A mountain of oncesecret Nixon papers open for public viewing

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After a 12-year battle, a mountain of White House papers that former President Richard Nixon once thought he could keep secret will be opened to public inspection today. The National Archives, which holds some 40 million pages of Nixonia as well as thousands of hours of the infamous White House tapes, is releasing about 2 million of these pages.

The files selected ``reflect the diverse activities of the President and his staff,'' chief Nixon archivist James Hastings told reporters.

According to Mr. Hastings, none of the material is expected to shed new light on Watergate, the scandal that toppled Mr. Nixon in 1974.

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Yet the former President, with the support of former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger and other former aides, battled in the courts for control of the papers. He lost a key United States Supreme Court test in 1977 when the court upheld a 1974 act of Congress depriving Nixon of control of the papers.

Nixon's lawyers say he is still determined to challenge the legality of making the rest of his papers public but has decided to allow these presumably less controversial doucuments to be shown.

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