doing, anyway.

Note to self: Stop churning out slapdash buffoonery. There's a better way.

Note to self: Lean on "Deep Stoat" to tip me as to the upcoming jobs numbers.

Posted by: Ace at 10:10 PM | Comments (18)
Post contains 495 words, total size 3 kb.

1 Thanks for the kind words, Ace.

I put the piece together because I couldn't find anything that did the same. I also thought the flip angle was a great substory illustrating the success of our interrogation of Islamists in light of the Abu Ghraib overkill.

Keep dunking those waterboards fellas.

Posted by: Robert Stevens at May 27, 2004 11:11 PM (AaBEz)

2 Not so fast, my friend. There is an important place for slap-dash buffoonery.

There remain many people and events that cry out for ridicule and humiliation. Satirist's have often been an extremely important force for advancing the social discourse. Inflated egos demand the pen prick of the sharpened voice.

When you can write as you did about the Wonkette and Whoreingtonienne episode, your voice is sorely needed. At a time when the level of acromony between the political sides is at a historic high, one who can provoke laughter at the richly deserving is a valuable prize indeed.

Keep it up. You are needed.

Posted by: bigdiogi at May 27, 2004 11:30 PM (Bv07a)

3 Another choice shot of Ayatollah Hook:

Is he blind too? As near as I can tell, he doesn't have pupils.

On the subject of photos, the Lara Flynn Boyle pic is wearing very well. I never seem to tire of it.

Posted by: Nicholas Kronos at May 28, 2004 06:28 AM (TExDh)

4 Speak for yourself Nick. It's getting old.

Anybody hear from Allah lately? I can't believe he didn't have a photoshop using pics from Gore's blowout the other day.

Posted by: lauraw at May 28, 2004 07:03 AM (AYE1g)

5 Whatever happened to Him (may his glorious name be praised) must've been pretty serious. His goodbye note was rather terse. Maybe he got in a rumble with Zeus and Vishnu.

Posted by: Smack Remembers Personal Info at May 28, 2004 08:06 AM (lpGKc)

6 Allah's around, it seems, just not posting. He's gotten a handful of hat tips at LGF his week.

I'm happy Ace is here to take up the slack.

Posted by: keggin at May 28, 2004 09:05 AM (AAxSd)

7 Speaking of deep thinking bloggers, Wretchard from the Belmont Club has been dissecting the moves made by our military with incredibly insightful detail, in ways that I NEVER read in the regular media.

I make the argument that some of the blog deep thinkers are years ahead of the self appointed big media pundits...

Posted by: Tman at May 28, 2004 09:43 AM (Fho+X)

8 Lauraw,

Yeah, I think I've had it up for way too long. All of the guys really seem to want me to keep it, but I'm looking to switch.

Posted by: ace at May 28, 2004 09:55 AM (iog7U)

9 Wretchard rocks.

Posted by: Nicholas Kronos at May 28, 2004 10:26 AM (BPhem)

10 Perhaps you could replace her with Natasha Henstridge or something. To be more fair to the female readers (or Andrew Sullivan), maybe you should alternate the fine looking ladies with some fine looking men.

DISCLAIMER: this suggestion is made purely out of a natural desire to gratify the female readers (and Andrew Sullivan) and should in no way be construed as indicitive of Smack's own sexual orientation or proclivities. Thank you.

Posted by: Smack Remembers Personal Info at May 28, 2004 11:05 AM (lpGKc)

11 Let's have the crazy Indian guy with the gun to his head.

Posted by: rdbrewer at May 28, 2004 11:51 AM (2LE6C)

12 Or the Gore-bot with his head obviously and badly photoshopped onto the body of a gyrating male stripper.

Orange sockhatted Deaniacs in the foreground waving dollar bills.

Posted by: lauraw at May 28, 2004 11:58 AM (AYE1g)

13 The Lara Flynn Boyle picture makes it a little tricky to read the site while at work. Just try to keep that in mind when selecting your next picture. Thanks.

Posted by: Aaron at May 28, 2004 12:24 PM (Zg6J9)


Sorry about that. I made a judgment call on it; I figured it was racy, but not obscene. I apologize if the picture was a bit over the line for some.

I haven't posted cheesecake pics here before, and I don't intend to make a habit of it. It was just that I found only a three or four pics of LFB, and this pic, while a little racy, was the only one that really showed her looking good.

Everyone should speak up about stuff like this. The only people who commented immediately about the pic were those saying, "KEEP THAT PICTURE FOREVER."

Posted by: ace at May 28, 2004 10:14 PM (iog7U)

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