Section 31

In the Star Trek fictional universe, Section 31 is the name of an unofficial intelligence and defense organization. It is presented as a special security operation, manned by United Federation of Planets citizens, that is not subject to the normal constraints of Starfleet ethical protocols. The organization appears, or is mentioned, across eight episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.


Within Star Trek, Section 31 exists outside Starfleet Intelligence's influence and deals with threats to Earth's and, later, the Federation's security. Its operating authority stems from a provision of the Starfleet charter — Article 14, Section 31, from which its name is derived — that makes allowances for "bending the rules" during times of extraordinary threats.

Section 31 is comparable to other secret police organizations in the Star Trek universe, such as the Romulan Tal Shiar and the Cardassian Obsidian Order. Unlike those organizations, Section 31 does not exist to enforce government policy or punish traitors, but rather to defend against external threats. Also, unlike the Tal Shiar and Obsidian Order, both of whom are greatly feared within their populaces, most people in the Star Trek universe have never heard of Section 31 and will never encounter it.

Little of Section 31's history has been revealed on-screen. Since the concept of Section 31 was created for the Deep Space Nine episode Inquisition, most references to the organization appear in episodes of Deep Space Nine, although Section 31 also appears in Star Trek: Enterprise. Several works of Star Trek spin-off fiction expands on Section 31's operations; Pocket Books published a four-part series profiling connections between Section 31's operations and the missions of James T. Kirk, Jean-Luc Picard, and the crews of Deep Space Nine and the USS Voyager. These novels explicitly link Section 31 to Fleet Admiral Cartwright's actions in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and Vice Admiral Matthew Dougherty's actions in Star Trek: Insurrection. Section 31 is also heavily featured in the Star Trek: Enterprise novel The Good That Men Do, in which Trip Tucker joins the organization after his supposed "death".

Controversial topics

The implications of Section 31 have been described as "troubling" and its goals and methods "deeply questionable". Its methods include brainwashing, torture, and, as revealed by the end of the Deep Space Nine TV series, genocide, the crime that is most opposed by the Federation. The genocide involves the creation, by Section 31, of a disease designed to kill a single species, the Founders, with the aim of destroying the Dominion.


Throughout the series, several Deep Space Nine officers, including Captain Sisko, infiltrate Section 31, aiming to obtain from it a cure for the disease in order to save the life of Odo, but themselves collude in hiding the crime. This is part of a pattern of overall loss of moral credibility by Starfleet, in comparison to that which it had in the original series and The Next Generation. The Deep Space Nine series and the film Star Trek: Insurrection both "position the Starfleet authorities in a very dubious light".

Section 31 agents include the following characters:


Star Trek: Enterprise
Although produced later, these episodes come chronologically before the above Deep Space Nine episodes.


External links

Further reading

  • Jeffrey T. Richelson (2003). "The IPCRESS File: The Great Game in Film and Fiction, 1953–2002". International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence 16 (3): 462–498.

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