03:23 - Source: CNN
McCain: Sony hack not 'cybervandalism'

Story highlights

McCain dismissed Obama's characterization of the Sony cyberattack as "cybervandalism"

Instead, McCain called it "a new form of warfare" and has called it an "act of warfare"

McCain also said the Saudis are more responsible for the Russian economic collapse than Obama's policies

Washington CNN —  

President Barack Obama and John McCain are once again at odds over national security: this time, it’s over the North Korean cyberattack on Sony Pictures.

Sen. John McCain rejected Obama’s characterization of the North Korean hack as “an act of cybervandelism,” instead calling it “a new form of warfare” on CNN’s State of the Union.

“The President does not understand that this is a manifestation of a new form of warfare when you destroy economies, when you are able to impose censorship,” McCain, a Republican from Arizona, said. “It’s more than vandalism. It’s a new form of warfare that we’re involved in and we need to react and we need to react vigorously.”

READ: Obama calls Sony hack ‘cybervandalism’

A group of North Korean-backed hackers broke into Sony Pictures’ servers last month and threatened to attack movie theaters screening the movie, “The Interview,” a satirical comedy depicting an assassination attempt against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Sony put off its plans to release the film after major movie theaters decided not to screen it.

McCain called that attack an “act of war” in a radio interview on Friday and pledged to call a hearing on the matter in the first two weeks of the next Congress when he takes the helm of the Senate Armed Services Committee

McCain also (literally) laughed off the notion that Obama’s actions are responsible for crippling the Russian economy, which is nose diving into a recession.

“We should be thanking the Saudis who have allowed the value of a barrel of oil to go to the point where it’s affecting dramatically Vladimir Putin’s economy,” Putin said. “It has nothing to do with any action taken by the President of the United States.”

McCain added that he believes American sanctions, which have been the lynchpin of Obama’s strategy in confronting Russia, have had little effect.

In his interview with CNN’s Candy Crowley that aired Sunday, Obama countered critics like McCain who have said Obama has been outmaneuvered by Putin and pointed to the Russian economic collapse as evidence.

“Right now he’s presiding over the collapse of his currency, a major financial crisis and a huge economic contraction, ” Obama said. “That doesn’t sound like somebody who has rolled me or the United States of America.”

McCain also joined the fray of Republicans – including most prominently potential 2016 presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio – who have criticized Obama’s decision to ease sanctions and normalize relations with Cuba, claiming that Obama is rewarding Cuba for bad behavior.

“That in my view would encourage others,” he said.

Most Democrats and a few Republicans, including Sens. Jeff Flake and Rand Paul, have hailed Obama’s agreement with Cuba since the 50-year embargo against the country has failed to alter the country’s internal politics.