\Picard makes a bad situation worse. We're told the Federation backs this, Dougherty makes it clear Picard is free to leave and report whatever he wants, it probably won't change anything or it'll be to late cause of the time table they're own. Ruafo didn't care beyond Picard might cause a debate in the senate...oops council; he was cool with letting Picard report till it looked like it might fuck up his time table or might cause someone in power to change their minds.
So Picard encouraging debate in his supposedly democratic society is a bad thing?
If that was what he had done, no it isn't. He should have gathered up Data, ran out of the patch, made his report, and then flown back to stall things.
What he did do was force Ruafo's hand, piss him off, and speed and escalate the matter and then decided to "slow things down".
If I was doing things in a "better" order:
* Picard "saves" Data. Leaves the patch.
* Makes his report, gets some BS about it being under review or the Federation is aware of the matter and will update him.
* Picard takes the yacht back to the planet, sneaks past he S'ona.
* Riker stays on station to wait for an answer.
* Incredible journey to nowhere.
* Riker gets orders to have the S'ona and Dougherty halt the operation till the Council can review the new information.
* Dougherty obeys orders, gets killed, Big space battle as Riker tries to stop the S'ona.
* Pretty as is from there.
Actually...cut the S'ona out all together.
Have the Enterprise crew being the ones doing the observation. Starfleet gets the news of the miracle rings, decision made to harvest the planet. Warp in Dougherty with his flagship and a couple of more smaller ships); same ground "battle" but Federation on Federation, Space battle Federation on Federation.