31 December 2013

U.S. Citizen denied access to a U.S. Embassy

This afternoon, after I picked up my visa for Lao, I decided to visit the American embassy. After visiting many countries on five continents, I've never even seen a U.S. Embassy. Since I had no pressing engagements, I took a cab from the Lao (their name for their country) embassy.

To apply for a Lao visa, I walked past an iron gate and directly into the visa office of the embassy. There was an additional US$5 fee for same-day instead of three-day service, which I gladly paid. I then returned mid-afternoon, walked past the police "guard" and through the iron gate a second time. No one ever challenged me or tried to stop me and I did not expect them to.

Immediately upon arrival at the U.S. Embassy on Lang Ha Street, I was approached by one of the three Vietnamese security guards I could see. He asked what I wanted, so I showed him my passport and said that I would like to enter my embassy. When he asked if I had an appointment, I told him I did not. He then brusquely informed me that I had to leave. I countered with the "my taxes helped build and sustain this embassy and as an American citizen I have a right to enter 'my' embassy. I don't want a tour, I want to look in the lobby."

As I was talking, part of my brain was saying, "you ain't gettin' within 20 feet of that door!" and it was right.

The guard told me to stay where I was and then walked to the door. I could not see the door, but could tell it opened as he approached (those inside were watching and probably listening, though I didn't see any security cameras or NSA satellites). A Vietnamese national in a suit came out and told me that without a specific purpose for being there, I must leave. I got about four words into the "US Taxpayer" approach and was shut down. At that point, my missing common sense made a brief appearance, so I thanked him and left. So did my common sense.

I pulled out my camera, turned an snapped a quick photo.

The head security guard (they are always the ones in the white shirt) just about crapped his pants as he screamed and waved his arms. Sorry, Charlie, I already got my shot. 

Note: Here you can see the security guard I spoke to waving at me to stop. The other one went off right after this. I stopped when the told me to stop. No one ever said don't publish...

As I hot-footed it across the very busy street, he stopped screaming. Of course, John being John, I took a couple more photos from across the street and from the cab.

Bottom line, American citizens bearing a U.S. passport may neither enter nor photograph an American embassy. Wow! 

Some reading this may say that, especially after Bengazi, we have to be very cautious. Okay, I accept that. BUT... I'm a fucking citizen who pays too much in tax because over 70% of the corporations pay none. My government uses a LOT of that tax money to bomb the shit out of any oil-producing nation who looks cross-eyed at us unless they have nukes or (e.g. Saudi Arabia) are in bed with the Bush Crime Family.

What if we built schools, hospitals, and infrastructure instead? Then the royal we could actually feel free. Nawwwwww... the politicians' corporate masters would never allow it. Too little profit.

As a consequence, you NEVER see an American flag patch on a backpack or sleeve anymore overseas and most savvy travelers who are U.S. citizens keep their passport in a wallet or pouch so it can not easily be identified. I even hold it with the front cover hidden as I'm waiting at immigration everywhere.

It's very sad...

Though now, if I suddenly disappear into Guantanimo or another black hole, you'll know why... 

Well, one of the reasons ;-)

1 comment:

  1. US embassy will assist you if you lost your passport. They will also assist to have your remains returned to USA should you die in country. That's about it!