US deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz was visibly shaken as he fended off hecklers at Georgetown University during a speech Thursday.

The smooth-talking politician, who kept his cool under fire in Baghdad some days earlier, appeared ruffled and at one point snapped back at the hecklers.

"We hate your policies!" shouted one young woman, standing ten metres from Wolfowitz who went pale and clenched his jaw.

"Killing innocents is not the solution but rather the problem," she said.

"I have to (infer) you'd be happier if Saddam Hussein was still in power," he replied drily before recalling the regime's cruelties.

Deputy Defence Secretary Paul
Wolfowitz usually keeps his cool

"A lot of innocents were sacrificed and the alternative would have been far more brutal, there is no question in my mind."

Calm down

Two other students among the dozen that had lined up to speak to the man held up as the Bush administration mastermind of the Iraq war also attacked US policy there.

A visibly shaken Wolfowitz caught his breath to tell one of them, "You and I should both calm down."

He later said that the Iraq war was "not an ideological, but a moral issue."

"There is not much question in my mind about the morality of having gotten rid of this regime."