Rigas believes the fact that Yoo has been able “to continue propagating and arguing his position under the unitary executive power is actually quite dangerous."
“This can already be seen with the fact that John Yoo doesn’t just lecture to Boalt Hall. He lectures to other law students throughout the country. Right now he’s a visiting professor at Chapman under a distinguished position,” said Rigas.
Sharon Adams, a lawyer affiliated with the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) who operates out of California, supports NLG efforts to have John Yoo disbarred and would like to see Yoo fired from his job as a law professor and prosecuted. She’s sympathetic to the “Fire John Yoo!” campaign that activists are waging in San Francisco.
Adams happens to think the reason Yoo is a visiting professor at Chapman University this semester is because John Yoo was asked to get out of town because the protests were mounting up and Berkeley no longer wanted protests on the campus. She thinks the college advised him to “just quietly go to this conservative university and hopefully things [would] die down.”
According to Adams, Yoo was going to have a talk at Berkeley on March 12th that was postponed indefinitely, which shows that the group of activists applying pressure to John Yoo have a lot of grassroots power right now.
So, when did this “Fire John Yoo!” campaign start and what is it all about?
Rigas went to Berkeley last summer to work with the “Fire John Yoo!” campaign that had formed. She says the first big action it engaged in was at the 2008 Boalt Hall graduation.
“[Activists] had orange jumpsuits and posters and they really confronted the idea that people were graduating having gone through Yoo’s classes and were going to enter the profession of law. There were students who did not support the fact that their parents were going to have to walk through a group of people who were actually taking this on,” explained Rigas.
The campaign followed the action with a town hall meeting to discuss what it meant to have John Yoo teaching at Berkeley in the community. The group further organized and paid for a billboard to be put up that said “Silence + Torture = Complicity” and had the World Can’t Wait website listed below. And, months following the summer actions, as a result of the activists’ pressure on Yoo and Berkeley, the Berkeley City Council passed a nonbinding resolution dealing with John Yoo.
The campaign essentially centers around the fact that he was arguing for "law in the service of empire" and should not be allowed to hide from consequences by taking advantage of his status in an academic institution like UC Berkeley.
Right now, activists from World Can’t Wait have created a model for taking action against accused war criminals that other citizens across the country could use to apply pressure for accountability and consequences for war crimes and crimes against humanity and most importantly, policies of torture like the ones Yoo created.
Stephanie Rugoff, project coordinator for War Criminals Watch, which is an organization being formed to track where accused war criminals have gone since they’ve left the Bush Regime
“We’re seeing where they are and what we hope to do by publicizing our website and reaching out to students in student organizations at universities where they go is to replicate the kind of organization that can be seen with Fire John Yoo at Berkeley,” said Rugoff.
As Rugoff sees it, what she and her organization plans to do is complementary to grassroots organizing going on throughout the country which is contributing to calls for a special prosecutor, a truth commission, etc.
Rugoff is “organizing people at a local level so that students can act at their local university” and contribute to a mass movement for accountability. Citizens are being empowered “to stand up against criminals who should have to face consequences for what they did.”