Secretary of State Colin Powell on Friday accused critics of politicizing the US' failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and said it is getting on his nerves.
"Yeah, it does get on your nerves when you see people trying to use this for straightforward political purposes," Powell said in a television interview.
"But, you know, that's the nature of this town in an election season," he said about the controversy over prewar intelligence on Iraq's weapons capability.
"But the president was absolutely right in what he did. And we were all standing behind him on this one," Powell told Fox Television's The Sean Hannity Show.
Claims that Iraq had stocks of chemical and biological weapons were the main reason Bush cited for taking America to war in Iraq, in which more than 500 US troops have died.
Bush is scrambling to limit the political fallout after the former chief US weapons hunter David Kay concluded that almost all the prewar intelligence about Iraq's suspected unconventional weapons was wrong.
Powell also defended President George W. Bush against what he called "scurrilous attacks" on Bush's military service.
The White House was on the defensive this week over Bush's record in the Texas Air National Guard, far from the battlefields of Vietnam, after Democrats accused him of going "AWOL."
It denied charges that Bush had shirked his military duties in the early 1970s, unlike Democratic presidential front-runner John Kerry, a decorated Vietnam veteran.
"It's very disturbing, and I wish this kind of attack wouldn't take place," said Powell, a retired US general and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"Let's get on to the issues of the day and not reach back for these kinds of scurrilous attacks, especially against a commander-in-chief who is fighting wars right now in active theaters in Afghanistan and in Iraq and on the global war against terrorism."