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View Poll Results: Rate Rough Beasts Of Empire
Outstanding 36 25.53%
Above Average 58 41.13%
Average 25 17.73%
Below Average 13 9.22%
Poor 9 6.38%
Voters: 141. You may not vote on this poll

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Old March 1 2011, 10:16 PM   #376
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

Christopher wrote: View Post
It's naive to treat a conspiracy as some kind of self-sustaining perpetual-motion machine that can remain unaltered in its agenda and power even when all the people who were originally behind it have retired or died. The only reason most imagined conspiracies like the Kennedy assassination never get uncovered is because they never existed in the first place. Real conspiracies like Watergate and Iran-Contra tend to come out within a few years. Because it's really not that easy to keep a secret in a democratic government with a free press.
The ongoing controversy over the deep state, which has seen many of its members including a goodly share of the secular political and military elites brought to trial for taking part in a general subversion of Turkish democracy (coup-planning, assassinations, etc) comes to mind. And even in Turkey, the idea of the deep state long predated the AKP's election: in the mid-1990s, for instance, there was a famous incident with a car crash.

On Nov. 3, 1996, three people were crushed to death when their speeding black Mercedes hit a tractor and overturned. The crash killed Husseyin Kocadag, a top police official who commanded Turkish counter-insurgency units.

But it was Kocadag's company that stunned the nation. The two other dead were Abdullah Catli, a convicted fugitive who was wanted for drug trafficking and murder, and Catli's girlfriend, Gonca Us, a Turkish beauty queen turned mafia hit-woman. A fourth occupant, who survived the crash, was Kurdish warlord Sedat Bucak, whose militia had been armed and financed by the Turkish government to fight Kurdish separatists.

At first, Turkish officials claimed that the police were transporting two captured criminals. But evidence seized at the crash site indicated that Abdullah Catli, the fugitive gangster, had been given special diplomatic credentials by Turkish authorities. Catli was carrying a government-approved weapons permit and six ID cards, each with a different name. Catli also possessed several handguns, silencers and a cache of narcotics, not the picture of a subdued criminal.

When it became obvious that Catli was a police collaborator, not a captive, the Turkish Interior Minister resigned. Several high-ranking law enforcement officers, including Istanbul's police chief, were suspended. But the red-hot scandal soon threatened to jump that bureaucratic firebreak and endanger the careers of other senior government officials.

The news of Catli's secret police ties were all the more scandalous given his well-known role as a key leader of the Grey Wolves, a neo-fascist terrorist group that has stalked Turkey since the late 1960s. A young tough who wore black leather pants and looked like Turkey's answer to Elvis Presley, Catli graduated from street gang violence to become a brutal enforcer for the Grey Wolves. He rose quickly within their ranks, emerging as second-in-command in 1978. That year, Turkish police linked him to the murder of seven trade-union activists and Catli went underground.

Three years later, the Grey Wolves gained international notoriety when Mehmet Ali Agca, one of Catli's closest collaborators, shot and nearly killed Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Square on May 13, 1981. Catli was the leader of a fugitive terrorist cell that included Agca and a handful of other Turkish neo-fascists.
Turks knew about their own Section 31 equivalent long before the deep state trials. Surely, if we're assuming that the people of the Federation are anything but stupid, they would have noticed by now that a ruthless secret conspiracy of ancient history was running around manipulating things and disappearing people! Romulans knew of the Tal Shi'ar and Cardassians of the Obsidian Order ...

The only way I can buy S31 continuing to exist is if they've been mostly inactive over Federation history. I always figured they stay pretty much dormant in peacetime and only become active in times of major crisis like the Dominion War. But the past few years have been so fraught with one crisis after another that S31 has become a lot more active, and that just makes it all the more inevitable that they'll be exposed.
The death of Min Zife is going to get S31 in the end. His disappearance is too big a story to hide indefinitely.
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Old March 1 2011, 10:19 PM   #377
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

