Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP senators appalled by 'ridiculous' House infighting MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace, Chris Christie battle over Fox News Trump's attacks on McConnell seen as prelude to 2024 White House bid MORE (R-Ariz.) on Sunday rejected President Obama’s description of North Korea’s hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment as “cyber vandalism,” saying the attack was “a new form of warfare.”
“I think, again, the president does not understand this is a manifestation of a new form of warfare,” McCain told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “When you destroy economies, when you are able to impose censorship on the world — and especially the United States of America — it’s more than vandalism, it’s a new form of warfare that we’re involved in, and we need to react and react vigorously.”
The incoming chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee appeared on the show shortly after the president, who declined to call the Sony attack an act of war.
"I think it was an act of cyber vandalism that was very costly, very expensive,” Obama said. “We take it very seriously. We will respond proportionately, as I said.”
While Obama has thus far declined to outline what steps he’s considering in retaliation, McCain suggested reimposing sanctions lifted during the Bush administration — which included removing North Korea from the state sponsors of terrorism list and easing key trade sanctions. Obama did say in his interview that placing North Korea back on the list was something that could be considered.
But the Arizona senator also said it was important for members of Congress to “really work together” on cybersecurity legislation that would give the U.S. the “abilities to respond but more importantly to prevent” to cyberattacks.
He acknowledged there were difficult debates over “where national security begins and personal privacy begins,” but said by bringing Silicon Valley into the fold, lawmakers may be able to forge ahead on legislation.
“I’ve been in more meeting on cyber than any other issue in my time in the Congress, with less accomplished than any other, and it’s time we sat down together,” McCain said.