Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called the cyberattack suffered by the Colonial Pipeline Company “an act of war” and said the U.S. should respond by killing whoever was responsible for it.
“We ought to pass a law immediately that makes this kind of hacking subject to a death penalty, and the law should include a provision that the president, through a judicial process, should be able to order the killing of anybody overseas who’s doing this,” Mr. Gingrich, a Republican, said Monday on Fox News while speaking about the ransomware attack that recently disrupted the Colonial Pipeline system.
Mr. Gingrich, 77, who presided over the House during the Clinton administration, suggested others will feel similarly if the attack on Colonial leads to lingering disruptions.
“You get two or three weeks of the Northeast losing 45% of its oil and gas, and the American people are going to say, enough of this baloney, we want this country protected, we want it to be effective, we want it to be immediate and we are going to fire anybody who doesn’t get in line,” Mr. Gingrich said.
“It’s an act of war against the United States to do stuff like this,” he added. “We need to react to it as an act of war, and the American people are going to look at their representatives and their senators and they’re going it say, ‘If you don’t fix this, your successor will. Because I’m not going to put up with it, and I’m going to put up with you if you don’t fix it.’”
Colonial said Friday that it had taken its roughly 5,500-mile pipeline system offline as a precaution after being hit with a cyberattack involving a type of malicious software called ransomware.
The FBI has since attributed the ransomware attack to a particular actor known as DarkSide and said Monday that an investigation is ongoing.
Anne Neuberger, President Biden’s deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technologies, said Monday the intelligence community is examining if DarkSide has links to any nation-states.
Previously, the U.S. has utilized a host of available options when responding to state-sponsored cyberattacks, including imposing economic sanctions and pursuing criminal prosecutions, among others.
And, under the International Strategy for Cyberspace issued by the Obama administration in 2011, the U.S. military could potentially be deployed to counter such attacks if considered necessary.
“When warranted, the United States will respond to hostile acts in cyberspace as we would to any other threat to our country,” it reads in part. “We reserve the right to use all necessary means — diplomatic, informational, military, and economic — as appropriate and consistent with applicable international law, in order to defend our Nation, our allies, our partners and our interests.”