Enterprise1981 wrote: View Post
Assuming Section 31 was in on the Khitomer Conspiracy, then they just let people like Admiral Cartwright and Valeris take the fall. Or they just let Admiral Pressman and others take the fall for getting caught experimenting with an illegal phasing cloak.
Why would Section 31 necessarily be involved with the Khitomer Conspiracy? There's room for other conspiratorial networks out there, and it's not obvious that Federation security would be enhanced by assassinating the leaders of the galactic superpowers with the aim of starting a cold war (one that might well turn hot, if the Romulans' overtures are accepted).
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Old March 1 2011, 10:20 PM   #378
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

Admiral_Young wrote: View Post
I think fans also forget that Starfleet has it's own normal intelligence agency. Section 31 gets tossed in way too much. Sloan has told us that it operates outside of Starfleet to protect the Federation's best interests. I would surmise that it would only take on operations it deems to be the upmost threat to the Federation. Not just any old run of the mill intelligence op. That's not the impression of Section 31 that I get.
I think their also confusing Section 31 with Mass Effect's Cerberus who lets face are a lot better at the amoral covert splinter cell with no accountibility thing the 31 is.
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Old March 1 2011, 10:32 PM   #379
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

Rush Limborg wrote: View Post
Christopher wrote: View Post
Typical paranoid thinking. Oooh, the conspiracy is all-powerful and smarter than everyone and they've fooled us all, oooh!
Chris...with all respect, is that really necessary, to mock and straw-man like that?
His comments are a completely accurate summation of your argument. You have presented no evidence for your thesis that Section 31 would be that powerful, that knowledgeable, that intuitive, and that cunning, to the point of knowing about Tzenkethi operations on Romulus and staying in existence after the public thinks it's been rounded up and imprisoned for its crimes. All you have presented is an emotional "But it's been so secret and so good for so long" argument -- an argument based more upon emotional than logic, and which disregards the fact that a large percentage of the Section 31 operations we know about have been completely incompetent.

Surely we can have a debate on this without making it personal. Sheesh!
He did not insult you, he insulted your line of thinking. Your line of thinking is absurd, irrational, and deserves to be mocked far more mercilessly than Christopher did.
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Old March 1 2011, 11:44 PM   #380
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

rfmcdpei wrote: View Post
Why would Section 31 necessarily be involved with the Khitomer Conspiracy?
Yeah, that's the other problem with conspiracy-theory thinking that annoys me so much -- this assumption that just because Section 31 exists, it must be the only organization behind any and every secretive or unethical event that's ever happened in Federation history. It's part of the paranoid mentality that underlies conspiracy fantasies, the need to fit everything into some overarching pattern with a singular root cause. But like I said, any conspiracy that far-reaching and active would not be able to maintain its secrecy effectively. Not to mention that it's just plain Small-Universe Syndrome.
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Old March 2 2011, 12:02 AM   #381
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

Christopher wrote: View Post
Typical paranoid thinking...
Then can I assume you don't buy one of the premises of "The Event", where for 66 years a "secret society" that transcends the authority of the US government had been holding aliens in a mega-secret prison facility and only now a President stumbles across it and decides to undo the damage so to speak?

Yes, Section 31 has been overused in that all the series ensembles know of it according to the crossover novel series. In fact, the Hidden Frontier movie Operation Beta Shield talks of Section 31 like everyone knows about it, but not even the UFP president himself can put a stop to its illegal activities.

I'll certainly buy that the cloaking device Kirk stole in "The Enterprise Incident" was Section 31's template for the phasing cloak, but not that Section 31 ordered the mission. In Cloak, Kirk suspects that Cartwright had his own hidden agenda, but nothing more. But if Section 31 was willing to help Archer and company undermine the activities of Terra Prime, I doubt they were masterminds behind the Khitomer conspiracy.

Rush does make a good point that the organization is de-centralized, so they couldn't be entirely weeded out in one fell swoop. The Bajoran Underground was able to walk amongst the general public for fifty years without being completely eradicated. And 31 has managed to stay in hiding for three centuries within a society more technologically advanced than that of the present day with their biggest secrets passed on from one generation to the next. But who is say they would remain as powerful and influential between the 25th century events of The Good That Men Do and the 31st century?
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Old March 2 2011, 12:17 AM   #382
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

Christopher wrote: View Post
rfmcdpei wrote: View Post
Why would Section 31 necessarily be involved with the Khitomer Conspiracy?
Yeah, that's the other problem with conspiracy-theory thinking that annoys me so much -- this assumption that just because Section 31 exists, it must be the only organization behind any and every secretive or unethical event that's ever happened in Federation history. It's part of the paranoid mentality that underlies conspiracy fantasies, the need to fit everything into some overarching pattern with a singular root cause. But like I said, any conspiracy that far-reaching and active would not be able to maintain its secrecy effectively. Not to mention that it's just plain Small-Universe Syndrome.
I actually agree, Chris.

