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An officer from the Starfleet Department of Internal Affairs arrives on the station and accuses Dr. Bashir of being a Dominion spy.



"Oh, let me guess. You dislocated your shoulder."

Doctor Bashir is preparing to attend a medical conference at Casperia Prime as Odo teases him about the fact that such conferences are always held at sunny beachside resorts. As they talk, Chief O'Brien enters the Infirmary, having dislocated his shoulder kayaking in the holosuite yet again. Bashir fixes O'Brien's arm but warns him not to go kayaking for a while and that his shoulder will be tender for the next few days.

The next day, the computer awakens Bashir at 0700 hours. He is extremely tired to the point where he has the computer confirm the time. Dragging himself out of bed, he packs to leave the station and bids farewell to his beloved toy bear Kukalaka only to have Captain Sisko's voice come over the intercom, telling all senior officers to report to Ops. Heading there with the intention of going straight to his transport after the briefing, Bashir finds that Deputy Director Sloan has arrived from Department of Internal Affairs with a contingent of officers from Starfleet Security and is discussing something grim with Sisko. When Sloan and Sisko emerge from the Captain's office, they announce that Internal Affairs believes that there has been a major security breach on DS9 and a member of the senior staff has been covertly passing information along to the Dominion. Sloan will conduct an investigation, but for now the senior staff are relieved of duty and confined to quarters and Bashir is dismayed to find Sloan has already cancelled his appearance at the medical conference.

Act One

Luther Sloan, from Internal Affairs

Now in his quarters, Bashir orders breakfast from the replicator, but finds it out of order. The door chime rings, and one of Sloan's officers, a Lieutenant Chandler, informs Bashir that Sloan wants to ask him some questions. However, things do not seem right as she escorts him to the wardroom; a pair of officers carrying phaser rifles run past them in the corridor, but Bashir is told not to worry about it.

Sloan comes across as surprisingly charming when he meets with Bashir, casually asking about Bashir's experiences with the Dominion. They go over Bashir's imprisonment and his work with a group of genetically enhanced Humans, among other things. Before long, Sloan dismisses Bashir after questioning him for a short time and promises to get the doctor his breakfast, as the replicators were taken offline as a security precaution.

Later, Bashir is finally served his breakfast but finds he has been served gagh which was apparently meant for Worf. Examing his quarters, Bashir begins to suspect that someone has been there since he left as Kukalaka is now on his side but had been stood upright that morning, and a PADD that Bashir had packed but since removed is now back in the bag. He then receives a message from O'Brien, who says Sloan grilled the chief for over two hours – and every question he asked was about Bashir, making it clear Sloan suspects him of being the traitor. Once the transmission cuts out, one of Sloan's deputies enters and escorts him back to the wardroom.

Act Two

After arriving, Sloan asks if Doctor Bashir received his breakfast. Bashir, guessing that he was intentionally denied any food, lies that he did. Sloan immediately wants to clarify his notes since his last meeting. Immediately, Sloan's tone of voice has changed from a nice, easy going tone in the last meeting to one that is more stern. He questions Bashir about the fact he was isolated from the other prisoners while at Internment Camp 371 for a number of days, with Sloan claiming that General Martok believes Bashir was gone for seven days instead of the five that the doctor believes. He also questions the relative ease of his escape, how his runabout was left in orbit of the prison and their cell was filled with everything he needed to construct a transmitter to get himself beamed to it.

In Sloan's version of events, the Dominion "broke" the doctor during his time in prison and allowed him to escape. The allegation is that Bashir was coerced into spying for the Dominion but his memories are repressed; as such, even if Bashir is spying, he hypothetically would not know it, a process known as engramatic dissociation. When Sloan realizes he will not get anywhere with an interrogation, he has the guards escort Bashir – in irons – across the Promenade for all to see.

Act Three

Bashir is detained in a holding cell

Later, Sisko visits Bashir in his holding cell telling him that Odo has discovered that Sloan had a son in Starfleet who was killed when his ship was destroyed by a Jem'Hadar patrol. Sloan then enters and admits that he believes Bashir supplied them the information that allowed the Dominion to target his son. When Sloan initally refuses to allow Sisko to talk to Bashir alone, Sisko uses his authority as commanding officer of Deep Space 9 and demands to be allowed to see Bashir when he likes and to sit in on all interrogations from now on to make sure his rights are not breached. Sloan is forced to agree, and Sisko promises Bashir to get him out of this.

