In an exclusive interview with The Heritage Foundation’s Robert Bluey, former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey today criticized successor Eric Holder for pursuing criminal action against CIA employees who used enhanced interrogation techniques to gather intelligence from terrorists:

“I think both the fact and the way it was done are absolutely outrageous,” Mukasey said. “Those cases were investigated by career prosecutors [and] detailed memos were drafted describing why those prosecutions should not go forward and those people were told that no prosecution would go forward. The current attorney general, when he took office, without reading the memos, directed that those investigations be reopened. I think that was an unconscionable thing to do.”

Holder’s actions can’t help but have a negative effect on intelligence gathering in the future, Mukasey said.

Mukasey also explains why those portions of The PATRIOT Act that are up for renewal this week are more important than ever.

“The current plots that we’re encountering are very different than the ones we encountered before,” he said. “We’re getting a lot of much smaller plots because Al Qaeda’s ability to mount the larger ones has been degraded substantially, so we need things like the section 215 authority to obtain records, like roving wiretaps and other authorities that are up for renewal in order to investigate these smaller plots in a nimble fashion.”

Fortunately, Congress will likely vote this week to extend those provisions for the next four years.