"Starfleet doesn't sneak around! It's immoral!"
But Kirk and Spock snuck around in "The Enterprise Incident".
"Section 31!"

"Starfleet wouldn't conspire to assasinate people! It's immoral!"
Cartwright did, in The Undiscovered Country.
"Section 31!"

"Starfleet wouldn't secretly do expiriments which break a treaty! It's immoral!"
Admiral Pressmen did, in "The Pegasus".
"Section 31!"

And my all-time favorite:
"Starfleet wouldn't forcibly relocate an entire people! The Federation Council would NEVER give such an order! It's immoral!"
What about Insurrection?
"Section 31!"

I could take the others, to an extent...but when I read that "reveal" in Abyss...I gave a considerable mental groan and eye-roll.
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Old March 2 2011, 12:26 AM   #383
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

Christopher wrote: View Post
rfmcdpei wrote: View Post
Why would Section 31 necessarily be involved with the Khitomer Conspiracy?
Yeah, that's the other problem with conspiracy-theory thinking that annoys me so much -- this assumption that just because Section 31 exists, it must be the only organization behind any and every secretive or unethical event that's ever happened in Federation history. It's part of the paranoid mentality that underlies conspiracy fantasies, the need to fit everything into some overarching pattern with a singular root cause. But like I said, any conspiracy that far-reaching and active would not be able to maintain its secrecy effectively. Not to mention that it's just plain Small-Universe Syndrome.
Out of curiosity, has there been a novel written yet where Section 31 was doing the right thing? It's always bothered me that they seem to exist only to be dastardly. As an ultra-secret organization concerned with the security of the Federation, shouldn't they have maybe done something right once or twice in their existence?
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Old March 2 2011, 12:35 AM   #384
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

Novels...not to my knowledge--but sometimes, it depends on one's definition of "right". Still, I agree--for all the talk about the DS9 writers intending them to force fans to do some soul-searching, a la "In The Pale Moonlight"...they tend to be painted as clear-cut bad guys, and every time we almost have a legit debate in the novels--it gets shoved aside by our "heroes".

As for episodes...well, they help out Archer and Co. in "Demons/Terra Prime". Other than that...well, I could defend other actions of theirs, but...little or nothing clear-cut "moral".
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Old March 2 2011, 12:39 AM   #385
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

Enterprise1981 wrote: View Post
Then can I assume you don't buy one of the premises of "The Event", where for 66 years a "secret society" that transcends the authority of the US government had been holding aliens in a mega-secret prison facility and only now a President stumbles across it and decides to undo the damage so to speak?
Never seen that show, and as should be clear, I'm not a fan of conspiracy stories.


Rush does make a good point that the organization is de-centralized, so they couldn't be entirely weeded out in one fell swoop.
But again, it's inconsistent to argue both that they're so decentralized and that they could somehow retain a continuous identity and influence for generations as their membership changes. If they're that decentralized, then what was left after the big "weeding out" would just be a few malcontents here and there, nothing big enough, organized enough, or influential enough to have any major influence on events. I can marginally buy Section 31 managing to infiltrate its way into positions of influence once, particularly during the Dominion War when Federation and Starfleet officials were desperate and willing to compromise their principles for expediency. But it must've taken time to build up such a network in secret. If their role as an active manipulator of the government and the military were exposed, if their agents in those organizations were weeded out, then those organizations and the public would be on the alert against them from then on, and it would be hard for the few lingering remnants to gain any influence. So even if there were still a few scattered S31 loyalists here and there, the organization would still be effectively gone as a relevant force in the Federation. And those few lingering fragments would probably just die out or change focus eventually.