In the next interrogation, Sloan brings up when Bashir worked with a group of Jem'Hadar in an attempt to free them from their need of Ketracel-white. Sisko argues that his happened before Bashir allegedly became a Dominion spy, but Sloan asserts that this proves Bashir was already sympathetic to them. He then brings up that, while working with the genetically-enhanced Humans, Bashir gave them access to classified information and then recommended that Starfleet surrender to the Dominion. Bashir insists that he and the group were just trying to save lives, but Sloan doesn't accept this argument. Captain Sisko is forced to state he also didn't agree with the findings and admits that Bashir has made some very poor judgement calls recently but argues that doesn't mean he's a traitor and that all the evidence Sloan has is circumstantial. Sloan then questions Sisko's loyalty towards his officer, reminding him that Bashir only came forward about his genetic enhancements because he was found out. Had he not been, Bashir admits that he doesn't know if he would ever have come forward with the truth.

After the interrogation, Bashir apologizes to Sisko for not telling the truth about his genetic enhancements. Sisko decides to put that issue behind them for the moment, and tells Bashir that while he doesn't think he's lying asks him to consider the possibility he was broken in the Interment Camp, became a Dominion agent and repressed the memory. Bashir insists that, while such a procedure is a medical possibility, he is certain that it didn't happen. Captain Sisko tells Bashir to sleep and they'll talk later.

In the night, Sloan visits Bashir to tell him he has an order from Starfleet Command allowing him to "neutralize threats" to security, and he plans to put Bashir in a maximum-security prison until the war is over unless Bashir is willing to sign a full confession. Bashir tells Sloan where he can stick the confession and is about to allow himself to be removed when he is suddenly transported off the station by a Dominion-style transporter beam.

Bashir now finds himself aboard a Cardassian warship, where Weyoun welcomes his operative 'home'.

Act Four

According to the Vorta, Bashir has gone through the same debriefing process a number of times, and the fact that the doctor does not believe his story does not surprise him. Weyoun does everything he can to insist that Bashir is indeed their operative, claiming to have met him at the Internment Camp and convincing him to become their operative but Bashir refuses to accept that he would ever betray the Federation to the Dominion. Weyoun insists the memories were repressed and offers Bashir the scones and tea he tried to get from the replicator earlier to try and convince him. Rather than believing himself to be a spy, Bashir realizes Weyoun is trying to convince him the same way Sloan did and comes to believe Sloan is in fact the traitor. His conversation with Weyoun is interrupted as the ship comes under attack. Weyoun leaves for the bridge, and a few seconds later Major Kira and Commander Worf beam aboard and dispose of the guards before returning to the USS Defiant with Bashir.

Now that the Dominion beamed Bashir out of his cell onto their ship, everyone believes Bashir is a spy, and he cannot really explain himself as the evidence is all stacked against him. He tells Captain Sisko his theory about Sloan being the real spy and in league with Weyoun, but obviously this just makes Bashir sound desperate to divert everyone's suspicion of him. Captain Sisko orders him removed, and when Bashir turns to O'Brien for support, the chief shoves him away with the shoulder he injured... but without pain, showing no signs of his earlier dislocation. Bashir suspects something is amiss and tests O'Brien by claiming he'd injured his shoulder playing springball. When O'Brien goes along with this, Bashir realizes that nothing that has happened was real.

Suddenly, the Defiant's bridge disappears and Bashir finds himself in a holodeck. He is surrounded by three men in black uniforms, one of whom is none other than Sloan.

Act Five

Sloan motions for one of his lackeys to remove an implant from behind Bashir's right ear but the doctor reacts defensively. Therefore, Sloan gives Bashir the honor of removing the implant. The recording from the implant show that without a doubt, Bashir has unquestionable loyalty to the Federation. Sloan also comments that had they known about O'Brien's injury beforehand, then they would've incorporated it into the program. Bashir then deduces that he was beamed off of DS9 in his sleep so that no one would notice his absence. Sloan admits that they only allowed him an hour's sleep, in order to raise his stress levels.

