international affairs

Obama Says the Sony Hack Wasn’t an ‘Act of War,’ But It Might Have Been Terrorism

US President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign event in Denver, Colorado, on May 23, 2012. Obama may have made his name peddling hope and change, but his aspirational politics concealed a ruthless streak now being turned on the man who wants his job: Mitt Romney. President Obama and his hard-eyed political consultants have unleashed a long-planned attack on the Republican's corporate past, seeking to turn November's election on Romney's character rather than his own economic record. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages)
Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

In a pre-Christmas-vacation interview with CNN’s Candy Crowley, President Obama disappointed the nation’s hawks by saying that he doesn’t consider the Sony hack an “act of war” by North Korea, which his administration has blamed for the attack. “I don’t think it was an act of war,” he said. “I think it was an act of cybervandalism that was very costly, very expensive. We take it very seriously.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean North Korea is off the hook for forcing everyone in America to think about The Interview. “We’re not going to be intimidated by some cyberhackers,” Obama said while once again promising that the United States would respond “proportionately.”

He also told Crowley that he is thinking about returning Kim Jong-un’s brutal dictatorship to the list of countries that sponsor terrorism, which would subject it to strict sanctions. (North Korea spent around 20 years on the list before President Bush removed it in 2008, leaving only Iran, Sudan, Syria, and Cuba.) However, as the Associated Press explains, Obama might have trouble designating North Korea as a sponsor of terrorism: “To meet the criteria, the State Department must determine that a country has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism, a definition that traditionally has referred to violent, physical attacks rather than hacking.”

Obama’s CNN appearance was filmed on Friday, before North Korea demanded that the United States participate in a joint investigation into the real hackers. Luckily, he’ll have plenty of time to mull Kim’s offer in Hawaii.

Obama Says Sony Hack Wasn’t an ‘Act of War’