Section 31...

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by 2 of 10, Oct 21, 2008.

  1. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  2. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    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 -

    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....
     
  3. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

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    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?

    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.
     
  4. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    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.
     
  5. bullethead

    bullethead Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The Federation is big right? Sloan can't handle every operation, right?

    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.
     
  6. Ríu ríu chíu

    Ríu ríu chíu Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  7. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  8. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.

    :)
     
  9. bullethead

    bullethead Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.
     
  10. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    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.

    This is how any espionage network operates and is in no way unique to Section 31.

    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?

    Section 31 agents are by definition already rogue, because they are not under the control of the legitimate government.

    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."

    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.

    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:

    So is the Mafia. This is meaningless.

    So they say.

    The comparable term in real life is "crime against humanity."

    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.

    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.

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

    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.
     
  11. Edit_XYZ

    Edit_XYZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    An army of crazed killing machines bent of revenge is far LESS dangerous - both tactically and strategically - than an army of disciplined killing machines, obeying a long-term strategic vision which includes numerous genocides/conquest/genetic slavery/etc, etc.

    The former is a pack of locusts - destructive, but transitory.
    The latter is a meat grinding machine which will cause death and suffering for millenia - with impunity.

    The law is not always equal to morality; or the actions that save the most lives/freedoms.
     
  12. Ríu ríu chíu

    Ríu ríu chíu Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    When the law is followed, there are checks and balances put in place. The possibility of abuse of power is minimized (if not eliminated) when there is absolute law, and accountability, and oversight. Remove those things, and you are left with Section 31, which literally does whatever it wants, when it wants. That is extremely dangerous.

    And just because an action that is illegal might save more lives than one which is legal, doesn't make it right. You can't reduce democracy to a numbers game.
     
  13. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    The law is not a sufficient condition for institutional morality, but it is a necessary condition for institutional morality. An institution that acts outside the law and outside of the authority of the democratically-elected government -- and therefore outside of the authority of the people -- is inherently corrupt and cannot help but to be so.
     
  14. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It does make it right. That scenario makes the illegal act the correct one, and the legal act the incorrect one.

    Laws exist to serve the needs of the society, and to protect that society. Society should not be expected to experience damage, because of laws.

    However, if upholding the law takes priority over saving the greater number of lives, preventing destruction of even more property, and possibly ending freedom in general, then by all means place legalities first.

    :)
     
  15. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    By that logic, a nation that seeks to ensure that none of their citizens will ever die as a result of foreign aggression by committing genocide against all foreign nation is doing the "correct" thing.

    No, more. They exist to create society. A society without laws is like a house without a roof.

    It should if it is a society dedicated to a higher ideal than mere survival.

    Except that by defying the concept of rule of law, Section 31 is by definition a threat to freedom, to saving lives, and to preventing destruction. These things cannot exist without the rule of law; Section 31 places itself above the rule of law and therefore threatens them.

    Also, side note:

    There is no evidence whatsoever that any Section 31 operations have ever enhanced Federation (or, before the UFP, United Earth) security. By contrast, the two largest Section 31 operations canonically established (the Founder virus and the abduction of Phlox to aid in formulating a cure to the Klingon Augment virus) demonstrably eroded U.E. and UFP security (the former, by prompting the Female Shapeshifter to order a Phyrric victory for the Allies at the Battle of Cardassia and the extermination of the Cardassian species; the latter, by almost leading to the destruction of Enterprise NX-01 and Columbia NX-02 by Klingon treachery).
     
  16. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'm not quite sure what the discussion is about. It's obvious that Section 31 was supposed to exist as stated, complete with awesome powers.

    The story logic gives credit for victory in the Dominion War to Section 31 even while some scenes also suggests that Odo and Sisko's "sacrifice" were responsible for victory. Similarly the story logic and the oft-repeated theme about saints in paradise determined that Section 31's methods were a necessity (possibly tragic,) while some scenes showed a few of the more idealistic characters held that they were excesses that should be stopped...after this particular mission, of course.

    There isn't sufficient detail, despite all those hours of episodes, to decide the issues associated wtih Section 31 by objective (in-universe, at least) facts. This is intentional, I'd say, a way of dodging the issue. You can present your characters as people who don't think their villains and give them their say. Neither the show nor the viewers are required to accept their rationalizations, only their humanity in clinging to them. That is, if you accept that their is such a thing as objective truth, which quite a few don't.

    Since there's nothing really valid to say about the issue in the series' terms, we can only compare things to the real world. Some people believe that empire is good, that the natural state of humanity is war and therefore that Section 31 is fundamentally a good. (Again, possibly tragic according to the sentimentality of their personal tastes.)

    My take is that empire is not a good, much less a necessity. Nor do I accept that the human condition is war.

    Further, the absurd powers attributed to Section 31 falsely equate acceptance of both these reactionary propositions with a choice between life and death. One of the prime functions of civilization is to give us collectively the power to live without internecine violence. In the real world, the contributions of intelligence agencies is highly debatable. And the contribution of covert ops (which is what Section 31 really does,) is entirely negative. Covert ops are war, and war is no longer a necessity, but a crime.
     
  17. EnterpriseClass

    EnterpriseClass Ensign Red Shirt

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    All you section 31 supporters do realize that the justification you are using to support them is the same one the changelings used to found the dominion?

    They believe, in the interest of their security, that they are justified in doing whatever it takes to safeguard themselves. It does not matter who they have to kill or how many races they have to genocide. As long as the end result is their safety and security then it is the right thing to do.

    Sound familiar? The dominion believes what it is doing is the right thing to safeguard themselves. Just like section 31. Are you 31 supporters sure you're not dominion agents?;)
     
  18. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I'm not going to dig through the whole thread...but that 'OMGGENOCIDE thing' is just moralistic claptrap. Let's say Starfleet discovered the location of the New Founder planet while at the same time developing an advanced cloak. Am I to believe that Starfleet should surround the planet with a fleet and then demand the Founders surrender?

    And are the Feds so naive/lacking in Intelligence as to not know that the Founders have no problem with genocide and are more than willing to do so to win this war that they have very nearly won more than once? And it's not like there are civilan Founders. Deciding to kill the Founders should easily carry more moral weight than bombing a city. Or blowing up a garrison.

    The point of war is to win. Especially a war as uncomplicated as the one against The Founders. And all this angst over wiping them out is moral bedwetting. It really only makes sense if there ARE civilan/innocent Founders. And for the sake of this argument we will assume there arn't since we never heard a thing about "Oh, you know...many of my people did not want war with the Alpha Quadrant."
     
  19. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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  20. EnterpriseClass

    EnterpriseClass Ensign Red Shirt

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    Dale Sams, you are using the same justification the founders use to protect themselves from the 'evil' solids. To them there is no such thing as a 'civilian' solid. They see all solids as having the potential to hurt them just as you are saying all changelings have the potential to hurt solids.

    Can't you see that what you are saying makes you just as bad as them? Genocide is evil and wrong when the founders do it, but its the right thing to do if humans do. Because we're the 'good guys' so anything we do is 'right'. After all we are just protecting ourselves, not like those evil founders.