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Old February 15 2013, 10:25 AM   #76
King Daniel Into Darkness
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Re: Section 31...

Pavonis wrote: View Post
We both know that behind the scenes stuff isn't the same as onscreen material. Canonically, the connection between Harris and Sloane is extremely thin.
That's like saying the Earth in DS9 isn't the Earth from TOS and TNG. After all, TOS established several identical duplicates throughout the galaxy, so the odds are it's one of them.
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Old February 15 2013, 02:23 PM   #77
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Re: Section 31...

Hartzilla2007 wrote: View Post
The Wormhole wrote: View Post
It would seem in the 24th century, traditional prison time is the norm again in the Federation, and I doubt a starship captain who launched unprovoked attacks on an ally and killed innocent people serving on said ally's starships would only get a six month sentence.
Um, The Cardassians were not the federation's allies. They just had a recent peace treaty with them. I mean hell the Cardassians were rearming for war against them in that episode Maxwell's problem was that he went about dealing with it the wrong way.
"They're our allies, Mr Worf. We have to trust them." Actual quote from the beginning of the episode.
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Old February 15 2013, 04:10 PM   #78
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Re: Section 31...

The likliest fate for Ben Maxwell: When the war erupted a man of his training would have been too valuable to remain languishing in detention. He was probably assigned to the front lines and was an early casualty.
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Old February 15 2013, 04:21 PM   #79
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Re: Section 31...

The Wormhole wrote: View Post
Hartzilla2007 wrote: View Post
The Wormhole wrote: View Post
It would seem in the 24th century, traditional prison time is the norm again in the Federation, and I doubt a starship captain who launched unprovoked attacks on an ally and killed innocent people serving on said ally's starships would only get a six month sentence.
Um, The Cardassians were not the federation's allies. They just had a recent peace treaty with them. I mean hell the Cardassians were rearming for war against them in that episode Maxwell's problem was that he went about dealing with it the wrong way.
"They're our allies, Mr Worf. We have to trust them." Actual quote from the beginning of the episode.
Yeah and how did that work out for them?
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Old February 15 2013, 04:46 PM   #80
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Re: Section 31...

Sci wrote: View Post
Pavonis wrote: View Post
We both know that behind the scenes stuff isn't the same as onscreen material. Canonically, the connection between Harris and Sloane is extremely thin.
Oh, come off it. The characters on ENT might as well have turned to the camera and winked every time they called it "your Section."

Section 31 is not just Sloan, and it's been around for a long time. Deal with it.
I understand the direction that writers and producers have taken Section 31 now - that it can be blamed for pretty much every sinister action taken in the name of defending the UFP. It's a great way to put bad guys among the good guys without sullying the good guys.

But, looking at what was definitively established about "Section 31" in DS9, it could've easily have gone in a completely different direction. Section 31 could've been portrayed as a recently developed conspiracy of a small group of officers that justified their actions with the wording of Article 14, Section 31. There was no need for it to be a conspiracy across centuries.

What was established about Section 31? Only that Bashir was kidnapped by someone calling himself Sloan who threw our dear doctor into a holodeck simulation while trying to evaluate him, to determine whether he was a Dominion spy or Section 31 material, or possibly both. The only person wearing the leather duds of Section 31 that appeared outside the holodeck was Sloan.

After returning to DS9, Bashir told Sisko about his experience. Sisko asked Starfleet Command about this "Section 31", and received no definitive answer from them, no confirmation nor denial of their existence.

The next time we see Sloan, he's alone again, recruiting Bashir to diagnose a Romulan at a conference. Blah blah blah - we all know the episode.

