Hersh lists Cheney's primary support team in this initiative as including Elliot Abrams, deputy national security advisor, Zalmay Khalilzad, former Ambassador to Iraq, and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi national security advisor.
The clandestine activity is part of a broader strategic "redirection" of Middle East policy intended to counter the ascendance of Iranian influence in the region.
Hersh cites "current and former American intelligence and military officials" as telling him that:
"Secret operations in Lebanon have been accompanied by clandestine operations targeting Iran. American military and special-operations teams have escalated their activities in Iran to gather intelligence and, according to a Pentagon consultant on terrorism and the former senior intelligence official, have also crossed the border in pursuit of Iranian operatives from Iraq."
Hersh also says the Executive Branch has been working around the normal Congressional appropriations process--assumedly to avoid oversight requirements--sometimes even relying on Saudi Arabia for the funding of covert operations.