In Star Trek: Insurrection, the crew of the Enterprise discover a cloaked Federation transport or dropship that had been hidden on a planet. From a story perspective, of course, this hints that there is something very wrong with the mission as it had been explained to Picard et al., but the origin of the cloaking device itself doesn't seem to get much attention.
The film Insurrection takes place between two episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. In that series, the acquisition and use of a cloaking device on the USS Defiant is a big deal, as cloaking technology had been forbidden to the Federation under the terms of the Treaty of Algeron.
How did Admiral Dougherty obtain the cloaking device that he was using as part of his plan? I can think of a few plausible possibilities:
- The cloaking device was a highly secretive Federation design, possibly from the same source as the phase cloak that was (disastrously) tested on the USS Pegasus.
- The cloaking device was one that Starfleet had previously captured, such as the one that Kirk brought back on the HMS Bounty.
- The cloaking device was provided by the Son'a as part of their deal with Dougherty.
Has this ever been explained or explored in any medium?
In response to a comment by Valorum, I am aware that cloaking technology is not extremely arcane or difficult and that the primary limiting factor to developing and deploying cloaking tech in Starfleet is legal and/or political, not technological or scientific. The question, then, is how Dougherty bypassed Starfleet's internal checks and balances against violating the Treaty of Algernon. Did he get the same sort of deal with the Romulans that Sisko did (cloaking device in exchange for shared intel)? Did he get the cloak from Section 31? Did he build it himself in a dark cave on the far side of a remote colony world? Did he fish the Bounty's cloak out of San Francisco Bay? Did he buy it from Ferengi secondhand dealers in stolen Klingon ship parts?