Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. was the target of severe criticism by his predecessor, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, for pursuing criminal action against CIA employees for their involvement in what the Bush administration called enhanced interrogation techniques.

In an unusual step of criticizing a successor at the Department of Justice, Mukasey said Holder’s 2009 directive was “absolutely outrageous,” following a recent talk on the PATRIOT Act to an audience at The Heritage Foundation.

“The current attorney general, when he took office, without reading the memos, directed that those investigations be reopened,” said Mukasey. “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.”

“Regardless of the ultimate outcome, it’s going to do no good and demoralize that agency for a long time,” he said.

The Department of Justice had not responded to a request for comment by the time of this post.