[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/12/valerie-plame-wilson.jpg caption="Appeals court rejects Plame Wilson's case."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A federal appeals court in Washington has rebuffed an attempt by former CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson to sue top administration officials for the public disclosure of her intelligence job.
An attorney for Wilson and her husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, said an appeal is likely.
A three-judge panel rejected the attempt by the Wilsons to revive a lawsuit dismissed by a lower court. The Wilsons wanted to sue Vice President Richard Cheney; his former top aide, Lewis "Scooter" Libby; former White House advisor Karl Rove; and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.
"Because the Wilsons have failed to state constitutional ... claims for which relief may be granted and failed to exhaust their administrative remedies as required ... we affirm the judgment of the district court dismissing the Wilsons' amended complaint in its entirety," the court said.
The lawsuit stems from the politically charged investigation of a leak that revealed Valerie Wilson worked for the CIA, and that the disclosure was made by administration officials to undermine Wilson's criticisms of the White House case for invading Iraq.
A lawyer for the Wilsons, Melanie Sloan, told CNN the conservative majority on the court "basically seemed to find there is no remedy for what Cheney, Rove and Libby did."
She said the likely appeal may focus on what she called the "Catch-22" of being told to file suit under a law that does not apply to the perpetrators. "It's a pretty scary conclusion," Sloan said, "if this decision can stand, then government officials can be protected for sacrificing intelligence operatives and national security in the name of politics."
The Justice Department had no comment on the appeals court ruling.