Canonically, every time Section 31 pops up, only Sloan is there to act in its name. The only proof of Section 31's entire existence is Sloan. That's pretty thin evidence. Even reading Luther's mind isn't proof enough of a larger organization, since Sloan was able to fool Bashir and O'Brien into thinking they were in the real world for some time. I'm not certain that Sloan would be an open book even with a "mind probe" rummaging through his brain. Spock was able to defeat a Klingon "mind sifter"; am I to believe that only Spock could be so disciplined as to defeat mechanical mind-reading? And really, how much did Bashir "read" about Section 31 while in Sloan's mind? Anything Bashir found was put there by Sloan to distract the doctor from finding the cure to Odo's disease. Sloan could've and would've "thought" anything to keep Bashir distracted, including something like "Section 31 put a mole in the President's Cabinet". What proof of a mole in the Cabinet would there be, other than Sloan's claim? I submit that the claim of a mole in Section 31 would be only as strong as the similar claim that Section 31 had a member of the senior staff of DS9 among their members.

While there is an "Article 14, Section 31" in the Starfleet charter, what does it say? Probably something like some rules or regulations can be "bent" in times of emergency. I can see some people taking that to justify extreme actions in dangerous times, sure. But a sustained existence across centuries?

A perfectly justifiable alternative take on Section 31 could've had them as an Earth organization that was acting in Earth's "best interests" during the 22nd century, but one that disintegrated in the late 22nd century, only for the name to be borrowed by a new cabal of officers worried about the increasing number of threats to the Federation encountered in the 2360s and 2370s. They could take the name, and claim existence for 300 years, making them seem more mysterious and powerful (what with being "undetected" for over a hundred years because they didn't exist) than they really were.

I'm of the belief that Sloan was the only S31 operative, that he made it up, and that he "claimed" a larger organization by duping or blackmailing people to work for him the way he did with Bashir and Ross. It fits the canon facts just as well, while being far more plausible.
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Old February 15 2013, 06:21 PM   #81
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Re: Section 31...

Pavonis wrote: View Post
Sci wrote: View Post
Pavonis wrote: View Post
We both know that behind the scenes stuff isn't the same as onscreen material. Canonically, the connection between Harris and Sloane is extremely thin.
Oh, come off it. The characters on ENT might as well have turned to the camera and winked every time they called it "your Section."

Section 31 is not just Sloan, and it's been around for a long time. Deal with it.
I understand the direction that writers and producers have taken Section 31 now - that it can be blamed for pretty much every sinister action taken in the name of defending the UFP. It's a great way to put bad guys among the good guys without sullying the good guys.

But, looking at what was definitively established about "Section 31" in DS9, it could've easily have gone in a completely different direction. Section 31 could've been portrayed as a recently developed conspiracy of a small group of officers that justified their actions with the wording of Article 14, Section 31. There was no need for it to be a conspiracy across centuries.

What was established about Section 31? Only that Bashir was kidnapped by someone calling himself Sloan who threw our dear doctor into a holodeck simulation while trying to evaluate him, to determine whether he was a Dominion spy or Section 31 material, or possibly both. The only person wearing the leather duds of Section 31 that appeared outside the holodeck was Sloan.

After returning to DS9, Bashir told Sisko about his experience. Sisko asked Starfleet Command about this "Section 31", and received no definitive answer from them, no confirmation nor denial of their existence.

The next time we see Sloan, he's alone again, recruiting Bashir to diagnose a Romulan at a conference. Blah blah blah - we all know the episode.

Canonically, every time Section 31 pops up, only Sloan is there to act in its name. The only proof of Section 31's entire existence is Sloan. That's pretty thin evidence. Even reading Luther's mind isn't proof enough of a larger organization, since Sloan was able to fool Bashir and O'Brien into thinking they were in the real world for some time. I'm not certain that Sloan would be an open book even with a "mind probe" rummaging through his brain. Spock was able to defeat a Klingon "mind sifter"; am I to believe that only Spock could be so disciplined as to defeat mechanical mind-reading? And really, how much did Bashir "read" about Section 31 while in Sloan's mind? Anything Bashir found was put there by Sloan to distract the doctor from finding the cure to Odo's disease. Sloan could've and would've "thought" anything to keep Bashir distracted, including something like "Section 31 put a mole in the President's Cabinet". What proof of a mole in the Cabinet would there be, other than Sloan's claim? I submit that the claim of a mole in Section 31 would be only as strong as the similar claim that Section 31 had a member of the senior staff of DS9 among their members.

