Bangkok denies report of al-Qaeda interrogations at base - The Nation, June 10, 2003
[Thailand denies the story below... BTW: the international press has been reporting the al-Qaeda interrogations in Thailand since last year, but this is the first denial we have heard.]
Tiptoes in Step With American Antiterror Effort
- New York Times, June 8, 2003
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has secretly been helping in
the campaign against terrorism in several significant ways... But
Mr. Bush will receive Mr. Thaksin for several reasons, officials said.
For one, the administration wants Thailand's promise not to turn over
any Americans to the International Criminal Court, a pledge the administration
has been seeking from other countries as well.
Thailand is also important in the Pentagon's new strategy of "forward
positioning," establishing sites where American forces can store
equipment and from which they can come and go as needed.
One such place in Thailand is Utapao Air Base, 90 miles south of Bangkok.
During the Vietnam War, Utapao was humming 24 hours a day as a base
for B-52's carrying out bombing raids over North Vietnam. Despite
Thailand's studied neutrality on the war in Iraq one Thai foreign
affairs official said during the war that the country had no position
Mr. Thaksin allowed Utapao to be used by American warplanes
flying into combat in Iraq, as he had earlier, during the war in Afghanistan.
Utapao is also probably where Qaeda operatives have been interrogated,
retired American intelligence officials said, explaining that the
base had facilities for sophisticated interrogations.
Last year, according to other American officials, at least two senior
Qaeda operatives were brought here for interrogation Abu Zubaydah,
thought to have been Al Qaeda's operations chief, and Ramzi bin al-
Shibh, a planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks...