The State Department, monitoring the phone calls from the consulate’s operations center, knew virtually from the first minutes, as Ubben, Stevens, and Smith were hiding, that the attack on the consulate was no protest gone astray. And when a major CIA outpost nearby came under attack hours later, there was little doubt about that being an operation by well-trained terrorists. But the administration has sought to reveal as little as possible about the CIA presence and operations in Benghazi, not least because when Obama talks about bringing the killers to justice, those are the people who may be asked to do it…

The events at the consulate that night have been documented in considerable detail by State Department background briefers. There had been massive anti-American protests in Egypt tied to a provocative film reviling the Prophet Muhammad. Men had scaled the walls of the Cairo embassy unopposed, ripped down Old Glory, and raised the black flag of jihad. But as of 8:30 p.m. in Benghazi, when Ambassador Stevens escorted a Turkish diplomat to the gates of the bucolic six-acre consulate compound, everything was calm. Then at around 9:40, according to the State Department’s records, the sound of gunfire erupted, and an American diplomatic security agent looking at closed-circuit TV screens in the operations center saw armed men swarming through the compound. He hit the alarm and started shouting, “Attack! Attack!” over the loudspeaker…

At about 4 a.m., as Febrayir and his men prepared to evacuate the Americans from the CIA compound, the street was dead quiet. And then a shot rang out. Then within seconds there was a whooshing sound of rocket-propelled grenades being fired, raining down into the annex compound from attackers in positions concealed on rooftops and behind a stand of trees. In two minutes 15 RPGs hit. Then a pause. Then came the muffled sound of a mortar going off, and a devastating detonation as it hit the roof of one of the annex buildings. “It was a good shot,” says Febrayir. “Whoever fired it knew what they were doing.” It was dark. And they were too accurate. “They must have known the coordinates,” said Febrayir. He and his forces retreated down the road. Inside the annex, the high explosive rounds lobbed on top of the buildings killed two members of the quick-reaction team, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, who had taken up positions defending the compound. Special agent Ubben, who was barely able to move because of the smoke inhalation, also was hit by the blast but survived.