The National Security Agency may have attempted to penetrate and compromise a widely used network designed to protect the anonymity of its users, but it was only because terrorists and criminals use it, too.Perhaps that may sound reasonable, until you realize that by "our adversaries" the NSA basically means EVERYONE, including all US citizens. Recall this piece from the Guardian:
That’s the explanation from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper about the recently disclosed attacks by the NSA and its companion agency in the U.K. against The Onion Router, or Tor, a network that uses a constantly changing list of specially configured servers to relay and anonymize the Internet traffic of its users.
In a statement posted to the DNI’s blog, Clapper acknowledged NSA’s “interest in tools used to facilitate anonymous online communication.” However, media coverage of the work fails to point out that “the Intelligence Community’s interest in online anonymity services and other online communication and networking tools is based on the undeniable fact that these are the tools our adversaries use to communicate and coordinate attacks against the United States and our allies.”
Since 2011, the total spending on Sigint enabling has topped $800m. The program "actively engages US and foreign IT industries to covertly influence and/or overtly leverage their commercial products' designs", the document states. None of the companies involved in such partnerships are named; these details are guarded by still higher levels of classification.
Among other things, the program is designed to "insert vulnerabilities into commercial encryption systems". These would be known to the NSA, but to no one else, including ordinary customers, who are tellingly referred to in the document as "adversaries".The NSA is the man in the middle . . .