While there is an "Article 14, Section 31" in the Starfleet charter, what does it say? Probably something like some rules or regulations can be "bent" in times of emergency. I can see some people taking that to justify extreme actions in dangerous times, sure. But a sustained existence across centuries?

A perfectly justifiable alternative take on Section 31 could've had them as an Earth organization that was acting in Earth's "best interests" during the 22nd century, but one that disintegrated in the late 22nd century, only for the name to be borrowed by a new cabal of officers worried about the increasing number of threats to the Federation encountered in the 2360s and 2370s. They could take the name, and claim existence for 300 years, making them seem more mysterious and powerful (what with being "undetected" for over a hundred years because they didn't exist) than they really were.

I'm of the belief that Sloan was the only S31 operative, that he made it up, and that he "claimed" a larger organization by duping or blackmailing people to work for him the way he did with Bashir and Ross. It fits the canon facts just as well, while being far more plausible.

Section 31 was responsible for infecting Odo with the disease that nearly wiped out the Founders. Are you trying to say Sloan just happened to be hanging out on Earth during Homefront/Paradise Lost ins infected Odo himself? Admittedly, it's possible Sloan himself might have been the one who infected Odo, but if we follow your theory, one man who commits criminal acts in the belief he's defending the Federation seems to spend an unusual time fixated on a space station located outside the Federation, following its commanding officer and security officer, infecting the security officer with a genocidal disease, trying to recruit its medical officer, and blackmailing the flag officer that the station's captain reports to.

Of course, the one important fact is that all your theorizing means nothing if the rumours are true and Section 31 is featured in Into Darkness.
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Old February 15 2013, 06:31 PM   #82
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Re: Section 31...

The Wormhole wrote: View Post
... one man who commits criminal acts in the belief he's defending the Federation seems to spend an unusual time fixated on a space station located outside the Federation, following its commanding officer and security officer, infecting the security officer with a genocidal disease, trying to recruit its medical officer, and blackmailing the flag officer that the station's captain reports to....
One man acting at the focal point of conflict is far easier to believe than a criminal conspiracy spread throughout the Federation. Remember what Ben Franklin said -

Benjamin Franklin wrote:
Three can keep a secret, if two are dead.
How does one keep a cabal larger than three secret for centuries? It's not possible.

Besides, Sloan fixating on DS9 is no harder to believe nor any more uncommon than a nigh-omnipotent being fixating on the senior staff of a Galaxy-class ship until dropping them for the captain of an Intrepid-class ship a few years later. For some reason, the crews that get TV shows end up attracting villains; I can't imagine why....
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Old February 15 2013, 06:53 PM   #83
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Re: Section 31...

But Sloan's only real interest with DS9 was with Dr Bashir, why would he be tailing Sisko and Odo two years before he began pursuing Bashir?

How does one keep a cabal larger than three secret for centuries? It's not possible.
Really? You want to go there? FTL travel isn't possible, instant translation of a newly discovered alien language isn't possible, Star Trek is filled with things that aren't possible. That's why it's fiction.

But in the end, it comes down to intent. The intent on DS9 was that Section 31 was a 200 year-old organization, as was the intent on Enterprise. Maybe it doesn't fit your idea of "possible" but it is canon. By the definition of everyone who has the authority to say so.
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Old February 15 2013, 07:09 PM   #84
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Re: Section 31...

Sloan was interested in securing the safety of the Federation. Once it was discovered that the Dominion was lead by the Founders, Odo became an obvious target for Sloan. The only Founder that Sloan could get to was Odo. The best chance for infecting them was through Odo. Maybe the odds were long that Odo would ever pass it on to the Founders, but it was the best possible route.

