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U.S. Considering 'Proportional Response' to Sony Hack, White House Says

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The White House said Thursday that it considers the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment a “serious national security matter” and plans a “proportional response” once investigators determine who was responsible.

Sony took the unprecedented step of canceling the Christmas Day premiere of “The Interview" — a Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy about a fictional plot to kill the leader of North Korea — after hackers threatened attacks on theaters that showed it.

A senior U.S. official told NBC News on Wednesday that a federal investigation had concluded that North Korea was responsible for the hacking. The White House would not say so publicly on Thursday.

“This is something that’s being treated as a serious national security matter,” said Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary.

Earnest would not speculate on what the American response might be if the United States determines that North Korea is responsible. He also suggested that the response would not be made public. He did not rule out an attack on North Korean computers.

Some Hollywood stars, including Ben Stiller, Steve Carell and Rob Lowe, denounced Sony’s decision to pull the picture. Obama administration officials on Thursday defended the right of the producers to make the movie.

“People in this country have the right to produce all sorts of fictional accounts of things that we do not attempt to restrain in any way,” Jeh Johnson, the secretary of homeland security, said on “Andrea Mitchell Reports” on MSNBC.

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— Erin McClam

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