At Saddam's Bombed Palace

wreckage from presidential compound bombed in baghdad on opening door of war

The mystery of what happened to Saddam Hussein begins at a palace compound called Dora Farms on the southern outskirts of Baghdad. The war began here ten weeks ago when the U.S. dropped bombs and cruise missiles in an attempt to kill the Iraqi dictator.

CBS News became the first news organization to visit Dora Farms.

CBS National Security Correspondent David Martin found that U.S. intelligence was wrong about one crucial fact and the strike was not a complete success despite Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's March 21 statement that "the strike on that leadership headquarters was successful."

And despite comments by the Air Force general who commanded the strike that if Saddam was there he was probably killed.

No one has searched Dora Farms more carefully than Tim Madere, a U.S. Army colonel assigned the task of searching sensitive sites.

Madere says no bodies have been found here.

The Air Force dropped four 2,000-pound bombs on the site because intelligence said there was a bunker complex hidden beneath the buildings. But Madere has yet to find it.

The compound has been searched three times – once by the CIA and twice by Madere, trying to find Saddam's DNA.

"When we came out here the primary thing they were looking for was an underground facility, or bodies, forensics," says Madere. "And basically what they saw was giant holes created. No underground facilities, no bodies."

Every structure in the compound was destroyed, except one building – the main palace – hidden behind a wall topped by electrified barbed wire. It's a shambles, windows have been blown out, but it is not destroyed.

Madere says a person in the house "could have survived."

One weapon clearly missed the compound. Others landed just outside the wall, destroying other buildings.

This doesn't solve the mystery of what happened to Saddam, but the clues at Dora Farms leave no doubt he could have survived.