23

DS9 "For The Uniform":

SISKO: Major, I want you to send the following message on all Maquis frequencies. To all the members of the Maquis resistance. This is Captain Sisko of the USS Defiant. In response to the Maquis's use of biogenic weapons in their recent attacks, I am about to take the following action. In exactly one hour, I will detonate two quantum torpedoes that will scatter trilithium resin in the atmosphere of Solosos Three. I thereby will make the planet uninhabitable to all human life for the next fifty years. I suggest evacuation plans begin immediately. What are you waiting for, people? Carry out your orders.

When Sisko makes this order he gets dissenting looks for everyone on the bridge and everyone freezes. That's why He yells at them "What are you waiting for people, carry out your orders."

(Later, orbiting Solosos Three.)

KIRA: Incoming message. It's Eddington.

EDDINGTON: (hologram) What are you really up to, Javert? Do you expect me to believe that a decorated Starfleet officer, the pride of the service, is going to poison an entire planet?

This is a very good question that Eddington asks Sisko. I've never heard of a Starfleet officer acting this way in an official matter.

SISKO: That's exactly what I'm going to do.

EDDINGTON: You're bluffing.

SISKO: Am I? Commander, launch torpedoes. Commander, I said launch torpedoes!

The reason he repeated himself is that Worf looked at Sisko like he was crazy and didn't fire them at first.

WORF: Aye, sir. (Two lights impact the atmosphere, and it starts turning yellow.)

KIRA: The trilithium resin is dissipating throughout the biosphere. The Maquis are scrambling their transport ships. They're starting to evacuate.

EDDINGTON: Do you realise what you've done?

SISKO: I've only just begun. I'm going to eliminate every Maquis colony in the DMZ.

EDDINGTON: You're talking about turning hundreds of thousands of people into homeless refugees.

Eddington frames the gravity of Sisko's actions and what Sisko plans to do. It would appear that if this is a viable option the Federation would have considered it.

SISKO: That's right. When you attacked the Malinche you proved one thing, that the Maquis have become an intolerable threat to the security of the Federation, and I am going intend to eliminate that threat.

Is that reason enough to take the action Sisko took.

EDDINGTON: But think about those people you saw in the caves, huddled and starving. They didn't attack the Malinche.

SISKO: You should have thought about that before you attacked a Federation starship. (Sisko turns his back on the Eddington hologram)

SISKO: Helm, lay in a course for Tracken Two, warp six. Commander, prepare two more torpedoes.

NOG: Engine Room, bridge. Warp six.

DAX: Set course zero five zero mark one seven nine.

WORF: Unlock safeties on torpedoes three and four.

EDDINGTON: Can't you see what's happening to you? You're going against everything you claim to believe in, and for what? To satisfy a personal vendetta?

SISKO: You betrayed your uniform!

EDDINGTON: And you're betraying yours right now! The sad part is, you don't even realise it. I feel sorry for you, Captain. This obsession with me, look what it's cost you.

This was clearly a personal vendetta. They weren't hunting the Maquis like this before or after. The Federation wouldn't shoot at human colonies destroying them or worse yet entire planets. Clearly that was unacceptable behavior or the Federation would have implemented that strategy from the get go and evacuated all the humans out of the Demilitarized zone and back to Federation space.

SISKO: Major, shut that thing off! Commander Worf, prepare to launch torpedoes!

EDDINGTON: Wait! If you call off your attack I'll turn over all our biogenic weapons.

SISKO: Not enough.

EDDINGTON: All right, Javert. I'll give you what you want. Me.

So it wasn't about the attacks or the Maquis, it was simply to bring Eddington back, who by the way committed no crime other then espionage to a non-enemy. It wasn't like Eddington was working for an enemy. Remember the Federation was not at war with the Maquis and the Maquis were not at war with the Federation.

DAX: Benjamin, I'm curious. Your plan to poison the Maquis planets. You didn't clear it with Starfleet first, did you.

SISKO: I knew I'd forgotten to do something.

DAX: Big gamble.

SISKO: That's what it takes to be a good villain.

Further he didn't clear it with Starfleet. And he was ordered earlier in the episode to not pursue Eddington, and was taken off the assignment.

Think about how hard it was for Picard to violate the prime directive to save people. He'd never do something so selfish. Even Worf who is a warrior and loves battle was shocked and at first hesitated to obey orders.

I've never heard of Starfleet firing at civilian targets. I've also never heard of Starfleet firing at a different target other than the one who has offended. This sort of strategy is something I would expect from the Romulans, Cardassians, Borg, Dominion, etc. not from Starfleet.

So my question is did Sisko's actions of firing at a planet inhabited by human colonists, for the purpose of making it uninhabitable, under the above scenario, violate Starfleet regulations or any Federation laws? If so is it a punishable offense. And if it is what was his punishment?

