The Capitalists’ Paper of Record, the Wall Street Journal, is reporting (as of about 10 minutes ago!) that the “unspecified” CIA program Cheney ordered the agency to withhold from legally-required Congressional intel briefings, and the Gang of Eight, more precisely, was a “covert capture or kill”* operation. Per the WSJ:
. . .capture or kill al Qaeda operatives, according to former intelligence officials familiar with the matter. . .
. . .In 2001, the CIA also examined the subject of targeted assassinations of al Qaeda leaders, according to three former intelligence officials. It appears that those discussions tapered off within six months. It isn’t clear whether they were an early part of the CIA initiative that Mr. Panetta stopped. . .
So, the Republican defense tactic here, will be to “dress it up” — as a program to carry out a presidential directive.
One would think that CIA Director Panetta would have asked whether the program was pursuant to a presidential order, or finding, before briefing Congress, in late June.
So — I suspect — the actual “Blackbriar/Treadstone” project Cheney kept under wraps for eight years, will turn out to be something else. Something broader, or more specific — but not something that Bush had ordered be carried out, with specificity.
That’s my guess.
* In this scene from the second installment of the "Bourne" trilogy -- depicted, above (click to enlarge) -- Jason Bourne (armed with nothing but a tape recorder) extracts a confession (about unauthorized assassinations of international political leaders), from his CIA branch chief.