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John McCain Calls Sony Hack Attack ‘A New Form of Warfare’

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) countered President Obama’s characterization of the hacking attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment as “cyber-vandalism.”

“The president does not understand that this is … a manifestation of a new form of warfare,” McCain told Candy Crowley. “When you destroy economies, when you are able to impose censorship on the world and especially the United States of America, it’s more than vandalism.”

“It’s a new form of warfare that we’re involved in, and we need to react and react vigorously, including reimposing sanctions that were lifted under the Bush administration, including other actions and that will squeeze them for economically. But most of all, we have to really work together with the president and the Congress to come up with counters and abilities to respond, but more importantly to prevent.”

The FBI announced on Friday their conclusion that North Korea was responsible for the attack, apparently in retaliation for the comedy “The Interview.” The North Korean regime has denied it.

In another interview, Obama was asked by Crowley how he characterized the attack on Sony. “I don’t think it was an act of war. I think it was an act of cyber-vandalism that was very, very expensive. We take it very seriously. We will respond proportionally as I said.”

Chris Dodd, the chairman of the MPAA, referred to the attack as an act of “cyber-terrorism.”

Obama said at a press conference on Friday that Sony’s decision to pull “The Interview” was a mistake. But Sony said the president and others did not understand the sequence of events, as theaters pulled out of showing the movie and left the studio with “no choice.” Exhibitors dropped the movie in the face of a threat of violence issued by the hackers, although Homeland Security officials said they had found no evidence that the threat was credible.

Obama softened his criticism of the studio’s decision to Crowley. “Well, look, I was pretty sympathetic to the fact that they’ve got business considerations they’ve got to make. And you know, had they talked to me directly about this decision, I might have called movie theater chains and distributors and asked them what the story was.

“But what I was laying out was a principle that I think this country has to abide by. We believe in free speech. We believe in the right of artistic expression and things that power that be might not like. And if we set a precedent in which a dictator in another country can disrupt, through cyber, you know, a company’s distribution chain or its products and, as a consequence, we start censoring ourselves, that’s a problem.”

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