A US judge has dismissed a former CIA operative's lawsuit against senior Bush administration officials, eliminating one of the last court cases over the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity.
Plame, the wife of former ambassador Joseph Wilson, had accused Dick Cheney, the vice-president, and others of conspiring to leak her identity in 2003.
She said that violated her privacy and was illegal retribution for her husband's criticism of the administration's Iraq war policy.
US District Judge John Bates dismissed the case on Thursday on jurisdictional grounds and said he would not express an opinion on the US constitutional arguments.
Bates dismissed the case against all defendants: Cheney, White House political adviser Karl Rove, former White House aide I Lewis "Scooter" Libby and Richard Armitage, a former deputy secretary of state.
Leaked to media
Plame's identity was revealed in a syndicated newspaper column in 2003, shortly after Wilson began criticising the administration's march to war in Iraq.
Armitage and Rove were the sources for that article, which touched off a lengthy leak investigation.
Nobody was charged with leaking but Libby was convicted of lying and obstructing the investigation.
George Bush, the US president, commuted Libby's 2 1/2-year prison term before the former aide served any time.
While Bates did not address the constitutional questions, he seemed to agree with administration officials who said they were acting within their job duties.
Plame had argued that what they did was illegal and outside the scope of their government jobs.
"The alleged means by which defendants chose to rebut Mr Wilson's comments and attack his credibility may have been highly unsavoury," Bates wrote.
"But there can be no serious dispute that the act of rebutting public criticism, such as that levied by Mr Wilson against the Bush administration's handling of pre-war foreign intelligence, by speaking with members of the press is within the scope of defendants' duties as high-level executive branch officials."
Plame's lawyers said they would appeal the decision.