President Obama said Friday he thinks Sony “made a mistake” in choosing not to release “The Interview” in the wake of the devastating hacking attack which he blamed on North Korea, while vowing that the U.S. “will respond.”
The president addressed the breach, at a year-end press conference, for the first time since Sony Pictures Entertainment canceled its high-profile movie release. He also spoke shortly after the FBI formally blamed Kim Jong Un’s regime for the breach.
“We will respond,” Obama vowed, while offering no details on what that response might entail.
He mocked the North Korean regime for launching an “all-out assault” over a satirical movie, but he also chided Sony for responding by shutting down the movie’s release.
“I think they made a mistake,” Obama said.
While saying he sympathizes with their situation and the concerns they faced, he said: “We cannot have a society in which some dictator some place can start imposing censorship here in the United States.”
Obama said that if somebody can “intimidate” a company out of releasing a satirical movie — in this case, one about a plot to execute North Korea’s leader, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco — “imagine what they start doing when they see a documentary they don’t like or news reports they don’t like.”
Obama warned against “self-censorship,” adding: “That’s not who we are.”
The president was holding his last major press conference of the year following a whirlwind of major developments affecting U.S. security, diplomatic and economic interests.
Aside from the developments with the Sony cyber-attack, earlier in the week, Obama announced a push to normalize relations with Cuba following the release of American Alan Gross from Cuban custody after five years.
After taking questions from reporters, Obama and his family will leave for their annual holiday vacation in Hawaii. He’s due back in Washington in early January.
The president faces big obstacles on Capitol Hill next year, when Republicans will take over the Senate and return with a bigger majority in the House. Foreign policy problems also persist in the Middle East and between Russia and Ukraine.
SOURCE: FOX News
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
TEXT OF OBAMA’S REMARKS ON SONY
DID SONY MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION IN PULLING THE MOVIE OR DOES THAT SET A DANGEROUS PRECEDENT?
LET ME ADDRESS THE SECOND QUESTION FIRST. SONY IS A CORPORATION. IT SUFFERED SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE. THERE WERE THREATS AGAINST ITS EMPLOYEES. I AM SYMPATHETIC TO THE CONCERNS THEY FACED. HAVING SAID ALL THAT, YES, I THINK THEY MADE A MISTAKE. IN THIS INTERCONNECTED, DIGITAL WORLD, THERE ARE GOING TO BE OPPORTUNITIES FOR HACKERS TO ENGAGE IN CYBER ATTACKS IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR AM THE PRIVATE SECTOR. OUR FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS IS TO PREVENT THESE TAX — THESE ATTACKS FROM TAKING PLACE. WHEN I FIRST CAME INTO OFFICE, I SET UP A CYBER SECURITY TEAM TO DO WHAT WE COULD AT THE GOVERNMENT LEVEL. BUT A LOT MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE. ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I HOPE CONGRESS WILL WORK ON IN THE NEW YEAR IS STRONGER CYBER SECURITY LAWS THAT ALLOW FOR INFORMATION SHARING ACROSS PRIVATE VECTOR PLATFORMS AS WELL AS THE PUBLIC SECTOR SO THAT WE ARE INCORPORATING BEST PRACTICES AND PREVENTING THESE ATTACKS FROM HAPPENING IN THE FIRST PLACE. BUT EVEN AS WE GET BETTER, THE HACKERS ARE GOING TO GET BETTER TO. SOME ARE GOING TO BE STATE ACTORS. SOME ARE GOING TO BE NONSTATE ACTORS. ALL ARE GOING TO BE SOPHISTICATED AND MANY WILL DO SOME DAMAGE. WE CANNOT HAVE A SOCIETY IN WHICH SOME DICTATOR SOMEPLACE STARTS IMPOSING CENSORSHIP HERE IN THE UNITED STATES. BECAUSE IF SOMEBODY IS ABLE TO INTIMIDATE FOLKS OUT OF RELEASING A SATIRICAL MOVIE, IMAGINE WHAT THEY START DOING WHEN THEY SEE A DOCUMENTARY THEY DON’T LIKE OR NEWS REPORTS THEY DON’T LIKE. OR EVEN WORSE, IMAGINE IF PRODUCERS AND DISTRIBUTORS AND OTHERS STARTING TO AGING AND SELF-CENSORSHIP BECAUSE THEY DON’T WANT TO OFFEND THE SENSIBILITIES OF SOMEBODY WHO SENSIBILITIES PROBABLY NEED TO BE OFFENDED. THAT’S NOT WHO WE ARE. THAT’S NOT WHAT AMERICA IS ABOUT. AGAIN, I AM SYMPATHETIC THAT SONY HAS WORRIES ABOUT LIABILITY . I WISH THEY HAD SPOKEN TO ME FIRST. I WOULD’VE TOLD THEM DO NOT GET INTO A PATTERN IN WHICH YOU’RE INTIMIDATED BY THESE KINDS OF CRIMINAL ATTACKS. IMAGINE IF INSTEAD OF IT BEING A CYBER THREAT SOMEBODY HAD BROKEN INTO THEIR OFFICES AND DESTROYED A BUNCH OF COMPUTERS AND STOLEN DISCS. IS THAT WHAT IT TAKES FOR SUDDENLY FOR YOU TO PULL THE PLUG ON SOMETHING? SO, WE WILL ENGAGE NOT JUST WITH THE FILM INDUSTRY BUT WITH THE NEWS INDUSTRY AROUND THESE ISSUES. I THINK ALL OF US HAVE TO ANTICIPATE THAT OCCASIONALLY THERE ARE GOING TO BE BREACHES LIKE THIS. THEY’RE GOING TO BE COSTLY. THEY ARE GOING TO BE SERIOUS. WE TAKE THEM WITH THE UTMOST SERIOUSNESS. BUT WE CAN’T START CHANGING OUR PATTERNS OF BEHAVIOR ANY MORE THAN WE MIGHT STOP GOING TO FOOTBALL GAMES BECAUSE THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY OF A TERRORIST ATTACK, ANYMORE THAN BOSTON DID NOT RUN A MARATHON THIS YEAR BECAUSE THERE WAS A POSSIBILITY SOMEBODY MIGHT TRY TO CAUSE HARM. LET’S NOT GET INTO THAT WAY OF DOING BUSINESS.
HAVE YOU CONSIDERED TAKING A SYMBOLIC STEP LIKE WATCHING THE MOVIE YOURSELF?
I HAVE A LONG LIST OF MOVIES I AM GOING TO BE WATCHING. I NEVER RELEASE MY FULL MOVIE LIST. BUT — LET’S TALK TO THE SPECIFICS OF WHAT WE NOW KNOW. IT WAS ANNOUNCED TODAY AND WE CAN CONFIRM THAT NORTH KOREA ENGAGED IN THIS ATTACK. I THINK IT SAYS SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT NORTH KOREA THAT THEY HAD THE STATE ANNOUNCE AN ALL-OUT ATTACK ON A MOVIE STARRING SETH ROGEN AND JAMES FRANCO. I LIKE SETH AND JAMES, BUT A NOTION THAT THEY ARE A THREAT GIVES YOU SOME SENSE OF THE KIND OF REGIME WE ARE TALKING ABOUT. THEY COST A LOT OF DAMAGE, AND WE WILL RESPOND. WE WILL RESPOND PROPORTIONALLY AND IN A PLACE AND TIME AND MANNER THAT WE CHOOSE. IT IS NOT SOMETHING I WILL ANNOUNCE HERE TODAY AT A PRESS CONFERENCE. MORE BROADLY THOUGH, THIS SHOULD BE CAUSED TO WORK WITH THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TO START SETTING UP SOME VERY CLEAR RULES OF THE ROAD IN TERMS OF HOW THE INTERNET AND CYBER OPERATES. RIGHT NOW, IT IS THE WILD WEST. PART OF THE PROBLEM IS YOU HAVE WEAK STATES THAT CAN ENGAGE IN THESE KINDS OF ATTACKS. YOU HAVE NONSTATE ACTORS THAT CAN DO ENORMOUS DAMAGE. AGAIN, THIS IS PART OF THE REASON WHY IT IS GOING TO BE SO IMPORTANT FOR CONGRESS TO WORK WITH US AND GET THE BILL PASSED THAT ALLOWS FOR THE KIND OF INFORMATION SHARING WE NEED BECAUSE IF WE DON’T PUT THEM PLACE THE KIND OF ARCHITECTURE — PUT IN PLACE THE KIND OF ARCHITECTURE THAT PREVENTS THESE ATTACKS FROM TAKING PLACE, THIS IS NOT JUST GOING TO AFFECT MOVIES, THIS IS GOING TO AFFECT OUR ENTIRE ECONOMY IN WAYS THAT ARE EXTRAORDINARILY SCARY.