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 U.S. 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 so top-secret that several Deputy Directors of the CIA have no idea that it even exists. In the books, Treadstone headquarters is located in New York City and looks simply like a dilapidated house but is in reality a fortress, having bullet resistant glass and multiple security systems. It is, in this context, a top secret operation to trap the international assassin, Carlos, by creating a mythical assassin called Cain.
In the movies, Treadstone is headquartered in an office at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Its membership consists of many agents, who are essentially assassins, based in different countries around the world. As sleeper agents they lead normal lives (piano teachers, businessmen, etc) until "activated". At this point they can be quickly deployed on missions after which they presumably go back to their daily lives until called upon again. Access to Treadstone archives and files requires a Level 5 Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) clearance or higher.
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).
- Operation Blackbriar
- Treadstone 71 (U.S. Corporation)
*These Treadstone agents aren't featured in the films or the game -- Their names are possibly codenames resembling animals.