So why is photography banned outside the Pentagon Metro Station in DC?

Carlos Miller

A Photography is Not a Crime reader sent the above picture which was taken outside the Pentagon Metro Station in WA.

The reader states the following:

On one hand, I understand that this station is the Pentagon Station – leading hundreds of works into the Pentagon and I can understand why they would want to restrict photography and surveillance.
On the other hand, Metro policy says that photography is only restricted in places people can’t go (paraphrasing) like tunnels and service entrances. this sign was in the subway, in the area just outside the turn-styles – and is contradictory to the photography policy.

Upon further research, I came across a Flickr thread more than a year old that discussed this topic in-depth.

According to Bert Krages’ handy document The Photographer’s Right, photography can be restricted in military installations to “protect national security.”

So the question is, am I somehow being a threat to national security by posting the photo? If anything, it will inform the terrorists to leave their cameras at home when entering the Pentagon Station.

But it doesn’t say anything about weapons being restricted.

A guy named Mr. T. in DC stated the following on the Flickr thread.

I’ve said it before, the Pentagon is just a building, and none of the classified military information is visible from the outside, unless the employees are in the habit of placing their computer monitors on the window ledge. I don’t see why photography of the outside of the building is prohibited.
This policy has fostered something that actually hurts the military: the 9/11 conspiracy theories. If the general public were permitted/encouraged to photograph the Pentagon, and they were a little more open regarding visitors, there would undoubtedly have been clear, detailed photographs of the jetliner crashing into the Pentagon on 9/11/01. Instead, the security camera footage doesn’t show the jet, just the explosion, and hence has given credence to the conspiracy theorists who claim it was a missile. Plus, without dramatic images available like with the WTC, the Pentagon attack has been overshadowed in the popular memory, which is unfortunate.
So, I think allowing photography outside of the Pentagon and in the Metro station would be a good thing, and would actually benefit the military authorities in the event of any future terrorism. Obviously, photography INSIDE the Pentagon should be banned because that’s where the classified information is.

And a guy named A & D Photography who says he is in the military even agrees with him, but acknowledges there is not much we can do about reversing this policy.

I am in the military, I have been in secure areas, and been restricted from even more secure area, even being in the military.
Now, Mr. T has valid points and I understand and agree there is is no real reason why you cant photograph the outside of the building, and I don’t want to get into the whole conspiracy thing, this thread isn’t for that.
They have to draw the line somewhere, and the military will make the rules and you being a civilian is a loosing situation for you.
The military is targeted in many areas, and they are going to protect them selves in the most simplest ways. By restricting photography even when they might be open to the public.
Even if you are in public, and on private property you still can’t photograph is they say you cant.

And finally, Erin M. ended up requesting the official Pentagon policy restricting photography and she received the following.

The federal law that prohibits photographing at the Pentagon Metrorail station is Code of Federal Regulation (C.F.R.) Part 234, Section 15 (C.F.R.234.15). As mentioned in previous emails this regulation is enforced by the Pentagon Force Protection Agency.That actual code states: The use of cameras or other visual recording devices in restricted areas or in internal offices must be approved by the Department of Defense component occupying the space. Photographs for advertising or commercial purposes may only be taken with the permission of the Office of the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs.

But the turnstile is neither a “restricted area” or within an “internal office”, so the question is, is there anything in the books that allows them to ban photography at the metro station?


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