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Washington outraged over Sony decision

By Jeremy Diamond, CNN
updated 10:50 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rep. Ed Royce called the decision a "capitulation" and called for sanctions to punish North Korea for a "cyber war"
  • Mitt Romney also tweeted, urging Sony "don't cave, fight"
  • Sen. John McCain said Sony's decision sets a "troubling precedent," but ultimately blamed Obama
  • Reps. Adam Kinzinger and Steve Israel also sounded off on Twitter

Washington (CNN) -- From Hollywood to Washington, the outrage is spreading over Sony Pictures' decision to cancel a movie release following a cyber attack and threats from a group of North Korea-backed hackers.

Politicians urged Sony not to back down in the face of threats tied to the release of the controversial comedy "The Interview," and then began lashing out when the studio made it clear it has no further plans to release the film, which depicts an assassination plot against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Republican Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, slammed Sony's decision Thursday as a "capitulation" to the North Korean dictator and called for the U.S. to rally the international community and severely sanction North Korea for carrying out what he called a "cyber war."

FBI investigators tracked the hackers who broke into Sony's servers, published private information and threatened moviegoers back to the North Korean regime, U.S. law enforcement officials told CNN on Wednesday. The North Korean regime slammed the movie this summer as "terrorism and a war action."

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And despite the hackers' threat to attack movie theaters, the Department of Homeland Security has said "there is no credible intelligence" supporting an active plot against movie theaters. And President Barack Obama urged people to "go to the movies."

"Once you capitulate to one dictator, does that mean that the next dictator or the next terrorist that says you're not going to make a comedy about -- or a film at all about ISIS," Royce said. "All of us in public life have a responsibility right now to speak out and to say, 'No, Sony, you did the wrong thing' and to say to Hollywood, come behind -- the other studios should come behind Sony and offer their support."

Royce said the U.S. should get international support to sanction North Korea and cut off its access to financial institutions.

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More broadly, Royce said Sony's decision to "self-censor" undercuts U.S. efforts to promote freedom throughout the world, including in the hermit kingdom.

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"That's what's most worrisome about this decision," Royce said.

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney also urged Sony, "don't cave, fight" in a tweet on Wednesday.

Sen. John McCain, the incoming chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called Sony's decision "profoundly troubling" in a statement.

"That decision sets a troubling precedent that will only empower and embolden bad actors to use cyber as an offensive weapon even more aggressively in the future," McCain said in a statement Thursday.

But McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, pinned the Sony debacle on the Obama administration for failing to "satisfactorily address" cyber warfare.

McCain pointed to Iranian, Russian and Chinese attacks on government and private financial sectors and said the Obama administration has failed to "deter our adversaries."

But Congress has also failed to tackle cybersecurity, failing to pass legislation before the end of the 113th Congress that would have beefed up public-private sector partnerships to fend off cyber attacks, which are on the rise. And Congress needs to tackle that type of comprehensive legislation, McCain said in the statement.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican and Air Force veteran, didn't pull any punches as he linked the Sony decision to recent events.

And Rep. Steve Israel, a top-ranking Democrat, called on Sony Pictures to release "The Interview" on DVD and tweeted "we should not let a pathological regime in N. Korea intimidate us." He added that he would be the first online to see the movie.

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