Inside the Benghazi consulate where Americans died

Tracking down militants who attacked U.S. Consulate
Inside U.S. consulate in Benghazi
CBS News

(CBS News) BENGHAZI, Libya - The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi now sits empty and abandoned.

If the men who attacked these buildings on Sept. 11 used heavy weapons, there are few signs of it. But over every window there is evidence of the billowing smoke that killed two Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Inside the building, Post-it notes cling to the blackened walls, left behind by FBI investigators who finally made it to the crime scene for a single day last week.

Video from the attack shows blazing fires come from the consulate as looters swarm the building.

Now a blanket of soot covers the ruins, but investigators will have been looking for evidence as to who set the fire.

Heavy steel security doors separate the sleeping quarters from the rest of the consulate building. The doors were double locked from the inside, likely by the people who took refuge from the attack that night, among them Ambassador Stevens.

The space, which includes the Ambassador's own bedroom, was setup to be a secure retreat from an attack. Bars covered the windows around the room.

On September 11th, inside of being a safe place, the secure space became a trap.

According to the government sources, Ambassador Stevens' personal security guard may have pried the barred windows away and climbed out of the compound.

The question remains, why Stevens, left behind in the dark and smoke, did not follow then.

His body was pulled from that same window by a crowd hours later.

The Sept. 11 attack was not the first on the embassy.

On Sept. 8, Jamal Busha'la, a commander of one of Benghazi's most powerful militias, met with three Americans, one from the U.S. Embassy, to warn them about deteriorating security.

"Benghazi is a disaster now," said Busha'la. "Benghazi is not safe."

  • Elizabeth Palmer
    Elizabeth Palmer

    Elizabeth Palmer has been a CBS News correspondent since August 2000. She has been based in London since late 2003, after having been based in Moscow (2000-03). Palmer reports primarily for the "CBS Evening News."