PRESIDENT TRUMP apparently wasn’t content merely to decapitate the Defense Department. Now, he is bent on lopping off limbs throughout this country’s intelligence apparatus. CIA Director Gina Haspel’s future is reportedly tenuous, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray also risks removal, and key officials in the Department of Homeland Security have been forced out already or expect to be shown the door soon.

The DHS dismissals, The Post reports, are part of a loyalty test imposed by 30-year-old White House Presidential Personnel Office director John McEntee. Anyone who doesn’t demonstrate absolute fealty to the president fails. Valerie Boyd helmed DHS’s international affairs until her ouster this week; Bryan Ware played a senior policy role at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. The head of that agency, Christopher Krebs, has told associates he fears he, too, will be pushed out of his position. The possible purge at CISA is especially alarming because of how closely tied the agency is to the protection of the election the lame-duck Mr. Trump continues, baselessly, to contest.

The DHS employees, it appears, are being punished for exemplary performance at an imposing task: coordinating with the thousands of local elections authorities to identify security vulnerabilities, and then communicating those vulnerabilities to the public without raising unnecessary alarm about the integrity of our system. They are also paying for their honesty about the outcome of the election. The success of CISA’s cybersecurity efforts enabled Mr. Krebs this week to commit what likely constitutes a sin in the eyes of the administration: joining many of those same local officials to release a statement declaring the election “the most secure in American history.”

CISA’s “Rumor Control” initiative has also proved essential in lending authoritative backing to debunk viral misinformation — even as the Oval Office itself has turned into a fountain of falsehoods. The White House, according to Reuters, has asked for content to be edited or removed from the Rumor Control hub, and CISA has refused.

The evisceration of CISA is appalling on principle, and taken together with the threats to the rest of the national security apparatus, it is deeply dangerous in practice — which perhaps accounts for the well-placed pushback from some congressional Republicans against the firing of Ms. Haspel in particular. They ought to keep pushing, and harder. Perhaps a vindictive president simply seeks to settle with those who have not unfailingly bowed down to him, or to deliver a crippled government to the administration to come. But it could be that his aim, as he continues his frivolous challenges to the election, is more nefarious even than that.

The outcome will be the same: a country protected by shells of the institutions responsible for keeping it safe, and therefore vulnerable both to adversaries abroad and to its own defeated leader.

Read more: