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Production no.: 542
Written by: Bradley Thompson & David Weddle
Directed by: Michael Dorn
Stardate: not given 
First satellite airdate: April 4, 1998
William Sadler .........
Jeffrey Combs ........
Samantha Mudd ......
Benjamin Brown .....
Judi Durand ............
Lt. Chandler
Lt. Kagan
Station Computer Voice

Bashir is up late in the infirmary, getting ready for a medical conference on Casperia Prime, for which he is leaving in the morning. Odo is reminding him to take sunscreen when O'Brien comes in, suffering from yet another dislocated shoulder, which he sustained kayaking in the holosuite. Bashir pops it back into place, admonishing him to stay away from the river for at least a few days.

When the computer wakes him in the morning, Bashir feels as tired as if he only just fell asleep, and he has an itch behind his right ear. He finishes packing, and says goodbye to Kukalaka on the shelf. Then all senior officers are called to Ops. Bashir goes, and finds it full of armed Starfleet security officers as well as the other DS9 senior staff. The station is being visited by Starfleet Internal Affairs. Sisko finally emerges from his office with a man whom he introduces as Deputy Director Sloan, who is here on the authority of the Federation Council. Starfleet Intelligence believes there's been a security breach on the station, and everyone is to give him their full cooperation. "It appears that someone has been passing information to the Dominion," Sloan says. Until they determine the source, the senior staff must be isolated and confined to quarters. Sloan will be interviewing all of them; they are not to discuss the matter among themselves. He has told Starfleet Medical that Bashir won't be attending the conference. Everyone is taken to their quarters.

Bashir orders breakfast (scones, jam, and tea) from his replicator, but it's not working. So he starts to unpack. A stylus falls to the floor and rolls under the couch. As he's about to retrieve it, the door chimes; it's a Starfleet security officer, Lt. Chandler, who is here to bring him to the wardroom so Sloan can ask him a few questions. Other security officers seem to be running drills in the corridors.

In the wardroom, Bashir is greeted by Sloan, who seems affable and relaxed, chatting casually about Bashir's time as a Dominion prisoner. He seems to admire the doctor for surviving it, and also mentions the impressive work Bashir did with the genetically enhanced patients. He then thanks Bashir for his cooperation, though Bashir will have to stay in his quarters until the interviews are finished. Bashir asks if someone can fix his replicator; Sloan tells him they were taken offline to prevent anyone from replicating communication devices or weapons. But he obligingly takes Bashir's breakfast order. As an afterthought, he asks if Starfleet Medical asked Bashir to work with the genetically enhanced patients, or if he volunteered; Bashir confirms the latter, and Sloan lets him go.

Back in his quarters, Bashir gets his breakfast (brought by another security officer, Lt. Kagan); however, instead of the scones, jam, and tea he ordered, it's gagh, intended for Worf. But this is the least of his worries. He suddenly notices that some things in the room are not the way he left them. Someone has been here, snooping through his quarters.

Then O'Brien calls covertly over the com-unit. Although the officers aren't supposed to talk to each other, he wanted to make sure Bashir was all right, and asks if Sloan has questioned him yet. When Bashir says it went fine, O'Brien says grimly, "Believe me, it's not fine." He was grilled by Sloan for over two hours, and every question was about Bashir. O'Brien warns him to watch his back. Then the communication is cut off. Chandler and Kagan appear to take Bashir to another session with Sloan.

Sloan says he wants Bashir to clarify some things, and starts questioning him more closely about his internment by the Dominion. He brings up the time when the Jem'Hadar put him in solitary confinement, asking if Bashir was alone during that time. "Let me think -- was I alone in solitary? Yes, I think I was," Bashir deadpans. No, he didn't meet with a Vorta, or a Changeling. "What you're telling me is that you spent seven days in complete isolation?" Sloan asks. Bashir corrects him; it was five days. But Sloan tells him Martok said he was gone for seven. Bashir says Martok must have lost count of the days. After all, Klingons don't adapt as well to incarceration as humans. "Especially when they're genetically engineered," Sloan agrees coldly, but won't explain what he means.

The questions turn to the matter of the escape from the camp. Sloan finds Bashir's account of the prisoners constructing a transmitter from the life-support system and using it to contact the runabout hard to believe, not to mention the fact that the Dominion left the runabout orbiting the camp unattended. He insinuates that the Dominion must have wanted Bashir to escape. "So that you could start working for them," Sloan accuses, and brings up the term "engramatic dissociation".

"The theory holds that if a person's mind is sufficiently disciplined, he'd be capable of compartmentalizing contradictory information, believing one thing while doing another. I think you possess that kind of mind. I think the Dominion saw that and decided to take advantage of it. I think they broke you and turned you to their cause, and then had you suppress the memory of what happened...What could be more perfect? There's no chance of you getting caught because you don't even realize you're working for them. When they want to debrief you, all they do is trigger your memory." Bashir insists that this is ridiculous, but Sloan seems convinced of it. He exhorts Bashir to tear down the walls inside his mind and dredge up anything about his mission and contacts. "There are no memories to dredge up," Bashir insists. "I'm not suffering from engramatic dissociation. I'm a loyal Starfleet officer, and will not answer any more questions unless I'm formally charged and can respond with the benefit of counsel."

The gloves come off. "I've had enough of your lies, Doctor," Sloan snarls. "You think you're smarter than the rest of us, don't you? You think you're smarter than the millions of brave men and women who put their lives on the line for the Federation. You want to do things the hard way? Fine. But I'm going to get the truth out of you. And when I'm done, I'm going to take whatever's left of you and I'm going to lock it away." He calls for the guards.

Bashir is led in manacles through the Promenade, watched by a curious crowd. Sisko steps up to Chandler, objecting to this public spectacle. Kira assures Bashir they'll get him out of this. Bashir is then ushered into Security, which is being manned by Starfleet guards, and to a holding cell. Kagan takes off the manacles, explaining with hatred in his eyes that he was with the 7th Fleet during the battle at the Tyra system, and lost a lot of friends. "I lost a lot of friends, too," says Bashir, and Chandler agrees. "I believe that, but yours were Jem'Hadar." They remove his combadge, and Bashir is obliged to step into the cell.

A little later, Sisko bullies his way past Chandler to see him. He tells Bashir that Odo has found out that Sloan had a son in Starfleet, a pilot who was killed by a Dominion patrol. Bashir speculates that Sloan thinks he supplied the information that helped them target his son's ship. Sloan agrees with this as he enters the room. But he doesn't see it as a conflict of interest; on the contrary, it gives him incentive to get to the truth. Sisko insists that as long as he's still in command here, he will see Bashir when he wants, and he will sit in on all future interrogation sessions to ensure that the doctor's rights are observed. Sloan backs off.

At the next session, with Sisko in attendance, Sloan brings up the matter of the incident at Bopak III, in which Bashir was captured with O'Brien by the Jem'Hadar. The fact that Bashir was more interested in curing the Jem'Hadar of their addiction than in escaping that situation gives Sloan more grist for his mill. Even though this happened before Bashir allegedly became a Dominion agent, to Sloan it shows the doctor's sympathy toward the Dominion. He moves the discussion on to the genetically enhanced patients (Jack and the rest), and the fact that Bashir convinced Starfleet Command to give them access to battle plans -- not to mention that Bashir then recommended surrender. Sloan gets Sisko to admit that he didn't agree with this. "Of course not," says Sloan. "No loyal Starfleet officer could."

Sisko insists that the case against Bashir is still circumstantial; Sloan makes the circular argument that this is because he's covered his tracks so well. He points out Bashir's "pattern of behavior", and the fact that he lied about his illegal genetic enhancement for years, to Sisko and everyone else. When Sisko says that Bashir did eventually tell the truth, Sloan asks Bashir why. Knowing how bad it makes him look, Bashir replies truthfully. No, he didn't confess in order to come clean with his captain, or because he felt guilty; he confessed because he was found out. "And if you hadn't been found out?" Sloan asks. "Would you have come forward and told your captain the truth? Ever?" "I don't know," Bashir answers with painful honesty.

Sloan has done his work well. "How can I defend myself to this man?" Bashir exclaims to Sisko later, as he's back in his cell. "Whatever I say to him, he either thinks I'm lying or repressing my memories." When Sisko asks if it's within the realm of medical possibility that Bashir actually is blocking out memories of being recruited by the Dominion, Bashir realizes that his captain is beginning to have his doubts, though Sisko says he doesn't believe Bashir is lying.

Later, Bashir is awakened in his cell by Sloan, Chandler, and Kagan, who are here to take him to Starbase 53 for further questioning. Sloan quotes a regulation that gives him the authority to neutralize security threats to DS9 "by whatever means necessary". "Doctor, you're about to spend the rest of this war in a maximum security cell. Unless you would care to put your thumbprint on this confession." Bashir glares at Sloan and at the PADD he's holding out. "You can take that confession and throw it out of the nearest airlock." After the forcefield is turned off, he is holding out his hands to be manacled when suddenly he is enveloped by a transporter beam. Bashir is startled to find himself aboard a Cardassian ship, looking straight at none other than Weyoun. "Welcome home," the Vorta smiles.

Bashir looks at him in shock and disbelief as Weyoun asks solicitously if he's been mistreated. He beamed Bashir out because Starfleet discovered he was working for them. Disoriented, Bashir insists he's not a Dominion spy, and that Weyoun is lying. Weyoun sighs. "Here we go again. These little conversations of ours always follow the same pattern. You start out confused. Then you get angry. Then you deny everything. Until finally the walls inside your mind start to break down, and you accept the truth." Bashir's faith in himself begins to crack as Weyoun tells him how they convinced him to provide them with information, so that the war could be ended quickly with as little loss of life as possible. "You rose above the petty question of whose side you were on and made a moral decision. It's not surprising, really. After all, you are a doctor."

"You're saying that I'm a traitor." "Traitor, hero -- those are just words," declares Weyoun. "Oh, your friends on Deep Space Nine may vilify you, but history will judge you to be a great man, a visionary who helped bring an end to one of the most devastating wars the galaxy has ever seen." Shaken, Bashir still doesn't remember this.

Weyoun begins the process of bringing his memories to the surface with a meal of scones, jam, and tea, which he says he first offered Bashir back at the camp. Bashir tries to remember this, but can't. "I'm not a Dominion spy!...I'm innocent. I don't care what you or Sloan think." Then he realizes something. "Wait a minute. Why would you both be trying to convince me of the same lie? Unless you're working together...Sloan is the traitor!"

Suddenly the ship comes under attack by the Defiant. Worf and Kira beam aboard; Bashir body-slams a Cardassian who is about to shoot them. They take Bashir aboard the Defiant, where Sisko faces him, his voice cold. "I suppose you have a reasonable explanation for why the Dominion broke you out of that holding cell." Bashir tells him of his suspicion that Sloan is working with Weyoun, but Sisko isn't having it. He accuses Bashir of trying to exonerate himself by casting suspicion on someone else. "I have had enough of your lies, Doctor." No one, in fact, seems to believe in Bashir's innocence any more -- not even Dax or O'Brien. As Bashir lays a hand on the Chief's shoulder, O'Brien wrenches it violently away.

"Your shoulder," Bashir realizes. "It's all right." "Of course it's all right," O'Brien retorts, as if he has no idea what Bashir is getting at. Bashir tests him by saying he dislocated it when they were playing springball yesterday. O'Brien seems to agree with this. But Bashir then reminds him of the truth, that he hurt it kayaking. "You're not Miles. And you're not Captain Sisko," he adds, looking at the captain. "He'd at least be willing to hear me out. This isn't real. It can't be." The bridge disappears. Bashir is now standing in a hologrid, with Sloan at the controls, flanked by two armed guards. "You're right, Doctor," Sloan says calmly. "None of it was real. But I am. And this isn't over."

Sloan then approaches Bashir, with a smile. "Congratulations, Doctor. It's not often that we're proven wrong." He confirms that he is leaning toward the belief that Bashir is not, after all, working for the Dominion. But there's one final test to make. A guard comes over to Bashir with an instrument; when Bashir won't let him near, Sloan tells him they just need to remove an implant from behind his right ear. He lets Bashir take it out himself. The implant is a neuro-synaptic relay, with which they have been recording his responses; now Sloan checks the findings and confirms his belief that Bashir is innocent. Of course, they had to subject him to high levels of stress to ensure accurate results, including not letting him get much sleep. He would have preferred observing him longer, but they didn't know about O'Brien's injury, so the fact that it wasn't incorporated into the program raised Bashir's suspicions prematurely.

Bashir asks who Sloan is and who he works for. "I'd think it's obvious," replies Sloan. "The same people you work for: the Federation, Starfleet." But he's not with Internal Affairs. Instead, he belongs to another branch of Starfleet Intelligence, designated Section 31. Bashir has never heard of it. "And what does Section 31 do, apart from kidnapping Starfleet officers?" "We search out and identify potential dangers to the Federation," replies Sloan. Once such dangers are identified, "we deal with them...quietly." Bashir has a hard time believing that Starfleet sanctions this sort of organization, or Sloan's statement that it was part of the original Starfleet charter. They are autonomous, and not accountable to any authority. "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," Sloan says. "People who can sublimate their ambitions to the best interests of the Federation. People like you."

Bashir is incredulous when Sloan tells him he has all the qualifications to become a member of Section 31. "A few minutes ago, you were calling me a traitor, and now you want to recruit me?" "You're intelligent, resourceful, you've always been fascinated by covert operations," Sloan tells him. "Why else would you spend so much time in Quark's holosuites playing spy?...We're on the same team. We believe in the same principles that every other Federation citizen holds dear." "And yet you violate those principles as a matter of course," Bashir points out. However, Sloan isn't bothered by this. Section 31 does what it does to protect those principles. "How many lives do you suppose you've saved in your medical career?...Hundreds, thousands? Do you suppose those people give a damn that you lied to get into 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."

Bashir holds firm to his conviction; Sloan is barking up the wrong tree, as far as he's concerned. Sloan, however, is confident that in time Bashir will come to agree with him. "All I ask is that when you get back to Deep Space Nine, you consider what I've said." As for the possibility of Bashir exposing him, Sloan isn't worried. He has one of his guards give Bashir a hypo in the neck.

Back at DS9, Bashir does tell Sisko, Kira, and Odo about his experience, and about Section 31. Sisko has asked the authorities about this organization. There is no record of a Deputy Director Sloan in Starfleet; and Starfleet Command won't confirm or deny the existence of Section 31. Odo points out that every other power has their own secret organization: the Tal Shiar, the Obsidian Order, and so on. "But what does that say about us?" Bashir exclaims. "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," Sisko says.

They could try to track down Sloan, but Odo notes that if Section 31 has existed since the beginning of the Federation, they know how to conceal themselves. "We don't have to find them," says Sisko. "They'll come to us. You said that Sloan tried to recruit you...He doesn't strike me as a man who takes no for an answer. And the next time he asks you to join his little group, you will say yes." Bashir gets his meaning. As they're about to leave, Odo looks at Bashir. "Congratulations, Doctor. Looks like you're going to get to play a spy after all. Only this time, for real."

  • Incongruously, this episode evolved from a lighthearted pitch about Bashir having to deal with a planet's bureaucracy after receiving a "parking ticket".
  • Sloan was named for a character in the film Shock Corridor. The producers considered Martin Sheen for the role.