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Whitmer plot shows why private militias 'must not be tolerated,' national security expert says

October 09, 2020, 7:04 AM

A former federal prosecutor and Justice Department official in Washington speaks out against "unauthorized militia activity [that] continues in Michigan and elsewhere."

Mary B. McCord: "They must not be tolerated." (Photo: PBS)

Mary B. McCord, now a visiting professor at Georgetown University Law School, writes a New York Times commentary headlined "The Plot Against Gretchen Whitmer Shows the Danger of Private Militias."

The unnamed militia involved in the kidnapping plot is part of a growing number of private paramilitary groups mobilizing across the country, wholly outside of lawful authority or governmental accountability. These organizations — some of which openly refer to themselves as "militias," while others reject the term — often train together in the use of firearms and other paramilitary techniques and "deploy," heavily armed and sometimes in full military gear, when they deem it necessary.

Sometimes they want to fight against the perceived tyranny of the states, as when they stormed the Capitol in Lansing this spring to demand the end of the governor's pandemic shutdown order, egged on by President Trump's tweets to "LIBERATE MICHIGAN!"

McCord, legal director at Georgetown’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, was acting assistant attorney general for national security from 2016-17. Earlier, she was an official in the Justice Department's national security division for two years and an assistant U.S. attorney for nearly 20 years.

Don't mind us, we're just protecting freedom at the Capitol last spring. (File photo)

Her op-ed column says groups such as the Wolverine Watchmen, reportedly tied to Thursday's federal and state conspiracy charges against 13 men, "have no authority to call themselves forth into militia service. The Second Amendment does not protect such activity, and all 50 states prohibit it."

At this politically tense time, the professor adds, "state and local leaders, in both parties, must denounce armed militia activity, whether from the right or the left."

There is no right in any state for groups of individuals to arm themselves and organize either to oppose or augment the government. ... They must not be tolerated.

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Read more:  The New York Times

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