Oh no, I don’t think it was a case of Whitehurst saying “Sure, I’ll ship this for xyz dollars HA HA HA! >:D” either and certainly did not mean to imply anything of the sort! It is malware.
But I do realise that the source is a leaked operators manual and in no way do I consider it a complete snapshot of the situation (First rule of paranoia: There is always more than what you can confirm ;)).
If anything, I see this as an opportunity though. What are the dependencies?, are they in the proprietary blobs? (how would anyone know?) and is running a fully Free distro an assurance you can take comfort in? Actually, reaching out to Ruben from Trisquel on this topic to see if they’ve looked into it at all would be interesting (actually again, Ruben as a guest would be entertaining in itself :))