A judge has dismissed a civil lawsuit brought by ex-CIA agent Valerie Plame against Vice-President Dick Cheney and other Bush administration officials.
Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA agent was leaked to the press
Ms Plame accused them of conspiring to leak her identity, thus ruining her CIA career, in retaliation for her husband criticising their Iraq war policy.
US District Judge John Bates said Mr Cheney and the other officials had a right to respond to criticism.
Ms Plame was "very disappointed" and planned to appeal, her lawyer said.
She and her husband, former US ambassador Joseph Wilson, had sought financial damages for violation of their privacy rights.
As well as Mr Cheney, those named in the case were Karl Rove, a senior adviser to President George W Bush, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and former White House aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
Libby was convicted on perjury and obstruction of justice charges in March but Mr Bush intervened earlier this month to spare him from going to jail.
Judge Bates dismissed Ms Plame's case against all the officials on jurisdictional grounds.
WHAT IS CIA LEAK CASE ABOUT?
Libby was found guilty of lying to the FBI and a grand jury over revelations about CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity
Critics said the White House leaked Ms Plame's identity to undermine her husband, ex-ambassador Joseph Wilson
He had publicly cast doubt on the Bush administration's case for war in Iraq
The alleged cover-up, rather than the leak itself, was the subject of the Libby trial
"The alleged means by which defendants chose to rebut Mr Wilson's comments and attack his credibility may have been highly unsavoury," he said in his written ruling.
"But there can be no serious dispute that the act of rebutting public criticism... by speaking with members of the press is within the scope of defendants' duties."
A lawyer for Libby told the Associated Press news agency that it was "a big relief" to have the civil case brought by Ms Plame dismissed.
No-one has been charged with leaking Ms Plame's identity. It can be a crime to reveal the identity of an undercover CIA agent.
Libby was found to have lied to investigators about conversations where he mentioned Ms Plame but he was not convicted of having directly leaked her identity.