Actors Seth Rogen and James Franco could become the focus of national security discussions on Capitol Hill next year.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., expected to become chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Thursday that the recent hack of Sony Pictures systems and the company's decision to cancel the actors' latest film in response to cyber threats raise serious national security questions, and underscore the need for comprehensive cybersecurity legislation.
If elected committee chairman, McCain said he will create a subcommittee focused on cybersecurity issues.
"North Korea's cyber-attack on Sony Pictures is only the latest in a long and troubling list of attempts by malign actors to use cyber to undermine our economic and national security interests," McCain said in a statement.
One day earlier, Sony officials announced plans to cancel the Dec. 25 release of "The Interview" after threats from an anonymous hacker group, Guardians of Peace. The comedy depicts Rogen and Franco as bumbling would-be assassins targeting North Korea leader Kim Jung-un.
McCain called the company's decision "a troubling precedent that will only empower and embolden bad actors to use cyber as an offensive weapon even more aggressively in the future." He also took the opportunity to blast President Obama's "continuing failure to satisfactorily address the use of cyber weapons by our nation's enemies."
Congress is long overdue in addressing the issue, McCain said, adding that he hopes to make a new cybersecurity bill a top priority in the new Republican-controlled Senate.
U.S. officials this week told the Associated Press they have evidence connecting the Sony hacking to North Korea. But White House officials have declined to condemn the country or its leaders for involvement thus far.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.