The Andorians have a reputation as the Federation's black sheep. They don't always agree with Federation policies, but officially support them as members. This does not preclude them from taking their own shadowy actions when it suits their interests. Rumors claim an Andorian security force named the Am Tal manipulates the intelligence scene in a similar covert manner as Starfleet Intelligence's mysterious Section 31 (also obscured behind contemporary legend).
The Andorians supposedly created the Am Tal long before the founding of the Federation, and fought hard to keep the security force active, independent, and shrouded in secrecy. Although the Andorians value their alliance with the Federation and the protection offered by Starfleet, they do not like leaving their security entirely in the hands of others. The Am Tal apparently exists to protect Andorian interests, no matter what the cost.
The Am Tal has the same basic goals as Starfleet Intelligence: gathering information about potential external threats and eliminating any internal threats. Where Starfleet relies on high tech solutions and subtle spy networks, the Andorians have always preferred a heavy-handed approach. The Am Tal is rumored not to have any of SI's reservations about taking illegal actions as long as they are in the best interest of the Andorians and the Federation. They are thought to commit theft, sabotage, and even murder if they deem such acts necessary.
The Am Tal's cavalier attitude toward killing and "black ops" is diametrically opposed to Starfleet Intelligence's own moral and legal code - one reason the intelligence community cites against the Am Tal's existence. Occasionally some piece of information is passed along to Starfleet Intelligence through unknown channels, data which is usually both valuable and reliable. While such information could be traced to Andorian sources, there is no conclusive evidence a secret espionage organization such as the Am Tal really exists.
The Am Tal's purported reputation for assassination, torture and sabotage sometimes gives Starfleet Intelligence a trail to follow in mysterious occurences within the intelligence community. In one instance, the Am Tal was suspected of assassinating a low-level Romulan diplomat suspected as a Tal Shiar operative, though he was more valuable to SI alive and under surveillance. SI operatives suspected the Romulan possessed evidence incriminating a prominent Andorian diplomat in Orion Syndicate dealings. In the second instance a Klingon officer was discovered tortured to death in an alley on Andor. Klingon representatives were placated with evidence which mysteriously appeared implicating Obsidian Order agents of the crime.
The Andorian government denies the Am TAl or any other shadow intelligence agency exists within its borders. Even if SI found proof the Am Tal existed and was undertaking criminal intelligence operations, it might hesitate to complain to the Federation Council lest an irreparable rift separate a longtime member world. Occasional Starfleet Intelligence inquiries produce little evidence of Am Tal operations. The organization is infamous for covering up its illegal activities: suspected enemy agents seem to just disappear or have rather timely accidents, and some clues leading investigators away from Andorian involvement might be planted. Since the Am Tal supposedly operates within Andorian space, SI personnel often find their activities limited through bureaucratic apathy and convenient accidents which cover up or invalidate possible evidence.
Due to its covert nature, the Am Tal would engage in very few operations outside Andorian space. Starfleet Intelligence believes any secret Andorian espionage agency could not establish permanent networks within any hostile power's space. SI thinks several isolated and unexplained incidents might have been caused by a rogue agent team from a shadow agency: recovery of a criminal guilty of heinous crimes against Andoria, acquisition of particularly useful enemy technology, and rescue of prominent Andorian citizens held against their will.
Starfleet Intelligence thinks large-scale undercover operations are beyond the scope of the Am Tal since Andorians are extremely proud of their characteristic antennae. Surgical alteration for deep cover missions would be difficult and humiliating for Andorians, a disorienting and uncomfortable process. This is one of the more popular arguments against the existence of any mysterious Andorian security organization.
Any shadow intelligence agency would also run an extensive analysis bureau. The Am Tal is rumored to pay good money to informants, independent contractors and freelance espionage agents to keep abreast of galactic events, both public and secret. The Am Tal supposedly works with sources like the Ferengi and even the Orion Crime Syndicate. As long as the information these unsavory characters provides proves accurate, the Am Tal gladly pays premium prices. The consequences could be deadly should a paid informant decide to knowingly sell the Andorians false information. More than one Ferengi businessman or Orion snitch has suddenly developed a mysterious illness or suffered an accidental and terribly painful death, though no connections could be made to the Andorians.
Of course, these are all rumors as far as the Federation is concerned. The most disturbing story centers around Am Tal efforts to buy intelligence about current Starfleet Intelligence operations and spy networks. While there is currently no proof any covert Andorian espionage agency is spying on the Federation, SI views it as a very credible possibility. The Andorians deny all such inferences.
- Long, Steve, and Rick Dakan. The First Line: Starfleet Intelligence Handbook. New York: Last Unicorn Games, 1998.