"Captain's Personal Log, Stardate 51247.5. It's been a week since our return to Deep Space 9, but the mood of celebration continues. We're still at war and the station's been designated Headquarters for the Ninth Fleet. That, plus our strategic position guarding the wormhole, makes DS9 one of the most tempting targets in the entire quadrant. But for now at least, the war seems very far away."
"Captain's Personal Log: Stardate 5-1-7... [unsure] 5-1-7... 4? Computer – what day is it?" "[COMPUTER VOICE] Stardate 51721.3." "It's only been two weeks... I need to talk about this. I have to justify what's happened... what I've done... at least to myself. I can't talk to anyone else... not even to Dax. Maybe if I just lay it all out in my log, it'll finally make sense... I can see where it all went wrong... where I went wrong... I suppose it started two weeks ago while I was posting the weekly casualty list in the wardroom... every Friday morning, for the past three months, I've posted the official list of Starfleet personnel killed, wounded or missing in the war. It's become something of a grim ritual around here. Not a week goes by that someone doesn't find the name of a loved one, a friend or an acquaintance on that damned list... I've grown to hate Fridays."
"That was the moment I made the decision. It was like I had stepped through a door and locked it behind me. I was going to bring the Romulans into the war."
"My father used to say that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. I laid the first stone right there. I'd committed myself. I'd pay any price, go to any lengths, because my cause was righteous. My... intentions were good. In the beginning, that seemed like enough."
"If there's one thing I've learned over the years, it's that bad news invariably comes in the middle of the night."
"Maybe I should have put a stop to it right there. Maybe I should have said, "Thank you very much for your input, Mister Garak, I will take your suggestion under advisement," and then gone back to my office and forgotten the whole thing. But I didn't. Because in my heart, I knew what he was saying made sense."
"Why I didn't listen to the voice in the back of my mind telling me not to believe a word he said, I'll never know... But it didn't take long for me to come face to face with the fact that I'd made a mistake."
"That was my first moment of real doubt, when I started to wonder if the whole thing was a mistake. So I went back to my office. And there was a new casualty list waiting for me. People are dying out there every day! Entire worlds are struggling for their freedom! And here I am still worrying about the finer points of morality! No, I had to keep my eye on the ball! Winning the war, stopping the bloodshed, those were the priorities! So I pushed on. And every time another doubt appeared before me, I just found another way to shove it aside."
"Maybe... I was under more pressure than I realized. Maybe it really was starting to get to me, but I was off the hook. Starfleet Command had given the plan their blessing and I thought that would make things easier. But I was the one who had to make it happen. I was the one who had to look Senator Vreenak in the eye and convince him that a lie... was the truth."
"So all I could do was wait... and see how masterful Tolar's forgery really was. So I waited... tried to catch up on my paperwork, but I find it very difficult to focus on criminal activity reports, cargo manifests... So I went back to pacing, staring out of the window. I'm not an impatient man, I'm not one to agonize over decisions once they're made. I got that from my father. He always says, "Worry and doubt are the greatest enemies of a great chef. The soufflé will either rise or it won't – there's not a damn thing you can do about it, so you might as well just sit back and wait and see what happens." But this time the cost of failure was so high, I found it difficult to take his advice. If Vreenak discovered that the data rod was a forgery, if he realized that we were trying to trick them into the war it could push the Romulans even farther into the enemy camp. They could start to openly help the Dominion. If worst came to worst they could actually join the war against us. I had the distinct feeling that victory or defeat would be decided in the next few minutes."
"So it all blew up in my face. All the lies and the compromises, the inner doubts and the rationalizations – all for nothing. Vreenak was furious. I can't say I blamed him; I'd have reacted the same way. After telling me in no uncertain terms that he intended to expose this "vile deception" to the entire Alpha Quadrant, he got back in his shuttle and headed home. There didn't seem to be anything more to do... so I went back to work. Two days later we got the news."
"At oh-eight-hundred hours, station time... the Romulan Empire formally declared war against the Dominion. They've already struck fifteen bases along the Cardassian border. So, this is a huge victory for the good guys! This may even be the turning point of the entire war! There's even a "Welcome to the Fight" party tonight in the wardroom!... So... I lied. I cheated. I bribed men to cover up the crimes of other men. I am an accessory to murder. But most damning of all... I think I can live with it... And if I had to do it all over again... I would. Garak was right about one thing – a guilty conscience is a small price to pay for the safety of the Alpha Quadrant. So I will learn to live with it...Because I can live with it...I can live with it. Computer – erase that entire personal log."