And I don't recall Sloan ever caring or being interested in Sisko, just Odo and Bashir (once his genetic enhancement became "public" knowledge). Bashir would clearly be an incredibly useful asset for Sloan, which was demonstrated in the episode "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges". Despite the fact that Bashir was trying to work against Sloan the entire time, Sloan's plan came off without a hitch! If that doesn't demonstrate that Sloan doesn't need an entire organization of Section 31 operatives, I don't know what would! Sloan managed to make people do what he wanted and needed without them even wanting to help him. What need for other operatives, then?

But, hey, when it comes down to it, yeah, the writers took Section 31 in another direction. I'm just saying the canon would easily support an entirely different backstory for S31, one that would be far more plausible, and would prevent fans and writers from pinning all the sinister and sneaky stuff done in Trek on a shadowy organization that managed to keep itself secret for centuries.
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Old February 16 2013, 03:04 AM   #85
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Re: Section 31...

Pavonis wrote: View Post
Sloan was interested in securing the safety of the Federation. Once it was discovered that the Dominion was lead by the Founders, Odo became an obvious target for Sloan. The only Founder that Sloan could get to was Odo. The best chance for infecting them was through Odo. Maybe the odds were long that Odo would ever pass it on to the Founders, but it was the best possible route.

And I don't recall Sloan ever caring or being interested in Sisko, just Odo and Bashir (once his genetic enhancement became "public" knowledge). Bashir would clearly be an incredibly useful asset for Sloan, which was demonstrated in the episode "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges". Despite the fact that Bashir was trying to work against Sloan the entire time, Sloan's plan came off without a hitch! If that doesn't demonstrate that Sloan doesn't need an entire organization of Section 31 operatives, I don't know what would! Sloan managed to make people do what he wanted and needed without them even wanting to help him. What need for other operatives, then?
The Federation is big right? Sloan can't handle every operation, right?

But, hey, when it comes down to it, yeah, the writers took Section 31 in another direction. I'm just saying the canon would easily support an entirely different backstory for S31, one that would be far more plausible, and would prevent fans and writers from pinning all the sinister and sneaky stuff done in Trek on a shadowy organization that managed to keep itself secret for centuries.
That's the really sad thing about Trek Lit. They took this very interesting organization, which had its pros and cons, and just turned it into this strawman evil organization that's only rivaled by Mass Effect's Cerberus in stupidly evil actions.
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Old February 16 2013, 04:16 AM   #86
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Re: Section 31...

Pavonis wrote: View Post
Sloan was interested in securing the safety of the Federation.
So they say. I see no reason to take Section 31 at its word.

The very fact that S31 is not accountable to the Federation makes it impossible that they could possibly put the interests OF the Federation ahead of their own.
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Old February 16 2013, 09:07 AM   #87
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Re: Section 31...

bullethead wrote: View Post
That's the really sad thing about Trek Lit. They took this very interesting organization, which had its pros and cons, and just turned it into this strawman evil organization that's only rivaled by Mass Effect's Cerberus in stupidly evil actions.
There was never anything the least bit ambiguous about Section 31. They were quite unambiguously the bad guys from Day One in the canon, and Treklit just reflects that. (There is nothing "pro" about an organization that routinely appoints itself judge, jury, and executioner, and which engages in mass murder and genocide.)

You want moral ambiguity? Treklit's take on Starfleet Intelligence is very morally ambiguous.
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Old February 16 2013, 11:03 AM   #88
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Re: Section 31...

Mr. Laser Beam wrote: View Post
The very fact that S31 is not accountable to the Federation makes it impossible that they could possibly put the interests OF the Federation ahead of their own.
Impossible? S31 is a part of the Federation, it's agents (most of them anyway) are from among the Federation's population. Its aims were not simply for the benefit of the small number of people who composed S31, but for the Federation as a whole.

