My sources are telling me that the secret CIA program involving a Dick Cheney coverup that is currently in the news consisted of dispatching assassination teams to various countries to kill individuals who were known to be al-Qaeda supporters but who, for various reasons, had not been detained by the governments of the countries in which they were residing. A number of those being targeted were living freely in Latin America, Africa, and Europe. The assassins were to be drawn from CIA’s own special ops group and also from delta force. They would enter the target countries as businessmen on false passports, some of which would be non-American, obtain weapons sent ahead through the diplomatic pouch to the US Embassy, kill the target, turn the weapons back over to an embassy contact, and leave the country. The program used delta soldiers initially because CIA SOG was fully engaged in Afghanistan. The first hit attempt was in Kenya, was botched, and the deltas had to be bailed out by the Ambassador who had not been briefed on what was going on under his nose. The program was suspended after that but never quite terminated.
The issues raised by such a program are obvious and it is clear that Dick Cheney knew that it would never fly through congress once the details were made clear. First, assassination by the USGOV has been illegal since the Church hearings in 1976. The Director of Central Intelligence can override the restriction, as can the president with a finding, but to do so in support of a program rather than a one-off would be risky. Second, the use of false foreign passports would create problems with any number of friendly governments if exposed. Third, killing terrorist suspects in countries that were friendly could easily escalate into major diplomatic incidents. Fourth, the use of Embassies to smuggle in weapons was very risky indeed as many foreign governments surreptitiously x-ray diplomatic pouches and the ploy would likely have been discovered. Finally, the entire scheme depends on excellent intelligence on the whereabouts and activities of the suspected terrorists, something that the US did not have then and does not have now. There was real danger that innocent people would get hit, just as occured with a similar Israeli Mossad program in the 1970s that killed a waiter in Oslo. The perpetrators in Kenya also quickly discovered that white boys born in the American south sporting crewcuts and speaking no foreign language had difficulties in blending in as foreign businessmen.
In principle, if there had been some way to decapitate al-Qaeda in the immediate days after 9/11 even by using extraordinary means, I think many Americans including myself would have been supportive. But in reality the capability to identify and hit the targets was never there, so it is best that the program never really took off.