- "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."
- - Luther Sloan to Julian Bashir
Luther Sloan was a 24th century Human operative of the clandestine intelligence agency Section 31. Although he and the rest of Section 31 claimed to operate independently of both the United Federation of Planets and Starfleet, performing actions most Federation citizens would abhor and otherwise consider morally questionable, he saw himself as doing what was necessary to protect their interests. In his eyes, to protect what the Federation had worked hard to build, the ends justified the means. So great was his dedication to protecting and preserving the Federation that he was willing to do almost anything, even cutting ties to his family and friends and violating the Prime Directive.
Sloan wanted to be a medical doctor in his youth, so he was glad to see his son enter Starfleet and accomplish the goal. Unfortunately, his son was killed by the Jem'Hadar during a Dominion raid on the Seventh Fleet. (DS9: "Inquisition")
Sloan once described himself as "a man of secrets", who had to live in a world of mystery and deceit once he joined Section 31. His wife Jessica and their children lived on Earth, but Sloan's clandestine missions meant he almost never saw them. This made the marriage "a living hell" for Jessica, but Luther was so dedicated to the preservation of the Federation that he saw it as a necessary sacrifice.
Despite his determination, Sloan's actions often weighed heavily on his conscience. He was unable to sleep at night, though he took comfort in knowing that citizens of the Federation were able to do so. Ultimately, he died wishing he could apologize for cheating his family out of being in his life -- and for cheating himself. Because he had spent his life erasing any trace of his actions, it was as if he had never existed. (DS9: "Extreme Measures")
Interest in Bashir
In 2374, Sloan attempted to recruit the genetically-engineered chief medical officer of Deep Space 9 into Section 31's ranks, staging an elaborate deception using a holodeck in an attempt to test Bashir's loyalties. In this scenario, Sloan posed as Deputy Director of Internal Affairs, claiming that there was a security leak aboard Deep Space 9. Accusing Bashir of having been recruited as a mole by the Dominion during Bashir's incarceration at Internment Camp 371, Sloan claimed to have a son who was killed by the Dominion, and that he believed that his son's death was a direct result of information supplied to the Dominion by Bashir. Bashir eventually realized that he was being deceived, and Sloan was forced to terminate the program. Despite this, Sloan expressed to Bashir that he had passed the test, and Sloan was no longer in doubt of Bashir's loyalty. Sloan subsequently offered him a position within Section 31, citing his genetically-engineered background and fascination with spy stories. Bashir ultimately declined the invitation, stating that he did not believe it was proper for an organization such as Section 31 to have such power, acting autonomously and free of any oversight. Detailing his experience with Sloan to Captain Sisko, Bashir expressed his surprise that Starfleet would have such a department. In an attempt to further investigate Sloan and Section 31, Sisko ordered Bashir to accept Sloan's invitation to join the next time Sloan made contact with him. (DS9: "Inquisition")
Sloan returned the next year to Deep Space 9 to give Bashir his first "assignment". Although Bashir had refused to join, Sloan claimed that he had been "accepted" into the organization and thus was needed to fulfill his "duties". Sloan goaded Bashir into joining the operation by appealing to Bashir's love of fictional spy dramas and intrigue, stating that he was a man of mystery made for the job he was about to assign him. He instructed him to perform observations of various members of the Romulan government during an upcoming Federation-Romulan conference on Romulus, and in particular Koval, the chairman of the Tal Shiar.
At the conference, Sloan posed as Wendell Greer, a representative from the Federation Department of Cartography. Through a complex series of events, Sloan convinced Bashir that he was planning to assassinate Chairman Koval. Sloan hoped that Bashir's sense of ethics would force him to try to alert the Romulans to Sloan's apparent threat. Bashir approached Senator Cretak, who agreed to break into Koval's personal database in an attempt to find evidence that would reveal Sloan's threat. Cretak was caught while trying to access the classified files and brought before the Continuing Committee, where she was censured for her improper and possibly treasonous behavior.
Ultimately, the entire operation was revealed to be a ruse aimed at getting Koval – a Section 31 mole – elevated to the Continuing Committee. In addition, Admiral William Ross was revealed to be involved in the operation, working alongside Sloan. At the end of the conference, Sloan thanked Bashir for his sense of ethics and for doing "the right thing", while at the same time pointing out that Section 31 existed precisely to protect people like Bashir. (DS9: "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges")
Morphogenic virus and the Dominion
Several months later, while investigating a cure for the morphogenic virus that had infected Odo along with all the Changelings in the Great Link, Bashir came to the conclusion that the disease had been engineered by Section 31 as a way to attack the Founders and end the threat of the Dominion. Bashir and his friend Miles O'Brien devised an elaborate scheme to lure Sloan to the station with the hopes of forcing him to reveal the cure to the disease. Bashir informed Starfleet Medical that he had devised a cure to the virus, knowing that Section 31 would send an operative to destroy that information in order to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Dominion. (DS9: "Tacking Into the Wind")
When Sloan boarded Deep Space 9, Bashir stunned him and attempted to use Romulan mind probes to extract the information regarding the cure from Sloan's mind. Ironically, Bashir and O'Brien, supported by Captain Benjamin Sisko, resorted to the same kind of morally questionable practices that they accused Sloan of. During the procedure, Sloan triggered a lethal implant in his brain, committing suicide to prevent Bashir from finding the cure to the morphogenic virus. Bashir managed to prolong Sloan's life, but the implant had scrambled the operative's neural pathways and brain death was inevitable within an hour. Desperate, Bashir and O'Brien used a neural interface to link their minds with Sloan's in a last-ditch attempt to discover the information. Sloan attempted to distract the intruders with images of his wife, Jessica, his family, and an alter ego who professed to want to reveal the information but somehow was prevented from doing so.
