John Bellinger

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Person.png John Bellinger  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(spook, lawyer)
John Bellinger.jpg
Alma materSt. Albans School, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs/Princeton, Harvard Law School
Member ofAmerican Council on Germany/Young Leaders/1997, British-American Project, Council on Foreign Relations/Experts, Council on Foreign Relations/Members, Ditchley/US, The American Academy in Berlin/Distinguished Visitors
Interests • international law
• 911
A spook/lawyer representing the more patient and more PR-friendly approach to Empire

John B. Bellinger III is an American lawyer who was the Legal Adviser for the U.S. Department of State and the National Security Council during the George W. Bush administration. He is now a partner at the Washington, D.C. law firm Arnold & Porter,and Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Early Career

Bellinger was Special Assistant to CIA director William Webster (1988–1991). From 1991 to 1995, he practiced law with Wilmer Cutler & Pickering in Washington, D.C. In 1995-96, he was General Counsel to the Commission on the Roles and Capabilities of the U.S. intelligence community, and Counsel to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (1996).

He was Counsel for National Security Matters in the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice from 1997 to 2001.

National Security Council

In February 2001, Bellinger was appointed as Senior Associate Counsel to the President and Legal Adviser to the National Security Council at the White House, where he was principal lawyer for National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and the NSC staff. He was in the White House Situation Room on 9/11 and later was the primary lawyer for the White House in dealing with the 9/11 Commission. He was one of the drafters of the legislation that created the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

At the White House, Bellinger was considered reliatively 'moderate' and often clashed with more hardline lawyers in the administration over international law and the Administration's detention policies, especially over the treatment of detainees. After 9/11, Bellinger and Rice were excluded by other officials in the administration from the preparation of President Bush's order establishing military commissions.

Legal Advisor to the State Department

He became Legal Adviser of the State Department in April 2005, and continued to be a member of Rice's inner circle. As Legal Adviser, Bellinger was the principal adviser on all domestic and international law matters to the Department of State, the Foreign Service, and the diplomatic and consular posts abroad. He was also the principal adviser on legal matters relating to the conduct of foreign relations to other agencies and, through the Secretary of State, to the President and the National Security Council.

Darfur operation

Bellinger has been credited with leading the Bush administration's shift in tactic towards the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the administration's second term after President Bush agreed to the UN referral of the alleged genocide in Darfur (Sudan) to the ICC in March 2005, a part of the U.S. strategy to regime change and/or break up Sudan, one of the "7 countries in 5 years" targeted as first priority for conquest. The claims of genocide during the conflict in Darfur was an extensive CIA and media psychological operation to put pressure on the Sudanese government, similar to campaigns in Syria a few years later etc.[citation needed]


In 2009, after leaving the State Department, Bellinger joined the white shoe Washington, D.C. law firm of Arnold & Porter, where he is a partner in the firm's public international law and national security law practices. He is also an Adjunct Senior Fellow in International and National Security Law at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he directed a program on international justice[1]. He speaks and writes regularly on international law issues. He is a senior contributor to Lawfare, a national security law blog.

Bellinger was critical of the PR presentation of the Obama administration's heavy reliance on drone strikes to kill terrorists. In testimony before Congress in 2012, he urged the Obama administration to do more to explain the legality of targeted killings and to make its drone program more transparent.[2]

Bellinger is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Law Institute, the American Council on Germany, and the British-American Project.


Event Participated in

Clade X15 May 201815 May 2018A pandemic/biowarfare preparation exercise by Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Held May 2018.
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