The "White House Plumbers" Burglarize a Psychiatrist's Office to Find Files on Daniel Ellsberg
The White House Plumbers, sometimes simply called the Plumbers, were a covert White House Special Investigations Unit established July 24, 1971 during the presidency of Richard Nixon.
Its task was to stop the leaking of classified information to the news media. Its members branched into illegal activities working for the Committee to Re-elect the President, including the Watergate break-ins and the ensuing Watergate scandal.
The Plumbers' first task was the burglary of the office of Daniel Ellsberg's Los Angeles psychiatrist, Lewis J. Fielding, in an effort to uncover evidence to discredit Ellsberg. The operation was reportedly unsuccessful in finding Ellsberg's file and was so reported to the White House. However, Fielding himself stated the file was in his office, he found it on the floor on the morning after the burglary and quite clearly someone had gone through it. In a September 1971 conversation, Ehrlichman advised Nixon, “We had one little operation. It’s been aborted out in Los Angeles which, I think, is better that you don’t know about." Eventually, the case against Ellsberg was dismissed due to government misconduct.
Ellsberg was the first American prosecuted under the Espionage Act for passing along classified documents to newspapers, not to a foreign power, and he faced 115 years in prison had he been found guilty. Meanwhile, in an attempt to lessen the Pentagon Papers' impact, the Nixon administration spread false rumors that Ellsberg was homosexual, and had committed war crimes while in the Marines. White House "plumbers" were sent to burglarize Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office to obtain possibly damaging information about him.
September 3, 1971
The White House "plumbers" unit - named for their orders to plug leaks in the administration - burglarizes a psychiatrist's office to find files on Daniel Ellsberg, the former defense analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers.