On Thursday, press secretary Josh Earnest said that the White House was treating the Sony hack — the leak of hundreds of thousands of privileged Sony documents, gleefully released in waves since late November — as a "serious national security matter." Though no specific entity has been blamed by the administration, top-tier officials report that it's almost certainly the fault of North Korea, which was hoping to put an end to The Interview, the Seth Rogan and James Franco-starring film that features Kim Jong-un's head getting, to put it mildly, blown to bits.
We may not agree with the content of every single thing that is produced, we certainly stand squarely on the side of private individuals to express themselves. And that is a very that is strongly held by this administration, as it has been throughout the history of our country.
For example, I truly doubt the White House agrees with the content of at least one leaked email between Sony exec Amy Pascal and mega-producer Scott Rubin, who joked that President Obama's favorite film was probably either Django Unchained or 12 Years A Slave. You know, because Obama's black. Geddit? No, us neither.
This is something that’s being treated as a serious national security matter. There is evidence to indicate that we have seen destructive activity with malicious intent that was initiated by a sophisticated actor.
Quite aside from everything we learned from leaked emails, salary figures, schedules, and so on — did you know that Jennifer Lawrence wasn't paid as much as her male co-stars, for example? — one thing is clear: if North Korea is responsible for the Sony attack, we're talking about a large-scale cyberassault on one country by another. Not to mention: If North Korea can hack into Sony's private servers without problems, what happens when Kim Jong-un and co decide to wreak havoc in the United States by, for example, tracking down privileged government files?
So what will the White House response be? Well, "proportional," to quote Earnest. That said, he warned that an overemphatic response could provide problems of its own.
Sophisticated actors, when they carry out actions like this, are oftentimes — not always, but often — seeking to provoke a response from the United States of America. They may believe that a response from us in one fashion or another would be advantageous to them. So we want to be mindful of that.
It's not as though North Korea and the U.S. were best buds before (we're not counting Kim Jong-un and Dennis Rodman). Though the two countries don't have an official relationship, North Korea's development of long-range missiles — not to mention threats to use them on the United States — has put North Korea squarely in the administration's bad books in recent years, not helped by the most recent leader's questionable ascent to power and human rights violations that have been compared to the Nazi era.