Tony Bennett must have left his good sense in San Francisco when he said that the U.S. caused the 9/11 attacks during an interview Monday on Howard Stern’s Sirius XM Radio show.
The surprising statement followed a fascinating exchange in which Bennett told Stern that President George W. Bush told him “I think I made a mistake,” in going to war with Iraq during a chat at the Kennedy Center Awards show in 2005. Stern then asked the 85-year-old singer how the U.S. should deal with terrorists.
“But who are the terrorists?” Bennett asked back. “They flew the plane in but we caused it because we were bombing them and they told us to stop,” said the World War II vet, who appeared on the show to promote his new album, “Duets II.”
Bennett, who was demoted in the U.S. Army for dining with a black friend while the force was segregated, became a pacifist after serving as a rifle infantryman on the front lines in Europe and helping to liberate a German concentration camp.
But his latest assertion struck a sour note.
“I think he made a mistake,” groaned retired FDNY Dep. Chief Jim Riches, 60, who lost his son, firefighter Jimmy Riches, 29, at Ground Zero.
“It’s a shame he said it,” continued Riches, who has Bennett’s “Greatest Hits” album, but will not be buying the new one.
To equate a “bunch of murderers” who hijacked planes and slaughtered civilians to U.S. soldiers doing their jobs “crosses the line,” said Riches, who lives in Dyker Heights.
But Riches has not given up on the Queens-born crooner. “I think he will retract that statement,” Riches predicted.