Mike Rogers changes tune on Patriot Act amid Senate bid

US Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (left) and former US Rep. Mike Rogers (right) attend a House Select Intelligence hearing. (Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

By Kyle Kaminski

December 7, 2023

Former US Rep. Mike Rogers said he wants the Patriot Act reformed after it was “misused” to spy on innocent Americans. But without Rogers in Congress, the controversial law may never have even been written.

MICHIGAN—One of the lawmakers who helped write the Patriot Act in the wake of 9/11 is now calling for the legislation to be reformed as he attempts to win an open US Senate seat in Michigan.

During a recent radio appearance, former US Rep. Mike Rogers—who is now running in the Republican primary for a US Senate seat in Michigan—spoke at length about what he views as long-standing privacy concerns connected to the controversial law, which for decades has made it much easier for the federal government to spy on and track the activity of ordinary Americans

“I think you have to reform it. We need to make sure that you can go after foreigners. This is key,” Rogers said. “They keep stretching it. You have to put some boundaries back on it.”

Reforming the Patriot Act is a popular idea. The American Civil Liberties Union has been pushing for changes for decades. And polling (among both Republicans and Democrats) has shown that Americans support limiting government surveillance to better protect their privacy.

But Rogers’ recent remarks stand in stark contrast to his Congressional record.

In addition to voting in support of the Patriot Act in 2001, Rogers also reportedly served as one of the chief architects of the legislation—which included controversial provisions that allow for the indefinite detention of immigrants, and so-called “sneak-and-peek” searches where federal agencies can delay giving notice before they search Americans’ homes and office buildings.

Rogers also has a lengthy history of defending federal phone and internet surveillance programs, and he also lobbied for a long-term extension of the Patriot Act in 2011.

Here’s what Rogers had to say about the Patriot Act in 2005: “I’ve never seen the kind of [federal law enforcement] cooperation we had today. That’s because of the Patriot Act and the ability to keep up with technology and chase terrorists, which is incredibly important.” 

And here’s his latest take: “They seem to have misused it and not once or twice, but a bunch. My argument is you cannot continue to do it that way. It needs to be absolutely reformed.”

It’s unclear what motivated Rogers to shift his views on the law after he helped write it. Neither Rogers nor his campaign team responded to a request for comment from The ‘Gander.

Road to 2024

Rogers is among nearly a dozen Republicans—including former US Rep. Peter Meijer and former Detroit Police Chief James Craig—who are vying for a chance to represent Michigan in the US Senate following US Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s retirement at the end of next year.

A Republican candidate has not won a Senate race in Michigan since 1994.

The primary election is set for Feb. 27. US Rep. Elissa Slotkin is widely viewed as the frontrunner on the Democratic side of the ticket. The general election is Nov. 5, 2024.

READ MORE: Republican candidates vow to gut health insurance for 1.3M Michiganders

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Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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