A US federal appeals court rejected a lawsuit against US President George W Bush's secret domestic wiretapping programme for monitoring terrorist activities, after determining the plaintiffs did not have the right to sue.
The 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Ohio ruled 2-1 to overturn a lower court decision in August 2006 that ordered the Bush administration to stop the surveillance of phone calls to monitor suspected terrorists without court approval.
But the appeals court determined that the plaintiffs in the suit did not have the "standing to litigate" because they could not show that they were targets of the programme.
"Because we cannot find that any of the plaintiffs have standing for any of their claims, we must vacate the district court's order and remand for dismissal of the entire action," the court said in its majority opinion posted online.<b1>
The case was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union against the National Security Agency after the clandestine monitoring of suspicious phone calls made to or from the US and locations overseas was revealed in a newspaper article.
Bush issued an executive order after the September 11 terror attacks to establish the programme and was annoyed once it came out in the press. He argued that it had been a useful tool for preventing terrorist attacks.
The lower court had ruled that the programme violated a 1978 law requiring the government obtain warrants with secret court oversight before tapping phone lines. In January, Bush reluctantly placed the programme under the oversight of a special court.