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Critics Pan Wired's Extensive Snowden Interview

Several writers criticized Wired's cover image, which shows Edward Snowden draped in an American flag, as well as the so-called "softball interview."

Critics Pan Wired's Extensive Snowden Interview
Wired / Platon

It seems like each time Edward Snowden comes up for air, he brings with him new revelations about the U.S. government's surveillance programs. A lengthy article published in Wired on Wednesday was no different. 

"My name is Ed Snowden. I used to work for the government and now I work for the public." 

The interview was conducted by James Bamford, an expert on U.S. intelligence and the NSA, over the course of three days earlier this year — the most time any journalist has spent with the former NSA contractor since he touched down in Russia. 

The interview was chock full of new information. Snowden claimed the NSA accidently took down Syria's Internet due to a botched surveillance operation in 2012. Then there's the oddly-named automated spy program called MonsterMind. Snowden claims the government program is used to detect and eliminate potential digital threats. 

Then, of course, Snowden said reporter Glenn Greenwald and others have mentioned before: that the largest revelations are yet to come. All of this sounds familiar, but several writers have panned one of the most extensive interviews of Snowden since the leaks began. 

For starters, there's the image Snowden clutching the American flag — sort of ironic considering some have labeled him a traitor. 

"He looked at the flag and he said, "I don't know. It's a bit risky, but that is pretty powerful." 

Brian Stelter at CNN called that "risky" but "powerful" move Snowden's first major public relatons "blunder." "Until now, the PR tactics by 'Team Snowden' have showed real thoughtfulness and sophistication," but, "the image risks distracting from the cause they continue to champion: real, meaningful reform to surveillance practices."

According to other sources like the New York Post, the other mistake was likely allowing Bamford to throw "softballs" at Snowden instead of tough questions.

CNET and Gizmodo both refer to Bamford as an NSA whistleblower himself. The New Yorker reports Bamford uncovered secret NSA-related documents which were later published in a book. 

A New Republic writer congratulates Bamford for nabbing the interview, but says, "The profile reads like a release from a Snowden PR press office, replete with fawning asides and subject-serving mischaracterizations."

Last week, Russia renewed Snowden's residency permit for three more years, essentially protecting him from extradition to the U.S. So, when he decides to release more information in the future, he won't be doing it on the run.  

Bamford reports the NSA declined to comment on the existence of a program called MonsterMind. You can head to Wired.com to read the rest of the interview. The print issue will hit newsstands Aug. 26. 

This video contains images from Getty Images.