The CIA is entering a danger zone. Here’s the map.

● Finally, and most important, the administration Pompeo serves is in disarray. The president is trying to bad-mouth his attorney general into resigning, and he may plan to fire special counsel Robert S. Mueller III next. The country needs steadiness and independence from the CIA. Pompeo should think about institutional and constitutional obligations, as well as presidential ones. He knows where the accelerator is, but he should also look for the brake.

Richard Helms, perhaps the most astute director in the CIA’s history, was so wary of getting involved in policy debates that it’s said he excused himself from presidential briefings once he had delivered the intelligence. President Lyndon B. Johnson supposedly would press him to stay and offer his views.

Pompeo, a blunt ex-congressman, appears to have the opposite instinct. He’s at the White House nearly every day, and it’s said that his briefings with Trump sometimes veer back and forth between intelligence and policy matters. Trump wants action; Pompeo wants to deliver. This can-do temptation is inherent in the relationship between any president and CIA director, but in this case, it may be a cause for concern.

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