You might not like the tactic of biological warfare against the Dominion, preferring conventional methods, but the S31 plan of introducing the sickness into the Founder population is what ended the war in the time frame we saw.

Conventional warfare very well could have eventually ended the war in the Federation's favor, but the war would have been longer, and resulted in the Federation (and it's allies) experiencing more causalities and destruction.

Regardless of any "unaccountability," S31 saved lives. And yes they poisoned, and kidnapped, and lied, and who know at some point they might even have taken candy from a baby. I don't think anyone is going to claim that these are nice people. It isn't a case of putting the Federation ahead of themselves, they are a part of the Federation.

However, it would be fair to say that S31 put the Federation ahead of the Dominion.

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Old February 16 2013, 04:23 PM   #89
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Re: Section 31...

Sci wrote: View Post
bullethead wrote: View Post
That's the really sad thing about Trek Lit. They took this very interesting organization, which had its pros and cons, and just turned it into this strawman evil organization that's only rivaled by Mass Effect's Cerberus in stupidly evil actions.
There was never anything the least bit ambiguous about Section 31. They were quite unambiguously the bad guys from Day One in the canon, and Treklit just reflects that. (There is nothing "pro" about an organization that routinely appoints itself judge, jury, and executioner, and which engages in mass murder and genocide.)

You want moral ambiguity? Treklit's take on Starfleet Intelligence is very morally ambiguous.
I can think of plenty of pros and cons to Section 31's existence.

Pro
-No one knows or believes they exist, giving them all sorts of leeway to advance the Federation's best interests without dealing with the sometimes incompetent Federation leadership or negatively harming the Federation's reputation by being officially connected to the organization
-Small cells of individuals are able to undertake operations that have serious ramifications in interstellar politics with a minimum of collateral damage, leading to greater benefits in the long term
-Rigorous selection requirements ensure that individuals recruited into the organization are loyal to the Federation and principled enough to use the minimum force necessary

Con
-All agents are highly skilled and well trained, meaning that if one goes rogue, he or she might cause a lot of damage
-By the nature of their job, they have to engage in ethically questionable things that might violate some of the ideals of the Federation
-Are convenient scapegoats for all sorts of bad things the rest of the Federation because of their methods and pragmatism


When it comes down to it, I consider the guys who decided that genocide was the only way to decapitate the leadership of an empire with genocide and atrocity happy fascists to be the good guys because in the long run, they would've kept the other guys from killing even more people in their quest to bring "order" to the galaxy. Would it have been great if Section 31 hadn't needed to deploy the disease? Sure. But that only would've been possible had the Founders not been the massive dicks that they were.

I see no reason to arbitrarily label people who go with the most logical and pragmatic solution to a problem as evil. Nor do I see any logic in extrapolating that Section 31 is responsible for so much evil and retarded shit that TrekLit has conjured up just because they came up with a bioweapon to kill the 99% of the Changelings responsible for every evil thing the Dominion has done ever.
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Old February 16 2013, 10:01 PM   #90
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Re: Section 31...

bullethead wrote: View Post
Sci wrote: View Post
bullethead wrote: View Post
That's the really sad thing about Trek Lit. They took this very interesting organization, which had its pros and cons, and just turned it into this strawman evil organization that's only rivaled by Mass Effect's Cerberus in stupidly evil actions.
There was never anything the least bit ambiguous about Section 31. They were quite unambiguously the bad guys from Day One in the canon, and Treklit just reflects that. (There is nothing "pro" about an organization that routinely appoints itself judge, jury, and executioner, and which engages in mass murder and genocide.)

You want moral ambiguity? Treklit's take on Starfleet Intelligence is very morally ambiguous.
I can think of plenty of pros and cons to Section 31's existence.

Pro
-No one knows or believes they exist, giving them all sorts of leeway to advance the Federation's best interests without dealing with the sometimes incompetent Federation leadership or negatively harming the Federation's reputation by being officially connected to the organization
This is not a pro, this is a con. This means that they are putting themselves above the law and above the democratic control of the people. This by definition makes them a threat to democracy and to the public. Nobody should ever be above the law.

