Attorney General Eric Holder took aim at former Defense and CIA chief Leon Panetta on Monday, whose recently-published memoir accused President Barack Obama of vacillating over policy in Syria and damaging U.S. credibility.
Holder, in an interview with CNN, defended the president's decisiveness and said Panetta acted improperly by dishing on the president.
"I think [what] Leon said in the book is unfortunate. But frankly, I don't think it's something that a former Cabinet member should do while the president he served is still in office," Holder said. "That's not something that I would even consider doing."
Holder in the coming weeks is set to conclude his tenure as one of the original members of Obama's cabinet.
He announced plans to retire when the Senate confirms his successor. The White House says the president will announce a nominee after the midterm elections.
Holder said Panetta's characterization of the president is inaccurate.
"The president is a deliberate person in an appropriate way. But he's also resolute once he makes up his mind," Holder told CNN. "Let's remember, this is the president who took a chance in going after Osama bin Laden in the way that he did. He has been decisive in a whole variety of areas to keep the American people safe in doing it in a way that's consistent with our values.
When he leaves, Holder said, he plans to catch up on sleep and then perhaps take a long cross-country driving vacation, including visiting the Grand Canyon for the first time. Any later plans will have to wait, he said.