White House Equivocates On North Korean Hack Attack On Sony

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
Font Size:

WASHINGTON — White House spokesman Josh Earnest Thursday downplayed the prospect of any U.S. government reaction to the hacker attacks that stopped Sony Pictures Entertainment’s rollout of a movie about North Korea.

The hacker attacks were apparently launched by North Korea’s fascist government to stop the Sony movie company from releasing a comedy that ridicules North Korea’s dictator. The movie is titled “The Interview.”

On Dec. 17, the company canceled the movie’s Dec. 25 rollout, and said it has no plans to release the movie.

U.S. government officials have told media outlets that Korea is apparently directed the hacker attack.

The appropriate response is “carefully being considered” in the White House, Earnest said.

“The president considers it to be a serious national security matter,” and is monitoring officials’ deliberations over the issue, Earnest said.

But the U.S. response is complicated, Earnest said.

Any response to the attack must be proportional and appropriate, Earnest told reporters Dec. 18.

Also, any counter must not aid the hackers, he said.

The sophisticated actors may be “seeking to provoke a response from the U.S. of America. … They may believe a response from us in one fashion or another, would be advantageous for them,” he said.

“We’re mindful of that phenomenon as we consider the range of options,” he said.

Earnest also minimized the shock of Sony’s retreat, saying that Sony has the right to pull the movie from circulation.

“This is a decision that Sony should [be the one to] make,” because it is a private company, he said.

Follow Neil on Twitter