-Small cells of individuals are able to undertake operations that have serious ramifications in interstellar politics with a minimum of collateral damage,
This is how any espionage network operates and is in no way unique to Section 31.

-Rigorous selection requirements ensure that individuals recruited into the organization are loyal to the Federation and principled enough to use the minimum force necessary
Says who? Them? What possible reason do we have to trust that Section 31's real loyalty is to the Federation and not to themselves? Why should I buy that they're loyal to the UFP when they won't submit to Federation governmental control?

-All agents are highly skilled and well trained, meaning that if one goes rogue, he or she might cause a lot of damage
Section 31 agents are by definition already rogue, because they are not under the control of the legitimate government.

When it comes down to it, I consider the guys who decided that genocide was the only way to decapitate the leadership of an empire with genocide and atrocity happy fascists to be the good guys because in the long run, they would've kept the other guys from killing even more people in their quest to bring "order" to the galaxy.
Or they would have taken the only leash off the Jem'Hadar, loosing a vast horde of now-uncontrolled drug-addled rage monsters on the galaxy, killing vastly more people.

Look up the term "blowback."

Would it have been great if Section 31 hadn't needed to deploy the disease?
It didn't need to attempt genocide. The Dominion War was won by conventional military forces, and by Odo's decision to offer the Founders mercy rather than certain death at Section 31's hands. Section 31, by driving the Female Shapeshifter mad with grief, had in fact nearly caused a Pyrrhic victory at the Battle of Cardassia due to her irrational order that Dominion forces fight to the last soldier rather than surrender -- and Section 31's genocide attempt did cause millions of civilian as a result of the Shapeshifter's grief moving her to order the extermination of the Cardassian people.

I see no reason to arbitrarily label people who go with the most logical and pragmatic solution to a problem as evil.
Section 31's genocide attempt was not pragmatic, and logic is only as good as the premises it starts from. There's nothing arbitrary about labeling would-be Hitlers as evil.

ETA:

T'Girl wrote: View Post
Mr. Laser Beam wrote: View Post
The very fact that S31 is not accountable to the Federation makes it impossible that they could possibly put the interests OF the Federation ahead of their own.
Impossible? S31 is a part of the Federation, it's agents (most of them anyway) are from among the Federation's population.
So is the Mafia. This is meaningless.

Its aims were not simply for the benefit of the small number of people who composed S31, but for the Federation as a whole.
So they say.

You might not like the tactic of biological warfare against the Dominion,
The comparable term in real life is "crime against humanity."

preferring conventional methods, but the S31 plan of introducing the sickness into the Founder population is what ended the war in the time frame we saw.
No, Odo's decision to offer the cure was what prompted the Female Shapeshifter to rescind her order that every Jem'Hadar and Breen fight to the last soldier. And the war in general was won through conventional military forces.

Conventional warfare very well could have eventually ended the war in the Federation's favor, but the war would have been longer,
The war was already over due to conventional forces. The only question was whether or not the Female Shapeshifter would order a battle to the last soldier -- an order she gave only because of her grief at the impending extinction of her species.

Had Section 31's crimes against sentience never taken place, the ever-pragmatic Female Shapeshifter would have accepted that the Dominion had lost and no doubt surrendered in order to reduce Dominion losses -- to say nothing of she wouldn't have ordered the extermination of the Cardassian people.

Regardless of any "unaccountability,"
No, not "unaccountability." Unaccountability, full stop, no quotation marks. Defiance of the law. Criminality.

It isn't a case of putting the Federation ahead of themselves, they are a part of the Federation.
Complete horseraddish. No organization that refuses to submit to the democratically-elected government is actually putting the nation ahead of themselves; their defiance of the rule of law automatically means they are by definition putting themselves ahead of the Federation.
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