White House Calls Sony Hack "A Serious National Security Matter"

Posted: Dec 18, 2014 3:15 PM

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest called the cyberattack on Sony, Inc. "a serious national security matter," but declined to acknowledge whether or not North Korea had any role in the incident.

"This is a matter that is still under investigation both by the FBI and the National Security Division of the Department of Justice," Earnest said in direct response to a question about whether the White House believes North Korea was behind the Sony hack. "I think for pretty obvious reasons I am not going to get ahead of that investigation or any announcements they may make about that investigation."

Earnest did go on to describe the "cyber incident" as "a serious national security matter" and said President Obama has been getting daily briefings on the matter in meetings led by his Homeland Security advisor and cyber coordinator.

"There is evidence to indicate that we have seen destructive activity with malicious intent that was initiated by a sophisticated actor," Earnest carefully read from his notes. "And it is being treated by those investigative agencies, both at the FBI and the Department of Justice, as seriously as you would expect."

Earnest said the Obama administration is "considering a range of options" and are "mindful of the need for a "proportional response." Pressed to describe what an appropriate "proportional" response might be, Earnest declined insisting on the need to let the investigation finish.

Pressed later in the briefing by Major Garrett of CBS News as to whether the White House considered North Korea "a nation of interest" in the investigation of the Sony hack, Earnest directed the question to the FBI and Justice Department.

Asked near the end of the briefing if Obama would consider screening Sony's movie, "The Interview," at the White House, Earnest did not rule out the possibility, but he did note that the president is scheduled to leave for a two week Hawaii vacation on Friday and that there are no screenings scheduled before his departure.