Because I’ve been invited to come and get a tour of the Embassy.
Considering the email notes at the end that it’s “unclassified” I figure I can share it with you guys…
Thank you for your letter of September 20 to Ambassador Adelman and to the American Citizens Services Section at the US Embassy regarding the experience you had in attempting to photograph the exterior of the US Embassy building in Singapore recently. We very much regret the discourteous treatment you received, particularly as there were no signs indicating that photographing the exterior of the Embassy is prohibited. You make some very good points regarding what is available on Google (or Google Earth for that matter), but the prohibition against photographing US Embassy compounds is a worldwide policy that we are required to follow.
As you are probably aware, this policy is an outgrowth of the 1998 bombings of our Embassies in Nairobi Kenya and Dar es Salaam Tanzania, as well as attempted attacks on a number of our diplomatic facilities in the Middle East. We have significantly tightened security at all of our Embassy facilities worldwide, an unfortunate consequence of the world we now live in. (Our Embassy Security Officer will be writing to you separately to explain a bit more about our security procedures.)
While we work behind heavy walls, we still try to be good citizens. In Singapore we have a very proactive, engaged diplomatic team as we support US foreign policy and commercial interests in Singapore and the wider ASEAN region. Our Embassy officers speak at local secondary schools and universities; we have an Embassy social responsibility group that gets involved in local events including fundraising races, Ramadan-on-Wheels programs, and local environmental awareness and clean-up campaigns. We also try to engage with the wider American community through a range of social events and programs sponsored by the American Chamber of Commerce, the American Women’s Association, and the American Association of Singapore.
While you had an unfortunate experience outside the Embassy I’d like to invite you inside for a tour of the Embassy and a short briefing on what the US Embassy does here in Singapore. Please let me know if you will be available for a visit.
(By the way, I used to live in both Cambridge and Arlington, Massachusetts and I worked on Ed Markey’s first campaign for Congress. I miss that area now, especially as we move into fall.)
I hope to hear from you soon and hope you will accept this offer to come visit us inside the Embassy.
– Louis Mazel
Deputy Chief of Mission
American Embassy Singapore
This email is UNCLASSIFIED.
I still feel that a sign saying No Photography Please would solve a lot of their problems. I’m going exercise my right to critique my own government and say that perhaps it’s an outdated policy given current technology as opposed to when the policy was put in place in 1998 following some bombing in August and Google wasn’t invented until September of 1998 (with the IPO in 2004), much less Google Earth, which dates to 2005. Perhaps tourists taking pictures isn’t such a big deal and the policy might be worth eliminating or altering when it comes to Embassies in friendly nations?