Tony Bennett has walked back controversial remarks he made on Monday suggesting that America "caused" the 9/11 terror attacks, saying in a written statement and in an appearance on "The View" that there is "no excuse for terrorism."
The 85-year-old crooner slipped on the touchy subject during an interview on Howard Stern's radio show. After Bennett asked, "Are we the terrorists or are they the terrorists?" during a discussion on the wider war on terrorism, Stern answered that the extremists "started it" on Sept. 11, 2001.
Bennett responded, "They flew the plane in, but we caused it. Because we were bombing them and they told us to stop. They said what are you doing? And they came on stronger. And come on -- we're going to have to retaliate. No, no, no. They said give them four times as much."
The negative response to these sentiments -- countless online commenters, an editorial in the NY Daily News -- was a rare bad day of press for the beloved singer of "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," currently promoting his latest duets album.
He quickly took to Facebook to clarify his comments and in the process explained how his service in World War II helped to shape him as a pacifist:
I am so grateful to be an American and as a World War II veteran, I was proud to fight to protect our values, which have made America the greatest country on the planet.
There is simply no excuse for terrorism and the murder of the nearly 3,000 innocent victims of the 9/11 attacks on our country.
My life experiences - ranging from the Battle of the Bulge to marching with Martin Luther King - made me a life-long humanist and pacifist, and reinforced my belief that violence begets violence and that war is the lowest form of human behavior.
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.
On Wednesday, Bennett appeared on "The View" and was asked by host Barbara Walters about his comments. After reading the prepared statement, he received a warm round of applause from the audience when he added, "Nobody loves America more than I do."
Also in the Stern interview, Bennett claimed that former Pres. George Bush confided in him that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake. Read a full recap of Bennett's appearance on Stern here.