Quotes of the day

Sony Pictures Entertainment is and always has been strongly committed to the First Amendment. For more than three weeks, despite brutal intrusions into our company and our employees’ personal lives, we maintained our focus on one goal: getting the film The Interview released. Free expression should never be suppressed by threats and extortion.

The decision not to move forward with the December 25 theatrical release of The Interview was made as a result of the majority of the nation’s theater owners choosing not to screen the film. This was their decision.*

Let us be clear –– the only decision that we have made with respect to release of the film was not to release it on Christmas Day in theaters, after the theater owners declined to show it. Without theaters, we could not release it in the theaters on Christmas Day. We had no choice.

After that decision, we immediately began actively surveying alternatives to enable us to release the movie on a different platform. It is still our hope that anyone who wants to see this movie will get the opportunity to do so.


Despite telling Deadline on Wednesday that Sony Pictures had “no further” release plans for “The Interview,” Lynton told CNN Friday: “We have always had every desire to have the American public see this movie.”

The problem, says Lynton, is that “There has not been one major VOD or one major ecommerce site that has said they are willing to step forward and distribute this movie.” 

But he will need help from distributors willing to release it. “Again, we don’t have that direct interface with the American public so we need to go through an intermediary to do that.”

While Lynton is presumably referring to streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, Sony also owns streaming platform Crackle.


U.S. determination that North Korea was behind the hacking of Sony Corp. unit Sony Pictures again exposes the limited leverage that Washington has on one of the world’s most isolated and impoverished countries should it decide to respond.

Although successive U.S. presidents have imposed decades of restrictions on Pyongyang, the U.S. Treasury has so far directly sanctioned only 41 companies and entities and 22 individuals…

U.S. authorities have struggled to find much to sanction in a country which has limited links to the outside world and whose annual gross domestic product per capita is just $1,800, which ranks it 198 out of 228 countries, according to CIA estimates…

“In concrete terms, there’s not a heck of a lot they can do because one, North Korea doesn’t have an economy, and two, we’ve already got every sanction known to man against them,” said Jim Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who focuses on cybersecurity.


Engaging in a counter-hack could also backfire, U.S. cyberpolicy experts said, in part because the U.S. is able to spy on North Korea by maintaining a foothold on some of its computer systems.

A retaliatory cyberstrike could wind up damaging Washington’s ability to spy on Pyongyang, a former intelligence official said. Another former U.S. official said policy makers remain squeamish about deploying cyberweapons against foreign targets.

When the U.S. used a computer worm called Stuxnet against Iran’s nuclear program, the virus quickly spread around the Internet and can now be copied…

“You don’t have a lot of good choices,” said Martin Libicki, a cyberwar expert at the Rand Corp. “We’re probably looking for something of a small, symbolic nature or a quasi-symbolic nature.”

“You don’t want to start a war on the Korean peninsula over this,” said a former U.S. intelligence official.


To start with, the US government does not need to respond as if this is a cyberwar: no one has died from the digital assault on Sony (and it doesn’t appear that anyone has ever died from any cyber attack ever). And though it is tempting to unleash our own cyber forces, the seemingly mighty US Cyber Command is not likely to offer many promising options. If the assault were still continuing, then US military cyberattacks might have been able to disrupt the adversaries, but now the attack is over and the damage is done.

Likewise, it would be worse than useless for “proportional” to mean a law-enforcement investigation which may or may not result in an indictment, as the Department of Justice did against Chinese officers involved in corporate espionage. The Sony attack has gone beyond spying and needs a stronger response…

With the new “reset” of China and US relations, the administration must re-engage the Chinese to rein in their unruly ally. China could probably stop this directly and immediately if they wanted, as many if not most North Korean hackers work from inside China.

 But an even more important reason to enroll China is to get President Xi Jinping’s personal buy-in that Sony-style attacks are unacceptable. The president probably can’t deter North Korea from these kinds of attacks, but perhaps he can convince Beijing. 


During the Cold War, American strategists developed complex doctrines of multi-layered deterrence. In the early years, figures like President Dwight Eisenhower were taken with the idea that nuclear weapons might provide the ultimate deterrent—and that conventional weapons were becoming obsolete. But over time, we learned that nuclear weapons really only deter other nuclear weapons—and that, to avoid unacceptable escalations, conventional Soviet attacks would have to be countered by conventional American responses. To provide a credible threat and effective deterrent, the United States poured resources into developing a full arsenal of graduated, flexible responses, and devoted the time and care into developing a comprehensive strategy that allowed for their swift deployment.

It is past time to do the same for the sphere of cyber-war. Weeks after the initial attacks on Sony, the hemming and hawing and internal White House debate over whether to even publicly identify North Korea as the perpetrator are no longer a sign of caution, but of dithering and poor planning. Some Pentagon shelf is no doubt stocked with contingency plans for various levels of retaliation against various levels of kinetic aggression from unfriendly states. Similar plans should have been developed in the cybersphere years ago, and the president should be prepared to deploy them. The only way to prevent future attacks is for foreign governments to know that attacks against U.S. targets—cyber or kinetic—will bring fierce, yet proportionally appropriate, responses. In order for other governments to know that the U.S. will respond, first our government must know that it will respond.


As the furore over The Interview has shown, the West is clearly on the back foot

I believe the struggle over The Interview is just the start. And I suspect the shock troops in any future world war will not be blood-streaked men in battle fatigues, but pale-faced computer geeks, hunched intently over their keyboards.

In the years after the fall of the Soviet Union, we in the West were too busy congratulating ourselves on our victory to grasp that a new and potentially even deadlier challenge lay ahead.

Too complacent, too confident in our mastery of the old technology, we failed to realise that war itself was changing.

From Moscow to Pyongyang, the West faces implacable adversaries, equipped with the new digital weapons of the 21st century. If you want to see the battlefield of the future, just look around your living room.


The MSNBC host Toure – who has made his share of controversial statements in the past — asked his guest moments ago whether Sony Pictures making “The Interview” amounted to “shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.” He later asked if depicting the assassination of Kim Jong Un was “inappropriate.”

The thinking of the censor-minded is that somehow, Sony should have known that depicting Kim Jong Un in a humiliating way would have generated a furious, dangerous, threatening response. This is a bit of First Amendment Jujutsu, where somehow you’re responsible not just for what you say but how someone else reacts to it. You’re expected to have clairvoyant abilities of how someone is going to react, and then not speak aloud the argument you wanted to make, because preventing their potentially violent, dangerous, or threatening reaction is more important than your right to speak…

There can not any lawful limitation on truthfully shouting fire in a theater.


But that’s only part of the story. Unrepresentative tweets and Internet comments to the contrary, I think to the extent that people were even aware of the threats, they would be more likely to steer away from the movie (and theaters that showed it) than they would be to defiantly attend

Free speech may be a value people broadly support, but they also take it completely for granted, giving it zero thought in their daily lives. If they hear about a terrorist threat at a movie theater, their first thought is not necessarily, “I’ll go to the movie as an act of defiance,” it’s more like, “Let’s go out to eat instead.” A critical mass of Americans are not necessarily going to see the meaning and purpose of enduring even the slightest risk for a raunchy comedy. 

But here’s the problem: Timidity is habit-forming. Most people like to think of themselves as the kind of person who will do the right thing when the stakes are high, but we can go through most of life without encountering truly high-stakes challenges to our courage and integrity. Instead, we tend to do the easy thing again and again, blissfully unaware that each easy step erodes just a bit more of our character. As I raise my three kids, I think often of Luke 16:10: “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” Sony took the easy out, and so did a host of other companies. 


I was barely aware of The Interview until, while sitting through a trailer for what seemed like just another idiotic leaden comedy, my youngest informed me that the North Koreans had denounced the film as “an act of war”. If it is, they seem to have won it fairly decisively: Kim Jong-Un has just vaporized a Hollywood blockbuster as totally as if one of his No Dong missiles had taken out the studio. As it is, the fellows with no dong turned out to be the executives of Sony Pictures…

I said on Rush on Monday and with John Oakley in Toronto on Wednesday that The Interview was an “edgy” comedy only in Hollywood terms. Ever since Team America, the Kim dynasty has been the homicidal nutjobs it’s safe to make jokes about. Produce a comedy about the Iranian mullahs or the ISIS honchos or any of their coreligionists and you risk finding a far more motivated crowd waiting for you at the stage door. Best to stick to the North Koreans, the one member of the axis of evil you can play for laughs…

Hollywood has spent the 21st century retreating from storytelling into a glossy, expensive CGI playground in which nothing real is at stake. That’s all we’ll be getting from now on. Oh, and occasional Oscar bait about embattled screenwriters who stood up to the House UnAmerican Activities Committee six decades ago, even as their successors cave to, of all things, Kim’s UnKorean Activities Committee. American pop culture – supposedly the most powerful and influential force on the planet – has just surrendered to a one-man psycho-state economic basket-case that starves its own population.

Kim Jong-won.



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