White House on Sony hack attack: There will be a proportional response

Via RCP, note that he doesn’t say to whom. Is that plausible deniability of the sort I wrote about earlier or is the White House still less than 100 percent sure that North Korea’s behind this? (Cybersecurity pros disagree on whether the Kim cabal is to blame.) It’s much scarier if some rogue private outfit is behind the Sony hack than if it’s the NorKs, partly because it would show just how much damage freelancers can do to a major international industry and partly because it would show how easy it is for agent provocateurs to raise tensions between two enemy states. What could a hacker or team of hackers do if they set their minds to stoking suspicions between, say, India and Pakistan?

If it is the NorKs, I can’t imagine what a proportional response would look like. Hack state TV and preempt the eight millionth consecutive showing of “Blessings of Victory Come from Great Leader” with “The Interview”? (Or, if you really want to turn the screws, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”?) Let me remind you that when it comes to countering threats of violence aimed at provocative American entertainment, this administration’s record is, shall we say, spotty. Remember?

The American Embassy in Islamabad, in a bid to tamp down public rage over the anti-Islam film produced in the U.S., is spending $70,000 to air an ad on Pakistani television that features President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton denouncing the video. 

The State Department said Thursday the embassy had compiled brief clips of Obama and Clinton rejecting the contents of the movie and extolling American tolerance for all religions into a 30-second public service announcement that is running on seven Pakistani networks. Obama and Clinton’s comments, which are from previous public events in Washington, are in English but subtitled in Urdu, the main Pakistani language.

A “proportional” response from the White House would, I guess, be to hack North Korean state TV and air an apology on Sony’s behalf.

One lingering question in all this: Why now? If NK is behind this, what is it about “The Interview” that set them off to the point where they felt obliged to melt Sony down? Ace is right that Hollywood movies dump on North Korea all the time, most famously “Team America.” “The Interview” raises the bar a little by showing Kim Jong-un being assassinated, but people from the State Department apparently watched the film this summer and found nothing so risky about it as to warrant a heads up to Sony. Maybe, unbeknownst to western analysts, Kim’s hold on power has slipped and the regime is suddenly nervous to any whiff of him being deposed. In which case, good job by Hollywood handing him a glorious propaganda victory that he can use to impress the masses.