  • 1
    We know (at least from the TNG Insurrection movie) that (post-Roddenberry) Star Fleet/Federation are fully capable of turning a blind eye towards crimes (as long as they profit from it and have plausible deniability) - Sisko was probably banking on that. Or it might be that the constitutional idea that a crime against another criminal is still a crime has fallen out of favor (I've seen it happen, not just on SciFi TV shows). – Eike Pierstorff Jun 19 '15 at 5:34
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    @EikePierstorff maybe you're on to something. You think it's a post Roddenberry thing. Might be... I never considered that. Part of what made Picard, Kirk, Janeway, etc. great was the constant struggle to balance the prime directive, crossing the line, when to fight, when to help defenseless people, etc. The struggle in the characters is what makes Star Trek great. We all love Data, Odo, Spock, the Voyager Doctor, 7 of 9, even Quark, b/c of the struggle. Without the rules, regualtions, etc., once it becomes a free for all, Star Trek loses it's mission and it's coherence. – JMFB Jun 19 '15 at 5:42
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    @cde that's absolute blasphemy. Kirk would never do such a thing. Kirk who had every reason to hate Klingons was responsible for the Khitomer accords going through. Kirk would never jeopardize a people like that. This what not cowboy diplomacy. There was nothing diplomatic about it. It was cruel. – JMFB Jun 19 '15 at 5:45
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    Sisko didn't have a vendetta, he went to such measures because he couldn't have caught Eddington otherwise. He even says so in the episode. That to catch him, he needed to play into his idea that he's the hero and Sisko's the villain. Eddington was the one obsessed. – Petersaber Jun 19 '15 at 6:47
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    This is an excellent question, something that I had always wondered about. Reading your quotes made me realize something new - Sisko's actions never endangered any lives. The way it's described, it sounds like the "poison" was something that killed over the course of days, not minutes. Even when Eddington made his appeal, it was about making the inhabitants homeless refugees, not actively harming them. So even calling his action an "attack" is debatable, which is probably why he could get away with it. – MartianInvader Nov 10 '16 at 21:20
17

Here are some regulations which pertain to this situation:

  • Starfleet Charter Articles - Article 14, Section 31: The exact language has never been cited, but certain lines in this section permitted the use of "extraordinary measures" in times of dire emergency. (ENT: "Divergence")

  • General Order 24: An order to destroy all life on an entire planet. (TOS: "Whom Gods Destroy", "A Taste of Armageddon")

  • Special Order 66715: Federation order that stated: "[Starfleet has] the authority to neutralize security threats to Deep Space 9 by any means necessary". (DS9: "Inquisition")

(Source)

Now, between these three orders, it could possibly be construed that Sisko was acting within regulations. The use of biogenic weapons could be considered to be a dire emergency, and the Maquis having access to these could also be considered a threat to DS9 (considering its proximity to Bajor). The fact a general order exists to destroy all life on an entire planet also indicates that under certain circumstances it would be acceptable to destroy the life-sustaining properties of a planet. So, by extension, to make a planet toxic for a particular life form would also be acceptable under certain circumstances.

Another interesting (but non-canon) regulation I found:

  • Regulation 21, Section 6, Paragraph 4: "Federation security supersedes the rights and privileges of Federation citizens." (New Worlds, New Civilizations short story: "An Enigma Wrapped in a Puzzle")

(Source)

It could also be argued that any rights the Maquis had were superseded by Sisko's actions to remove threats to the Federation that the Maquis' weapon posed.

Another important order is below:

  • Starfleet Order 2: Starfleet regulation against the taking of intelligent life. (TAS: "One of Our Planets Is Missing")

Now, considering the Maquis had the capacity to evacuate a planet, by destroying the suitability of a planet for a certain life form Sisko possibly wouldn't be held responsible for this, as the Maquis could prevent this from occurring.

Hence, based on this research it would seem that Sisko could argue his way out of violating any regulations or laws that we know of; there are plenty of regulations we simply don't know about (see this Memory Alpha article; there's still lots we don't know about)

  • 5
    Well, they didn't destroy the life sustaining abilities of the planet. They just made it toxic to humans, for 50 years, a minor inconvenience. It was still good to go for other species (mainly the cardassians). The maquis weapon did the same. Poisoned it to Cardassians, fine for humans. Nothing affecting vegetable or animal life either. – user16696 Jun 19 '15 at 5:46
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    Fair enough and good post, but my question is whether he violated Starfleet regulations, not whether an excuse could be made to justify his actions. Aren't there treaties or laws against the Federation using chemical weapons? Is a Starfleet officer allowed to threaten and attack unrelated civilian targets to get a military one to stand down? I can't think of another example of this. Imagine Picard giving that order to Worf, ludicrous, right? I'll consider your answer though. +1 – JMFB Jun 19 '15 at 5:48
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    @JMFB; if Starfleet hadn't done something about the Maquis, it could have posed a very real threat against DS9 - the Cardassians wouldn't have been impressed! The emergency could have been avoiding a diplomatic nightmare with the Cardassians (although I'm not sure about this - I'm not 100% familiar with DS9 I admit) – Often Right Jun 19 '15 at 7:03
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    @JMFB - his justification seems to be that the Maquis attacked a Federation starship, which is something that they had never really done before. – Omegacron Jun 19 '15 at 14:23
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    @RoboBear That's a non-canon regulation. Of course, the Marqui were no longer Federation Citizens either – Chronocidal Oct 19 '18 at 14:15

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