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Senator Calls on White House to Host Showing of Pulled Sony Film

Vitter wants the White House to hold a screening of the Sony film "The Interview." (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

One senator wants President Barack Obama to invite members of Congress to the White House for a screening of "The Interview."  

That's the James Franco and Seth Rogen comedy from Sony Pictures Entertainment that the studio pulled after a hacking which the FBI says North Korea is responsible for. The movie plot centers on an effort to kill North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.  

In a Dec. 19 letter to Obama, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said the president should host an event to show the movie when the 114th Congress convenes in January.  

Sony called off the release amid threats, but Obama said at his end-of-year news conference, "I think they made a mistake" in doing so.  

"We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States. Because if somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they start doing when they see a documentary that they don’t like, or news reports that they don't like," Obama said. "Or even worse, imagine if producers and distributors and others start engaging in self-censorship because they don’t want to offend the sensibilities of somebody whose sensibilities probably need to be offended."  

Now, Vitter wants Obama to bring together members of Congress for a special screening of the film, as a way of showing strength to the regime of Kim Jong Un.  

"The policy of rewarding terrorists, authoritarianism, and cruelty with concessions should not be the legacy we pursue," Vitter wrote in his letter. "Therefore, I ask that you host a screening of comedy film 'The Interview' for Members of Congress in the White House the week of January 5th, to be followed by a serious discussion of the strong, substantive retaliatory measures we plan to take as a nation against cyber attacks."  

The text of Vitter's full letter, which criticizes the Obama administration's handling of a variety of foreign policy challenges, appears below:

President Obama: Today, the Federal Bureau of Investigation acknowledged that North Korea was behind the November “hack” of Sony Pictures, which has led to serious business impacts. The policy of rewarding terrorists, authoritarianism, and cruelty with concessions should not be the legacy we pursue. Therefore, I ask that you host a screening of comedy film “The Interview” for Members of Congress in the White House the week of January 5th, to be followed by a serious discussion of the strong, substantive retaliatory measures we plan to take as a nation against cyber attacks. Given the success of having their demands met, North Korea and other rogue actors are likely to be emboldened. They will be encouraged to ramp up anti-US internet terrorism, which is viewed as a safer, affordable, and now effective method of making demands. A strong message needs to be delivered to reassure the American people and U.S. businesses that we will not bend to the will of bad actors, whether they are hackers, terrorist, state-sponsors of terrorism, or nation states. Such strong action is particularly needed because the United States is seeing the effects in this scenario of your Administration’s past weak policies, which have irreversible outcomes. Just two of the most obvious examples of the bad precedents set by your Administration are: The transfer of five high-threat Taliban terrorists, the so-called “Taliban Dream Team,” out of Guantanamo in exchange for a U.S. soldier detained by the enemy in the Afghan theatre. In 2013, Senator Reid and your Administration restricted debate on the Defense Authorization bill, and the Senate was not able to incorporate previous year’s certification restrictions on the transfer of Guantanamo detainees. With the exclusion of those previous provisions of law, your Administration carried out a transfer previously deemed “high risk” and as a “senior Taliban official who served in multiple leadership roles” by your own intelligence estimates. The freeing of the last of "Cuban Five". This week your Administration announced a series of changes to Cuba policy, pursuant to a deal with dictator Raul Castro for the release American hostages. The policy changes were in addition to a prisoner exchange, freeing three Cuban spies who had been imprisoned in the United States. The release of these spies who are connected with the murder of U.S. citizens in the 1990’s, sets a new standard for the price your administration is willing to pay. A strong message needs to be delivered to reassure the American people and U.S. businesses that we will not bend to the will of bad actors, whether they are hackers, terrorist, state-sponsors of terrorism, or nation states. The actions of the American government must step up to demonstrate that rogue actors across the world will not be rewarded for bad behavior. Sincerely, David Vitter United States Senate
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