According to the Senate report, a diplomatic security agent had placed Stevens and State Department aide Sean Smith in a “safe area” inside Building C. Militants used diesel fuel to set the building on fire. The agent attempted to lead the men toward an escape window. The agent crawled out.
“He then realized he had become separated from the Ambassador and Sean Smith in the smoke, so he reentered and searched the building multiple times,” the report says. “The DS agent, suffering from severe smoke inhalation, climbed a ladder to the roof where he radioed the other DS agents for assistance and attempted unsuccessfully to ventilate the building by breaking a skylight.”
This agent was armed with an M4 carbine but did not fire.
At some point early in the attack, other agents retrieved their M4 assault rifles, which are capable of unleashing a stream of 5.56-caliber automatic fire. But as they approached Building C, they encountered armed militants and “decided to return to Building B to take cover rather than open fire,” the Senate report says.
The February Brigade proved almost useless. The annex rescue team asked brigade members to provide cover fire so they could enter the compound, but the militia refused. A few followed the armored vehicles on foot into the complex.
The security team then engaged in a firefight and pushed back the attackers.
After searching in vain for Stevens, the rescue team returned to the annex. It fought through a hail of gunfire at one checkpoint, but all personnel made it back at 11:30 p.m., only to endure a night of militant attacks before a rescue team from the capital, Tripoli, arrived.