Tired of games, Bashir demands to know who Sloan works for. Sloan confirms he is not part of Internal Affairs, rather he is part of a covert organization known as Section 31, which he claims was part of the original Starfleet Charter but answers to no one. And they are charged with covertly dealing with threats to the Federation – by any means necessary. Bashir asks what would happen if he was actually proven to be a Dominion spy. Sloan answers that they wouldn't be having this conversation now. Bashir voices his disapproval of Section 31's autonomy and blatant disregard for the founding principles of the Federation. Sloan tries to recruit the doctor into the organization, citing how Bashir likes to play spy in Quark's holosuites and his genetic modifications that were overlooked to continue his medical career. Bashir tries refusing, threatening to expose Section 31 but Sloan isn't threatened and promises that Bashir will eventually come around his way of thinking. The Section 31 agents then sedate him.

When he returns to DS9, it is clear to everyone that Bashir's abduction was timed for when he was to go to the medical conference so his absence wouldn't be noticed. Kira reports to Sisko that there were no traceable transporter signatures in Bashir's quarters, meaning that Section 31 must've gotten him off the station another way or may be in use of transporter technology that they cannot detect. Bashir asks Sisko if Starfleet has come up with anything. Sisko states that that there is no record of anyone called Director Sloan or of Section 31, but Sisko's investigation with Starfleet Headquarters on the matter turns up some odd results. Sisko receives neither confirmation nor denial of Section 31's existence, only promises to look into the matter. However, they didn't say when they'd report back, implying a conspiracy. Bashir comments his surprise that Starfleet would sanction this type of black ops activity. Odo points out that Section 31 is comparable to the Romulans' Tal'Shiar or the Cardassian's Obsidian Order. Bashir refutes that point, asking if they would sacrifice their own principles. Sisko has no answer for that. Kira suggests that they try and track down Sloan themselves but Odo reminds everyone that if Section 31 has existed since the birth of the Federation, then they've learned to cover their tracks effectively. Whatever the true nature of Section 31 may be, Sisko says they don't have to go looking for them: Section 31 will come to them. Next time they meet, Sisko wants Bashir to accept membership to bring the organization down from the inside. Odo muses that Bashir will finally be able to play spy, but this time for real.

Memorable quotes

"You promised me that you wouldn't go kayaking again until your shoulder had a chance to heal."
"I know, but I can't stay away. It's like the river calls to me."
"That's right. It's saying, "Stay away. Don't come near me or I'll hurt you more!""

- Bashir and O'Brien about his dislocated shoulder

"Hot buttered scones, moba jam and some red-leaf tea. …please."

- Bashir attempting to get breakfast from an offline replicator

"Ugh. It's a little early for gagh. I hope you enjoy my scones, Worf."

- Bashir is given the wrong breakfast

"You always re-integrate better on a full stomach. Do you remember when I first offered you scones, back at the camp?"

- Weyoun and Bashir

"We'll get you out of this, Julian."
"I'm sure it's all a mistake." (Quark whispers to Kira) "Isn't it?"

- Kira and Quark

"I won't deny that Doctor Bashir has made some … questionable decisions in his career, but that's a long way from convincing me he's a traitor. Now so far, your case is based on circumstantial evidence and speculation."
"What other kind of case can I make against a man who covers his tracks so well?"
"That's a circular argument and you know it!"

- Sisko and Sloan

"Congratulations, Doctor, it's not often that we're proven wrong."
"I take it you finally believe I'm not working for the Dominion."
"I'm leaning heavily in that direction but to erase any lingering doubts, what do you say we make one final test?"
"I've finished playing games with you, Sloan!"
"I can assure you, Doctor, this is no game."

- Sloan and Bashir

"And what does Section 31 do – apart from kidnapping Starfleet officers?"
"We search out and identify potential dangers to the Federation."
"And once identified?"
"We deal with them."

- Bashir and Sloan

"Isn't it? Because if what you say to me is true, you function as judge, jury, and executioner, and I think that's too much power for anyone."
"I admit it takes exceptional people to do what we do – people who can sublimate their ambitions to the best interests of the Federation. People like you."

- Bashir and Sloan

"No, I'm sorry. But the ends don't always justify the means."

