WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court rejected a challenge Tuesday to the Bush administration's domestic spying program.
The justices' decision, issued without comment, is the latest setback to legal efforts to force disclosure of details of the warrantless wiretapping that began after the Sept. 11 attacks.
The American Civil Liberties Union wanted the court to allow a lawsuit by the group and individuals over the wiretapping program. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the suit, saying the plaintiffs could not prove their communications had been monitored.
The government has refused to turn over information about the closely guarded program that could reveal who has been under surveillance.
ACLU legal director Steven R. Shapiro has said his group is in a "Catch-22" because the government says the identities of people whose communications have been intercepted is secret. But only people who know they have been wiretapped can sue over the program, Shapiro has said.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year ruled against an Islamic charity that also challenged program, concluding that a key piece of evidence is protected as a state secret.
In that case, the Oregon-based U.S. arm of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation alleged the National Security Agency illegally listened to its calls. The charity had wanted to introduce as evidence a top-secret call log it received mistakenly from the Treasury Department.
A separate lawsuit against telecommunications companies that have cooperated with the government is pending in the San Francisco-based appeals court. A U.S. district court also is examining whether the warrantless surveillance of people in the United States violates the law that regulates the wiretapping of suspected terrorists and requires the approval of a secret court.
The case is ACLU v. NSA, 07-468.