Legendary Entertainer Later Backs Off, Says U.S. 'Greatest Country In The World'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Maybe he should have left his mouth in San Francisco.

Legendary crooner Tony Bennett, 85, appeared on Howard Stern’s Sirius XM show on Monday night to promote his upcoming release “Duets II.” The conversation took a bizarre turn after Stern asked Bennett, a veteran of World War II, how the United States should deal with the terrorists who were responsible for destroying the World Trade Center.

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Bennett: “Are we the terrorists or are they the terrorists? Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Stern: “They are the ones who started it — flying that plane into the World Trade Center. What do you do?”

Bennett:  “I don’t know about that.”

Stern: “Are you one of those conspiracy guys who actually thinks they didn’t fly the plane…that the government started it?”

Bennett: “They flew the plane in but we caused it.”

Stern: “Why?”

Bennett: “Because we were bombing them and they told us to stop.”

Bennett then went on to describe an encounter with President George W. Bush at the Kennedy Center in 2005 where Bennett was being honored. Regarding the war in Iraq, “He told me personally that night that, he said, ‘I think I made a mistake,'” said Bennett.

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Bennett told Stern he believed that the president made the revelation because “he had a special liking to me.”

Late Tuesday afternoon, Bennett released a statement saying: “I am sorry if my statements suggested anything other than an expression of my love for my country, my hope for humanity, and my desire for peace throughout the world.

He later added, “I was accused of not loving America, and it’s the greatest country in the world.”

Bennett wanted to make sure not to overshadow his granddaughter’s art show on Tuesday night in SoHo, and when CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis talked to her all she would say is that he has a history of strong opinions.

“My grandfather’s a pacifist, he’s anti-war,” Kelsey Bennett said.

But Tony Bennett has hurt the feelings of Maureen and Al Santora of Astoria, Queens. They live just blocks from where Bennett was born and lost their son Christopher, a firefighter, on 9/11.

“It’s upsetting because it brings up the issue again,” Al Santora said.

“He’s one of ours and it saddens me that he’s talking in this crazy manner,” Maureen Santora added.

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