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In a legal battle that has been running almost since Watergate, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the National Archives must turn over about 820 hours of Richard Nixon's White House tapes to the estate of the late president. These tapes have never been made public.

The three-judge panel's unanimous ruling covers all of Nixon's recorded musings on personal matters and is based on a Supreme Court decision from 1977.

John Taylor, who runs the Nixon library in Yorba Linda, Calif., said the ruling affirms "the president's right to have personal matters kept personal."

The National Archives had fought to hold on to the material by arguing that because private and historically significant matters are mixed together on the recordings, the fragile tapes could be destroyed if personal segments were snipped out to be sent to the Nixon Library & Birthplace.

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