- Bashir

"How many lives do you suppose you've saved in your medical career?"
"What has that got to do with anything?"
"Hundreds? Thousands? Do you suppose those people give a damn that you lied to get in Starfleet Medical? I doubt it. We deal with threats to the Federation that jeopardize its very survival. If you knew how many lives we've saved, I think you'd agree that the ends do justify the means. I'm not afraid of bending the rules every once in a while if the situation warrants it. And I don't think you are either. In time you will agree with me."

- Sloan and Bashir

"I can't believe the Federation condones this kind of activity."
"Personally, I find it hard to believe they wouldn't. Every other great power has a unit like Section 31. The Romulans have the Tal Shiar, the Cardassians had the Obsidian Order"
"But what does that say about us? When push comes to shove, are we willing to sacrifice our principles in order to survive?"
"I wish I had an answer for you, Doctor."

- Bashir, Odo, and Sisko

"Well, congratulations, Doctor. Looks like you're going to get to play a spy after all… only this time, for real."

- Odo, after Sisko tells Bashir to join Section 31 the next time he's asked

Background information

Story and script

  • This episode began life as a comic show about bureaucracy and paperwork, or, as Bradley Thompson puts it, "dealing with the Department of Motor Vehicles on a Sunday. Bashir went to a planet to do something really nice, like saving the lives of everyone on the whole planet. He parked his runabout in orbit, and when he finished doing this wonderful thing, he found out that he had been towed and he had a parking ticket! So he had to go up against the bureaucracy. It was the ultimate genetically engineered Human against the ultimate bureaucratic red tape." Thompson and David Weddle had the idea to do the show as a humorous version of the 1925 Franz Kafka novel The Trial, but when they pitched it to Ira Steven Behr, he immediately reformulated it into an episode involving a covert organization within Starfleet who decide Bashir is a Dominion spy and interrogate him by means of an elaborate holodeck program. As Thompson says "it stopped being a romp and became a nightmare." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (pp. 551-552))
  • This episode marks the first appearance of Luther Sloan (William Sadler) on the series. It also introduces Section 31 to Star Trek. The idea for Section 31 was Ira Steven Behr's and was the culmination of his attempts to look into the darker aspects of the utopia created by Gene Roddenberry, to look under the surface of the idyllic Federation to see if everything was really as perfect as it appeared to be. He began this examination in the episode "The Maquis, Part II", with the line "It's easy to be a saint in paradise," and his investigation continued in episodes like "The Jem'Hadar" (where Quark points out that Humans are far from perfect), "Past Tense, Part I"/"Past Tense, Part II" (where the hell that Humanity went through to get to Roddenberry's utopia is examined), "Homefront"/"Paradise Lost" (where those who protect paradise are shown as fanatical enough as to be willing to destroy it for its own 'safety'), "For the Cause" (where Michael Eddington compares the Federation to the Borg) and "Doctor Bashir, I Presume" (where a less than successful 24th century Human from Earth is introduced). Section 31 was the culmination of this process of examination, a covert organization within Starfleet who could be said to be the "weasels under the coffee table" to which Behr referred in relation to "The Maquis, Part II". As Behr explains, "Why is Earth a paradise in the twenty-fourth century? Well, maybe it's because there's someone watching over it and doing the nasty stuff that no one wants to talk about." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. 551)) The very idea that such an organization as Section 31 could exist within Starfleet would have been completely alien to Gene Roddenberry's original vision, and as such, Section 31 represents one of Deep Space Nine's most controversial ideas, provoking debate among many fans of both The Original Series and The Next Generation.
  • Sloan was named after the Peter Breck character in the 1963 Samuel Fuller film Shock Corridor. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. 552))
  • The first draft of this episode's script was submitted on 5 January 1998.


