The worst danger, in my view, is that these shifts will lead officials to equate fidelity to a spouse with fidelity to a nation. Fairly well-read in CIA history and briefed by friends already in the agency, I began to list all the off-limits-without-director-approval approaches an operations officer might attempt. They search the strengths and weaknesses of character in the foreigners they want to recruit and run as agents; few things are off limits. To my knowledge, the CIA has always kept its distance from operations that might pit girlfriend against boyfriend, mistress against lover, or wife against husband. The CIA has a long history of getting into trouble, then overcorrecting for its perceived sins. Before starting my task, the woman asked me what was the one thing I was not permitted to do to win. Case officers, the CIA personnel who handle intelligence-collection and covert-action operations, are bottom-feeders. Contrary to the depiction of aggressive CIA interrogation in Zero Dark Thirty , the institution has become a very cautious one.