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It's called the "Biographic Register." And it is at the heart of a new struggle over the US Central Intelligence Agency. In a little-noticed victory, civil libertarians won an appeals court decision that the State Department can no longer withhold its Biographic Register from public circulation.

Insiders worry that the register can be tapped to identify CIA officers using State positions as cover. The register provides employment background of persons working on foreign affairs in federal agencies. It has been withheld since 1974 under an exemption to the Freedom of Information Act. State has less than a week to appeal the ruling.

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The register was originally withheld to thwart left-wing publications which had begun publishing the names of CIA agents working under cover.

Historians claim they need the register to do their research.m

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