Director Michael Dorn (in makeup as Worf) strikes a pose on the set of "Inquisition"


  • Michael Dorn commented "The show was very Kafka-esque. Sid did some wonderful acting and I thought Bill [Sadler] just did a fantastic job, too. He was a dream to work with, just a dream. He's a really good actor, so I couldn't go wrong". ("Dorn's Direction", Star Trek Monthly, issue 39)
  • Rene Echevarria commented "We put something entirely new into the mix, the idea of Section 31. We are eager to follow it up. Michael Dorn did a terrific job directing it. Sid I thought was just spot on. The guest star, Bill Sadler was just perfection. I think it was one of the most successful episodes." (Cinefantastique, Volume 30 Number 9\10)


  • Sloan refers to the events of several previous episodes as evidence of Bashir's treachery:
  • It is also revealed that Bashir's captivity (and replacement by a changeling) lasted for five weeks or, more specifically, 37 days.
  • Since every other character in this episode is a hologram, and focusing to anything other than Bashir would give the illusion away, Inquisition is one of the few shows that lack any B-story. This technique has been followed in other "illusory" shows with plot twists, such as "Whispers".
  • Sloan is wearing a special rank insignia; 4 pips with an underline. It has been suggested that Sloan might have held the Starfleet rank of fleet captain (citation needededit), and was merely introduced as "Deputy Director of Internal Affairs" and addressed as "Director Sloan".
  • As Dr. Bashir says, this isn't the first time Chief O'Brien has dislocated his shoulder while kayaking; he's done it twice before, in TNG: "Transfigurations" and DS9: "Shakaar".
  • The medical conference to which Bashir is heading is on Casperia Prime, the same planet where Jadzia Dax wanted her honeymoon in the episode "Change of Heart".
  • When Bashir and Sloan meet in the first face-to-face meeting, Sloan apologizes for canceling Bashir's trip to the medical conference, but implies that it may a blessing in disguise:
    Sloan: The last time you tried to attend a medical conference, you were taken prisoner by the Dominion.
    Bashir: An experience I wouldn't care to repeat.
    Sloan: I'm sure you wouldn't.
    The irony of this is that, at the end of the episode it is revealed that Bashir was again kidnapped under the context of attending a medical conference.
  • At the end of this episode, when discussing that Section 31 is similar to the Romulan Tal Shiar and the Cardassian Obsidian Order, Bashir asks Sisko, "But what would that say about us? That we're no different than our enemies? That when push comes to shove, we're willing to throw away our principles in order to survive?", to which Sisko replies, "I wish I had an answer for you." In the very next episode, Sisko would be forced to ask himself this same question, and he would also get his answer.
  • Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) does not appear in this episode.
  • Section 31 later appeared in Star Trek: Enterprise, Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek: Discovery, in addition to the several tie-in novels released in the years since this episode aired.
  • Lt. Kagan tells Bashir that he was with the Seventh Fleet in the Tyra system when 98 ships were destroyed, a reference to "A Time to Stand".
  • Bashir appears to "flip the bird" to Sloan as he leaves ops after the initial meeting. This happens after Sloan tells Bashir that Starfleet medical already knows he won't be there, at about the 4:35 mark on the episode. Due to the lack of any official acknowledgement, it appears that this was not expected or noticed during filming, though it seems intentional.

Video and DVD releases

Links and references


Also starring

Guest stars

Special guest star


Uncredited co-stars


22nd century; ability; addiction; Bandee; barbarian; bedside manner; Bopak III; Cardassians; Cardassian ship; career; Casperia Prime; Changeling; chum; confined to quarters; conflict of interest; conversation; cough; debriefing; Deep Space 9 levels; Defiant, USS; Department of Internal Affairs; deputy director; dislocation; Dominion; Dominion attack ship (unnamed); Dominion War; engramatic dissociation; executioner; Excelsior-class; famished; Federation; Federation Council; framing; gagh; great power; handcuffs; holosuite; Internment Camp 371; interrogation; Jem'Hadar; Joint dislocation; judge; jury; kayaking; "Keep the home fires burning"; Klingon Bird-of-Prey (unnamed); Kukalaka; lung; Moba jam; Martok; medical conference; medical license; memory; Milky Way Galaxy; neuro-synaptic relay; Obsidian Order; operative; Promenade; raktajino; red leaf tea; Risa; Romulans; runabout; scone; Section 31; senior officer; sense of humor; Seventh Fleet; shoulder; Sloan's son; Special Order 66715; springball; Starbase 53; Starfleet General Orders; Starfleet Medical; stomach; sunscreen; surrender; Tal Shiar; Tellarites; thumbprint; traitor; tricorder; Tyra system; ultrasonic extractor; visionary; Vorta

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
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