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Old November 5 2012, 02:29 AM   #54
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Location: Montgomery County, State of Maryland
Re: Section 31 after DS9

LobsterAfternoon wrote: View Post
Nothing canonically says that 31 is above the law,
Except the actual dialogue:

Inquisition wrote:
Are you telling me you've beenoperating on your own ever since? Without specific orders? Accountable to nobody, but yourselves?

You make it sound so... ominous.
No organization that is accountable to nobody but itself is accountable to the law.

While we may interpret Bashir's treatment by Sloane to be improper, for all we know, there's some sort of legal justification for it.
There was no legal justification for the abduction and torture of a Federation citizen.

For a real world example, drone strikes in the Middle East against terrorists. Normally it would be quite illegal for the Defense Department to assassinate American citizens, especially without putting them on trial first. But my country (apologies, I don't know if you're American or not) is doing just that.
There's no "normally" about it. The assassination of United States citizens is illegal and unconstitutional, period. And putting out a hit on a U.S. citizen -- not executed by due process of law, but putting out a hit on them -- is an act of horrific tyranny.

(apologies, I don't know if you're American or not)
I am a proud United States citizen, born and raised in Ohio.

Regarding a lack of canonical legal grounds for 31 to exist: absence of proof isn't proof of absence.
The burden of proof is on Section 31 to justify its existence. If no proof is produced, then there is no legal right for it to exist.

As for Starfleet answering to the executive branch: certainly that seems to usually be the case. But Memory Alpha says that the Fed Council (legislative) occasionally gives Starfleet orders (Star Trek 4 being a good example). No reason Section 31 couldn't be an aspect of Starfleet that falls under non-executive authority.
The Federation Council occasionally shares authority over Starfleet with the President, yes. So does Congress today -- if Congress were to pass a law making it illegal for the United States Army to enter Iran, for instance, the President would have no authority to order the Army to enter Iran.

This does not mean that it is legal for Section 31 to spy on the President. To argue otherwise is to demonstrate a poor understanding of the rule of law and the separation of powers.

As for spying on the President: while spying on him may be illegal, that act alone wouldn't make 31 illegal.
That act alone isn't being evaluated. It is being evaluated in the context of everything else about them being illegal or lacking legal justification.

Additionally, I don't remember the context under which we found out that 31 had an operative in the Prez's cabinet. Do they make it clear that the operative was indeed spying, or merely that a 31 employee works in the cabinet, perhaps the way defense department officials advise the president?
"Extreme Measures" established that a member of the Cabinet -- meaning, a Federation Secretary heading an executive department, not a mere adviser -- was an operative of Section 31 whose job it was to spy on President Jaresh-Inyo and his administration.
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