Sloan's alter ego thanked Bashir for having set him free like that, for having showed him that ideology is a poor substitute for kindness and decency. He was about to hand Bashir the solution to a cure for the disease when suddenly Sloan's other side emerged; the Section 31 operative and devoted Federation citizen. He shot the alter ego in an attempt to prevent the information from reaching Bashir and before they knew it, Bashir and O'Brien were finding themselves amidst the ethical battle that had ensued inside of Sloan's mind. After dragging them through a maze, Bashir was finally able to access the information he needed buried away inside a mental recreation of Sloan's office. But, Sloan had one last trap planned for Bashir: with the secret of the cure revealed, Sloan offered to share with Bashir all of his secrets – enough information to bring down Section 31 entirely. This was the one thing Sloan knew Bashir could not resist, and the doctor was nearly trapped in Sloan's mind as their time grew short. Fortunately, O'Brien convinced him to leave in time. Although the secret of the cure to the morphogenic virus had been revealed, Sloan took the rest of his secrets about Section 31 to the grave with him. (DS9: "Extreme Measures")
Much about the man known as Sloan remains unknown, and what is known is shrouded in mystery. If one looks closely, one might discover hints of his real life. For example, while testing Bashir on the holodeck in their first encounter, Sloan claimed that his son, whose name was never revealed, had been in the Seventh Fleet and was killed in a surprise Jem'Hadar attack. In the simulation, this was indicated to be why Sloan thought Bashir was a Dominion spy; while the mention of Sloan's son may have been a ruse to make the simulation even more believable, it may have been based on Sloan's personal life. If the story was true, it may have influenced Sloan's decision to interrogate Bashir in the first place. This would also have given Sloan a personal motive to ensure that the morphogenic virus eliminated the Founders.
Similarly, Koval's story about how Sloan came to work for Section 31 may not be entirely false. In Koval's version of events, after using the mind probe on Sloan, he discovered that Sloan had been the protege of Admiral Fujisaki, whose death was officially attributed to food poisoning. Sloan allegedly became convinced that the Tal Shiar murdered Fujisaki, and he created Section 31 as a means by which he could exact revenge. The true nature of the relationship Sloan had with Fujisaki (if any) is unknown, but the idea of Sloan creating Section 31, which has been shown to have existed in the 22nd Century is obviously false.
The factual basis for information revealed while Bashir and O'Brien were inside Sloan's mind is also unclear. It is likely that Sloan, who was dying at the time, simply used elements of his own life to stall for time; it is plausible that he never had a wife or the other family ties he described. Among the things that may or may not be true is Sloan's claim that he once considered becoming a doctor.
Sloan and Section 31 epitomize Deep Space 9's vision of a more realistic universe in which "paradise" has started to crumble and where the Federation struggles to maintain its high ideals amid difficult situations. Section 31, along with its morally questionable actions, is one of the elements that have made DS9 highly controversial among Star Trek fans; the other being the introduction of the Maquis and Sisko's infamous speech to major Kira about how easy it is to be "a saint in paradise". (DS9: "The Maquis, Part II") As Ira Steven Behr said: "We need to dig deeper and find out what, indeed, life is like in the twenty-fourth century. Is it this paradise, or are there, as Harold Pinter said, "Weasels under the coffee table." Sisko's speech in this episode - ("The Maquis, Part II") - was the beginning of our really starting to question some of the basic tenets of Star Trek philosophy." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion). The introduction of a somewhat darker and less optimistic side to the Trek universe culminated in the creation of Section 31.
While Sloan appeared to bear the rank of a Fleet Captain while posing as an officer with Starfleet Internal Affairs, it is possible that he truly did hold this rank. Furthermore, Section 31 may have existed under the umbrella of Internal Affairs, at least, unofficially, especially since Dr. Bashir had concluded that the virus was introduced to Odo by Section 31 when Odo was on Earth, at Starfleet Headquarters.
"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 Starfleet Medical [about being genetically enhanced]? 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."
- - Sloan and Bashir
"The Federation needs men like you, doctor. Men of conscience. Men of principle. Men who can sleep at night... You're also the reason Section Thirty-One exists -- someone has to protect men like you from a universe that doesn't share your sense of right and wrong."
"As I stand here, reunited with my friends and my family for one last time, I want you, the people I love, to know how sorry I am for all the pain that I've caused you. I've dedicated my life to the preservation and protection of the Federation. This duty, which I carried out to the best of my ability, took precedence over everything else: my parents, my wife, my children. I lived in a world of secrets, of sabotage and deceit. I spent so much time, erasing my movements, covering my tracks, that now as I look back on my life, I find nothing. It's as if I never really existed. I cheated you all out of being in my life, and what's more, I cheated myself as well. Now I know a simple apology won't change that. Still, I feel the need to apologize anyway. No tears, please. My death isn't a tragedy. It's a celebration. In death I can finally step out of the shadows, and prove to myself that I existed, that I lived."
Sloan appears briefly at the end of the The Lost Era novel "Catalyst of Sorrows". The novel is set in 2360, although it does not say if he is a member of Section 31 at that point. Sloan also appears in "Hollow Men", and makes a brief appearance at the beginning of the Star Trek: Voyager Section 31 novel Shadow.
His mirror universe counterpart is depicted as a member of the Terran Rebellion on Template:MU fighting under Miles "Smiley" O'Brien against the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance in the novels The Soul Key and Rise Like Lions.
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