Obama: 'I Don't Think (North Korean Cyber Attack) Was An Act of War'

By Susan Jones | December 22, 2014 | 6:34am EST

President Barack Obama and the first family disembark Air Force One after arriving for their annual family Christmas vacation Friday, Dec. 19, 2014, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Eugene Tanner)

(CNSNews.com) - President Obama says he's disappointed in Sony's decision to pull a movie after North Korea hacked the company and made threats against movie theaters that planned to show the film.

"No, I don't think it was an act of war," Obama told CNN's "State of the Union" with Candy Crowley in a taped interview that aired on Sunday. "I think it was an act of cyber-vandalism that was very costly, very expensive. We take it very seriously. We will respond proportionally, as I said.

"But, you know, we're going to be in an environment in this new world where so much is digitalized that both state and nonstate actors are going to have the capacity to disrupt our lives in all sort of ways. We have to do a much better job of guarding against that."

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told CNN's "State of the Union" the president "does not understand" that the cyber-attack blamed on North Korea "is a manifestation of a new form of warfare."

"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 that will squeeze them (North Korea) more 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. There have been cyber-attacks from China that have betrayed some of our most important -- hacking which has betrayed some of our most important military secrets.

"We have identified a building in Beijing that's run by the People's Liberation Army that are -- we have lost billions of dollars in industrial capabilities and secrets that have been transferred through this.

"This is a new form of warfare. We need to work. And we need to harness the best minds in America, including some of those out in Silicon Valley, to help us devise ways of countering this."

McCain told Crowley that he believes Americans' bank accounts and other infrastructure (water, electricity) are at risk.

"Now, whether there's that capability or not is questionable, but, over time, they're bound to have that capability. This is not vandalism. It is a new form of warfare. And we have to counter with that form of warfare with a better form of warfare."

Appearing on CBS's "Face the Nation," Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said he supports President Obama's stated intention to respond forcefully to North Korea.

"But, second, I think it's important that that movie be played, that that movie be seen. I don't even know if it's a good movie, but I think it's now important that that happen, that we figure out way to get that out there so Americans can watch it.

"It's unacceptable that this attack not just on our country, not just on a business located in America, but on our constitutional freedoms, if it's unresponded to, if it stays the way it is now, it is going to be an incentive for others to try and do the exact same thing in the future."

Rubio said North Korea is governed by "a criminal syndicate that controls territory and need to be treated as such.

"Now, unfortunately, they possess nuclear weapons and are led by an irrational leader. So, all that needs to be taken into account...You have a person running that country that is mentally unstable, but also someone that is fully capable of overestimating his own strength and ends up miscalculating and creating a real catastrophe, not just vis-a-vis South Korea, but also Japan and the United States.

"This is a very serious threat. It's not just a cyber-threat. I think North Korea has the potential to become a source of huge instability in the next few months here."

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