Attorney General Eric Holder came under fire today from his predecessor at the Justice Department for pursuing criminal action against CIA employees involved in the enhanced interrogation of terrorists.

Following a speech at The Heritage Foundation, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey called Holder’s handling of matter “absolutely outrageous.” He said the cases involving CIA employees were settled by career prosecutors who determined the prosecutions should not go forward.

“The current attorney general, when he took office, without reading the memos, directed that those investigations be reopened,” Mukasey said. “I think that was an unconscionable thing to do — not only to the people involved, but also to the agency, which is demoralized by something like that. People were essentially told they can’t rely on opinions of the Justice Department.”

Mukasey added that Holder’s actions against the CIA operatives would stifle intelligence gathering by the United States.

“Regardless of the ultimate outcome, it’s going to do no good and demoralize that agency for a long time,” he said. “We’ve gone through these cycles before in which agency operatives go out on a limb and do things to help protect us and then are criticized for it. And we suffer for years afterward. I’m sad to say I think that’s going to happen this time, too.”

Mukasey was at Heritage to talk about the expiration of the PATRIOT Act and the action in Congress this week to extend it for four years. He addressed the importance of the law and explained why it protects civil liberties.