That dang Seymour Hersh. The New Yorker scribe is always running saying crazy things to scare the bejesus out of us and, unfortunately, he's always right. Just like when he mentioned that Dick Cheney was running a CIA "death squad."

Reports the New York Times:

Since 2001, the Central Intelligence Agency has developed plans to dispatch small teams overseas to kill senior Qaeda terrorists, according to current and former government officials.

(CIA Director Leon) Panetta scuttled the program, which would have relied on paramilitary teams, shortly after the C.I.A.'s counterterrorism center recently informed him of its existence. The next day, June 24, he told the two Congressional Intelligence Committees that the plan had been hidden from lawmakers, initially at the instruction of former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Current and former officials said that the program was designed as a more "surgical" solution to eliminating terrorists than missile strikes with armed Predator drones, which cannot be used in cities and have occasionally resulted in dozens of civilian casualties.

Today's Times piece confirms what's been widely rumored of late—That Leon Panetta's June 24th disclosure to members of the Senate Intelligence committee had everything to do with Dick Cheney's rumored covert ops squads that Seymour Hersh had spoken of. Whether or not any of this was legal appears to be open for debate at this point.

CIA Had Plans To Assassinate Qaeda Leaders [New York Times]