Deep Space Nine introduced Section 31, and since that time every shit author with a Star Trek license has tried to use it in some way. Think of it as Star Trek's version of "Batman, but he kills people!" It's shown up in Enterprise, the comics...there was even a novel line about it explaining how not only did every Captain from every TV series meet and know about Section 31, but Kirk created a secret cabal that fought them for over a century! Man, fuck Section 31.
So here's the deal. When you watch the three episodes of Deep Space Nine with Section 31, it easily reads as just one incredibly talented guy, Luther Sloan, who fucked with Bashir a lot. My burden of proof for this is light indeed; whatever theory I put forwards merely has to be as credible DS9's Section 31, a secret organization that's been perfectly hidden for over 200 years.
Here is everything we know about "Section 31" from Sloan's appearances in DS9.
- Luther Sloan is a member.
- Other members of Section 31 are seen in "Inquisition"
- Sloan has access to a. Starfleet personnel and intelligence reports and b. a holodeck he can use for several days without interruption.
- Sloan manipulates Julian into doing things.
- Sloan had the cure for the Morphogenic Virus that was killing The Founders.
- Sloan has the ability to smuggle Julian Bashir onto and off of Deep Space Nine.
- Sloan was party to a plot that required the cooperation of a. one Starfleet Admiral and b. a high-ranking Romulan intelligence agent.
Item 2 is incredibly easy to dispel. During his first appearance in "Inquisition," Sloan creates two holographic guards within the holographic scenario he uses to capture Julian. That he is surrounded by different mooks when later monologuing in front of Bashir, literally still inside of a holodeck doesn't make those mooks real any more real than the first two.
Item 3a is slightly trickier. But then, Starfleet officers constantly break into computers when it suits them to do so. An individual who has exceptional talent and equivalent--or greater--training could do the same thing. More likely, Sloan uses basic social engineering to get access to these reports.
In "Statistical Probabilities," a group of civilians with serious social adjustment impairments gain access to Deep Space Nine during a war by dressing one of their members as an admiral. Sadly, this makes the "Section 31 has remain hidden for so long because Starfleet is stupid" theory more credible, but it also shows the ease with which common trust within The Federation--and Starfleet--can be abused for the ends of clever people.
And Sloan is an incredibly clever person. Even assuming that Sloan couldn't acquire or build his own state-of-the-art holodeck, Item 3b is shockingly unmysterious. A simple alternative to owning a holodeck is finding a public holodeck that allows Federation civilians to reserve blocks of time and then merely asks nicely, trades a few favors for a large block of time, hacks a computer to fill the schedule with dummy names, or...really just hangs a "Down for Maintenance Sign" outside the door.
All of these things are far more likely than a massive conspiracy that has remained completely undetected for two centuries. I mean, even The Freemasons put their junior high notebook doodles on the money.
Item 4 is self-evident. Sloan might have needed a psychological report and the knowledge to use it. If we accept Item 3a, this requires no additional people or resources.
Item 5 Starfleet is known for its rock star scientists. They've got big egos and big ideas. It's easy for him to hijack a research cell. Starfleet scientists are a strange, aggressive bunch and it would be no problem to convince them of this particular task--even if he didn't compartmentalize them and put the pieces together himself. That does stretch credibility, but so does any research effort which results in Sloan having the cure offhand.
Item 6: Who fucking can't? O'Brien got kidnapped. Those guys broke onto the station to take Dax...both times. Worf's room got broken into. Look, props to Odo, but DS9 is not a secure place.
Item 7 is so deep and intricate that I have to have a separate post. I'll post Section 31, Item 7 on Friday (don't worry; it's already written and queued).
*This doesn't make any fucking sense for a few reasons. Starfleet predates The Federation, so it's confusing how this Section could exist before The Federation. It also means that any authorization for Section 31 actions would have to be filtered through Starfleet. Fool a bloated, utopian bureaucracy? Okay. Fool motherfucking Starfleet? The entire organization would have be corrupt or incompetent from the top-down. It also means that Section 31 members would mostly be Starfleet personnel, again going against the grain of what it means to be Starfleet.
**If that's his real name.