The Nation: The Plumbers' Plain

Not long after President Nixon created his special investigations unit in June 1971 to plug "leaks" of classified information, one of the group's members, in a wry acknowledgement of his assignment, tacked up a sign on his door: PLUMBER. Thus the appellation "plumbers" came into being, and eventually such nefarious activities as tapping telephones, burglarizing offices and fabricating State Department cables came to be known as the work of the "plumbers."

Genuine plumbers are not amused. Last summer a Washington-based local of the 325,000-member United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters fired off an indignant letter to the Washington Star-News complaining...

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