Since this is the best recent Prime Directive discussion I could find, I wanted to share an observation.
I'm rewatching TOS "The Apple." Interesting bit of dialog in the opening teaser:
(Kirk, Spock, Chekov, Yeoman Landon and two guards have beamed down to study a new world.)
KIRK: Start your readings.
(McCoy and two more guards beam down.)
MCCOY: Well, I just might stake out a claim and settle down here, Jim.
KIRK: It is spectacular, isn't it?
MCCOY: It's a shame to have to intrude.
KIRK: Well, the last scout ship reported some pretty strange sensor readings. Starfleet wants it investigated and the inhabitants contacted. We do what we're told.
So, this planet had been previously surveyed. Surely such an initial survey would reveal the technological level of the natives. Due to the unusual readings, Starfleet wanted Kirk to contact the inhabitants. Now, the landing party beamed down in uniform with visible display of phasers, tricorders and communicators.
Starfleet wanted the Enterprise crew to directly contact a pre-warp, technologically inferior culture.
Wouldn't this order directly conflict with the Prime Directive? Even in the TOS depiction of the Prime Directive "No identification of self or mission, no interference with the social development of said planet, no references to space, or the fact that there are other worlds, or more advanced civilizations.
It kind of begs the question about civilian oversight of Starfleet.
If Starfleet command ordered a ship to make contact with a civilization which was in direct conflict with the PD, isn't there a civilian oversight board to stop them? Given the vastness of the Federation and Starfleet, the UFP President wouldn't have time to handle it him/herself.