The Bajoran Underground was able to walk amongst the general public for fifty years without being completely eradicated.
That's because the general public wanted them there. Study your history. Terrorist and dissident groups are only able to function within a society if they have the cooperation of the general populace. Lots of people know about them, even provide them with resources and shelter, but they choose not to reveal what they know to the authorities, because they agree with what the group is doing, or at least see them as a necessary evil.

There is no way that the rank-and-file populace of the Federation would approve of Section 31, so they wouldn't give them succor or help them elude the authorities. It's simply not a viable analogy.

And 31 has managed to stay in hiding for three centuries within a society more technologically advanced than that of the present day with their biggest secrets passed on from one generation to the next.
That's the allegation. But the fact that something is asserted in fiction is not evidence that it's reasonable. The question is, how have they allegedly done that? Assertion isn't explanation.
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Old March 2 2011, 12:45 AM   #386
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

Rush Limborg wrote: View Post
Novels...not to my knowledge--but sometimes, it depends on one's definition of "right". Still, I agree--for all the talk about the DS9 writers intending them to force fans to do some soul-searching, a la "In The Pale Moonlight"...they tend to be painted as clear-cut bad guys, and every time we almost have a legit debate in the novels--it gets shoved aside by our "heroes".

As for episodes...well, they help out Archer and Co. in "Demons/Terra Prime". Other than that...well, I could defend other actions of theirs, but...little or nothing clear-cut "moral".
Yeah, I failed to use quotes around "right" in my last post. Obviously anything they do is questionable just by their very existence. I just would love to see someone write something where S31's actions aren't so rigidly defined as "bad" like they generally seem to be. I just don't see the entire organization being as completely morally bankrupt as they're consistently portrayed.

Though I did forget about that little bit in Demons/TP.
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Old March 2 2011, 01:19 AM   #387
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

[QUOTE=Christopher;4779021]
Enterprise1981 wrote: View Post
Rush does make a good point that the organization is de-centralized, so they couldn't be entirely weeded out in one fell swoop.
But again, it's inconsistent to argue both that they're so decentralized and that they could somehow retain a continuous identity and influence for generations as their membership changes. If they're that decentralized, then what was left after the big "weeding out" would just be a few malcontents here and there, nothing big enough, ... And those few lingering fragments would probably just die out or change focus eventually.
And that's my point that if Daniels was in fact part of the 31st century version of Section 31, then it wouldn't be the same Section 31 as in the 24th century.

The Bajoran Underground was able to walk amongst the general public for fifty years without being completely eradicated.
That's because the general public wanted them there.
By general public, I mean Bajorans (who did want them around) and Cardassians (who didn't). It's easy to forget Cardassian civilians were living on Bajor. So were they innocent victims of the Resistance? That particular episode left it open to interpretation.
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Old March 2 2011, 01:20 AM   #388
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

Christopher wrote: View Post
But again, it's inconsistent to argue both that they're so decentralized and that they could somehow retain a continuous identity and influence for generations as their membership changes. If they're that decentralized, then what was left after the big "weeding out" would just be a few malcontents here and there, nothing big enough, organized enough, or influential enough to have any major influence on events. I can marginally buy Section 31 managing to infiltrate its way into positions of influence once, particularly during the Dominion War when Federation and Starfleet officials were desperate and willing to compromise their principles for expediency. But it must've taken time to build up such a network in secret. If their role as an active manipulator of the government and the military were exposed, if their agents in those organizations were weeded out, then those organizations and the public would be on the alert against them from then on, and it would be hard for the few lingering remnants to gain any influence. So even if there were still a few scattered S31 loyalists here and there, the organization would still be effectively gone as a relevant force in the Federation. And those few lingering fragments would probably just die out or change focus eventually.
Although admittedly such a radically decentralized conspiracy could "mutate" easily. The Triads founded to oppose one Chinese dynasty or another became organized crime networks, for instance. There may be descendants of Section 31, somewhere, with very different aims.

