On Tuesday, Oct. 3, Mark Fefer will becomeSeattle Weekly's new editor in chief. This represents a second homecoming for Fefer. Raised on the Eastside, a mile from where Microsoft's campus is now, Fefer graduated from Harvard in 1987 with a degree in English and promptly moved to New York, where he started as a fact checker at the satirical magazine Spy. He spent almost five years as a staff reporter for Fortune magazine before returning to Seattle for the first time and signing on as a staff writer for the Weekly. He served in this capacity from 1995 to 2001, and also was the paper's jazz critic. He then served as the Weekly's arts and culture editor from 2002 to 2004 before returning to New York City, where he worked most recently as an editor for Bloomberg News. MIKE SEELY
Outside New York City, Seattle has a singular place in the calamitous history of Sept. 11, 2001. It was here that people helped design and build the World Trade Center, here that people were aware of intelligence that came too late, and here that people assembled the airplanes that destroyed the twin towers. "It makes you feel real sorry," said Nick Soldano a few days after the terrorist attacks. In the 1960s and 1970s, Soldano was manager of Pacific Car & Foundry (now Paccar) steel operations in a block-long warehouse on South Holden Street in Seattle. Paccar supplied almost one-third—55,150 tons—of the prefab steel for WTC. The three-story framing ended up as the twisted steel trellises we all saw in the death glow of ground zero. "That's what we built, the last thing standing," said Soldano.
Additionally, the WTC's chief designer was Seattle-born Minoru Yamasaki, a UW graduate and noted designer of Seattle's IBM Building, the Century Plaza Hotel in L.A., and the Dhahran Air Terminal in Saudi Arabia. The WTC's lead engineering firm, as well, was Skilling Helle Christiansen Robertson of Seattle (now Magnusson Klemencic). Yamasaki and Skilling created the 110-story towers to absorb the impact of a large airplane; they did not envision, of course, the two Everett-assembled 767s that hit the WTC three decades later. What most people saw as the swift collapse of a colossus was conversely a feat of strength to the engineers. "It's not that they collapsed," said John Hooper of Skilling, "but how long they stayed up after being hit. . . . Ninety-nine percent of buildings would have been leveled on impact," he noted. But the WTC towers, which fell separately, were upright from an hour to almost 90 minutes, "allowing thousands to evacuate."
Then there's the intelligence provided by Ahmed Ressam that went nowhere. The would-be terrorist bomber, caught two years earlier in Port Angeles en route to bomb LAX, provided extensive information to the FBI and prosecutors, including knowledge of Zacarias Moussaoui, the "19th hijacker" arrested before the WTC attacks who's now doing life in prison. According to the 9/11 Commission's report, if the FBI had run a photo of Moussaoui—who was in custody at the time—past Ressam at his SeaTac detention cell, he would have ID'd Moussaoui (as he did post–Sept. 11). Aided by some similar British intelligence, 9/11 might have been just another day in history: "Either the British information or the Ressam identification would have broken the [intelligence] logjam," the commission concluded. RICK ANDERSON