Operation Treadstone (or usually just Treadstone; in the novels, Treadstone71 or Treadstone Seventy-One) was a top-secret black ops program of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the Jason Bourne series of novels and movies. It recruited only United States Service members to turn them into nearly superhuman assassins and was formed in direct response to the Congressional Act which banned the U.S. from partaking in any assassinations, as sometimes assassination is considered necessary to keep the United States safe. It used a behavior-modification program to break down the assassins' morality and make them effective nearly unstoppable living weapons. After the morality break down, presumably, the assassins received advanced training in all kinds of spy tradecraft. The last surviving member of Treadstone is Jason Bourne. It had a successor, which was Operation Blackbriar. In the novels, it was formed after the Vietnam War. Treadstone71 was the successor to the pre-Vietnam Operation Silverlake.
Treadstone is a highly covert, clandestine assassination program within the CIA, opearting from an office in the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. It is so secretive that nobody is aware of the existence of the program outside the very people running it, with the knowledge of Treadstone only known by the CIA Director itself. The assassination program targets individuals who represent an immediate threat to the U.S government or the CIA itself; usually individuals with the knowledge of CIA's shadowy interests or people who need to be silenced to prevent exposure of highly clandestine information.
Treadstone is unique in a regard that it only operates a small network of highly trained operatives with limited oversight. While other programs usually detail and plan the assassinations themselves, Treadstone has an opposite approach, only providing the target to the operative, who then plan and organize assassinations on their own. Ostenibly, while this may be due to the level of intense training and intelligence of Treadstone operatives, in reality, it serves to prevent any uneccessary risks of exposure on the field. By placing the burden of planning and excercising operations solely to their operatives, it allows the program to run with a minimum amount of personnel, without the need of extensive field network of operatives (such as surveillance, recon and assault teams), instead combining them together into selected number of highly skilled individuals who are then trained to be elite assassins..
Richard Webb - Creator and Founder, Stationed in Beirut, Lebanon.
Ward Abbott - Head of Operations.
Alexander Conklin - Field Director. Stationed in Langley, Virginia.
Albert Hirsch - Director of the Treadstone training program.
Neil Daniels - Supervising Training Officer.
Nicky Parsons - Field logistics coordinator and agent handler. Stationed in Paris, France.
Daniel Zorn - Assistant to Conklin, and later to Abbott.
Treadstone operatives are very capable assassins. They leave no trace of their existence. Conklin states that while anyone can carry out an assassination, Treadstone agents are meant to be "invisible".
- "They don't make mistakes. They don't do random. There's always an objective, always a target."
- ―Nicky Parsons[src]
Treadstone operatives are highly trained in numerous killing techniques and the use of improvised weapons. They possess nearly superhuman levels of proficiency with firearms and other weapons. Their skills include sharpshooting, explosives, vehicle operation, and (advanced) hand-to-hand combat. All Treadstone agents have excellent observational skills, heightened target awareness, lightning reflexes, peak-human physical condition, escape-evasion abilities, and mental process which also gives them the ability to think quickly and calmly in stressful situations.
The following is a list of known members (current and former) of Treadstone:
- Jason Bourne/John Michael Kane - Based out of Paris, France.
- Professor - Based out of Barcelona, Spain.
- Castel - Based out of Rome, Italy.
- Manheim - Based out of Hamburg, Germany.
- Jarda - Based out of Munich, Germany.
- Bootlace - Based out of Calshot, UK
- Secret 01- Based out of (Classified SCI Lev.6).
Physical / Psychological Effects
Due to the stringent and experimental training program, Treadstone operatives were recorded to have experienced a number of physical problems due to the physical and mental enhancement. These include suffering from chronic headaches, consistent fatigue due to the stresses of their job, and sensitivity to bright lights.
The most dramatic effect is amnesia. This was experienced only once, by Jason Bourne. Bourne's amnesia was the result of conversion hysteria resulting from circumstantial stress in addition to latent, preexisting stress imposed by the conditioning process. Bourne lost his entire biographical memory, including his name, origin and profession. He retained basic functions, such as addition, subtraction, making coffee, knot tying, and shuffling cards. He also retains an almost instinctive ability to perform well in combat situations. As of The Bourne Supremacy, he has regained parts of his memory, mostly those related to the most emotionally charged of his past actions (i.e. his assassination missions).
Treadstone is currently, as of The Bourne Legacy film, inactive. It was shut down two years before Supremacy, at the end of The Bourne Identity film. In Legacy, Treadstone has been shown to be a Beta program along with Blackbriar, for creating superspies through genetic engineering.
- Treadstone agents have hardly any or no speaking lines, to give the illusion that these figures are ominous.
- The Bourne Legacy 2012 film reveals that LARX-3 has Operation Treadstone capabilities but without the inconsistency.
- It is probable that Treadstone and its successor Operation Blackbriar were clandestine programs within the C.I.A.'s Special Activities Division (SAD).
*These Treadstone agents aren't featured in the films or the game -- Their names are possibly codenames resembling animals.