There is no way that the rank-and-file populace of the Federation would approve of Section 31, so they wouldn't give them succor or help them elude the authorities. It's simply not a viable analogy.
In he examples I mentioned earlier, the conspiracies survived only because they had broad support. In the case of the Organisation de l'Armée Sécrète, the OAS people were fighting to retain an Algeria that was an integral territory of France and home to more than a million French citizens, part of a broader effort to keep France relevant as a major power. In the case of the Turkish deep state, the belief that Ataturk's secularization and republican reforms saved Turkey from annihilation post-WW1--not indefensible, actually; separate issue--inspired generations of people working for the Turkish state to believe that whatever it took to keep the republic as it was was a justified act.
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Old March 2 2011, 01:23 AM   #389
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

Enterprise1981 wrote: View Post
By general public, I mean Bajorans (who did want them around) and Cardassians (who didn't). It's easy to forget Cardassian civilians were living on Bajor. So were they innocent victims of the Resistance? That particular episode left it open to interpretation.
The evidence seems to suggest that even at their peak Cardassians were only a small minority of the Bajoran planetary population (millions, versus billions).

It also doesn't speak to Christopher's point: the Bajoran Resistance survived only because very large numbers of Bajorans were willing to cover for them. DS9 featured at least one instance when Resistance fighters were betrayed by a single person--Opaka, anyone? If Bajorans had been willing to tolerate their Cardassian protectorate, then the Resistance wouldn't have lasted.

Section 31 just isn't in a comparable position.
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Old March 2 2011, 01:47 AM   #390
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Bishop76 wrote: View Post

Yeah, I failed to use quotes around "right" in my last post. Obviously anything they do is questionable just by their very existence. I just would love to see someone write something where S31's actions aren't so rigidly defined as "bad" like they generally seem to be. I just don't see the entire organization being as completely morally bankrupt as they're consistently portrayed.
In the 22nd century, they seemed to be well-intentioned. But by the 24th century, they've been dedicated to preserving their own secrecy and impunity for so long that those have become their overriding priorities and national defense is simply their excuse. Remember, they're an illegal organization, answerable to no one, willing to do anything to conceal their existence or fulfill their agendas. Would you have trouble seeing the Mafia as morally bankrupt? S31, the 24th-century version, is more of a criminal cabal than a security agency.


Enterprise1981 wrote: View Post
And that's my point that if Daniels was in fact part of the 31st century version of Section 31, then it wouldn't be the same Section 31 as in the 24th century.
There is absolutely no basis for that hypothetical. It's like saying "If Robert Picard were in fact part of the 24th-century version of the French East India Company." It's a totally random suggestion.


By general public, I mean Bajorans (who did want them around) and Cardassians (who didn't). It's easy to forget Cardassian civilians were living on Bajor. So were they innocent victims of the Resistance? That particular episode left it open to interpretation.
I don't know what episode you're referring to, but either way, it's not a valid analogy, because the existence of the Bajoran Resistance was not remotely secret. On the contrary, they asserted themselves quite publicly. Let's be clear: the issue on the table here is not about how long an organization can endure; it's about how long a secret can endure. What I'm saying is that the larger a secret is, the shorter its life expectancy as a secret. The more people that are involved, the more opportunities there are for the secret to be exposed. What's implausible, what's self-contradictory, is the premise that Section 31 could be a huge, powerful, pervasive organization for centuries yet still be unknown to the authorities and the public. Either they're big or they're secret -- it's not plausible for them to be both.


rfmcdpei wrote: View Post
Although admittedly such a radically decentralized conspiracy could "mutate" easily. The Triads founded to oppose one Chinese dynasty or another became organized crime networks, for instance. There may be descendants of Section 31, somewhere, with very different aims.
Indeed, I'd argue that the S31 of the 24th century must be a largely different organization from the one operating in the 22nd. As I've said, the earlier organization seemed much more benevolent. The modern S31 essentially is an organized-crime network.

But the postulate on the table is that S31 could be largely exposed and dismantled, but it would be decentralized enough that a few isolated cells would survive. It seems those cells would have to be fairly small and not have much influence. Whatever they evolved into, it would probably be something relatively petty on the interstellar scale. And Section 31 as a secret power within the Federation government and military would still have effectively ceased to exist, so what remained would no longer be relevant. (In the same way that there are still fringe groups within the American South that consider themselves loyal to the Confederacy, but that doesn't change the fact that the Confederate States of America no longer exists.)
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