But some towns are now shaking off the fear and fighting back against the fear-mongers with an unusual tactic: Town-hall resolutions that invite the Federal government to relocate a released Guanta'namo detainee in their town.
The campaign, organized by No More Guanta'namos, has been helped by recent findings that the vast majority of those held in the prison are in fact innocent victims who had nothing to do with terrorism.
Just two weeks ago, a Federal judge, after finding that "there is no persuasive evidence to justify his detention," ordered the release of Mohammed Hassen, a 27-year old Yemeni imprisoned by the U.S. without charges for 8 years. Hassen was the 36th detainee ordered released when a habeas corpus hearing found no evidence of ties to terrorism. As blogger Glenn Greenwald notes, 72% of the Guanta'namo detainees offered a chance to challenge their imprisonment have been found innocent.
Who are the detainees that the people of Leverett and Amherst hope to welcome into their communities? Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, a former top aide to Colin Powell, President Bush's Secretary of State, recently answered this question in a written statement in support of a lawsuit filed by one Guanta'namo detainee. Wilkerson says that the majority of detainees -- children as young as 12 and men as old as 93 -- never saw a US soldier when they were captured. He said that many were turned over by Afghans and Pakistanis for up to $5,000. Little or no evidence was produced as to why they had been taken.
No More Guanta'namos (NMG) encourages activists to start with a local "kickoff meeting" to discuss the plight of Guanta'namo's many innocent detainees and to introduce the idea of resettlement. After that initial step, NMG assists local groups in identifying a prisoner, finding information, telling his story, and even writing to the prisoner about their efforts. After sufficient public-education work, local activists may choose to move on to a town-hall or city-council resolution requesting resettlement of a freed Guanta'namo prisoner.
Get started on your own No More Guanta'namos campaign here...