It would have been sensible for Mr. Fitzgerald to end his investigation after learning about Mr. Armitage. Instead, like many Washington special prosecutors before him, he pressed on, pursuing every tangent in the case.
- Washington Post Editorial, 3/7/07
Here the Washington Post practically transcribes the conservative talking point. Let's put this myth to rest. Fitzgerald did not come on board, discover that no prosecutable crime had occurred, and continued on -- Ahab-like -- until he finally landed an administration scalp.
The indictment dates the first instance of lying to the investigators on October 14, 2003. Patrick Fitzgerald was not appointed as Special Prosecutor until December 30, 2003. Investigators had already spent more than two months speaking with witnesses who contradicted Libby's account. The indictment lists nine instances where Libby spoke to others about Plame before he allegedly learnt of her identity from Russert. Of the multiple witnesses who gave these accounts, only Judith Miller would not have been available to investigators at the time Fitzgerald was appointed. The FBI could not have failed to suspect that Libby had told a whopper.
Fitzgerald didn't go on a hunt for administration blood. He did not lay perjury traps. He walked into an office and was immediately presented with some damning facts about a possible crime. He would have been derelict in his duty if he did not pursue this matter.