John B. Bellinger, III was the Legal Adviser to the Secretary of State of the United States. He was sworn in on April 8, 2005. He is 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 is 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.
Bellinger joined the Department of State in January 2005 as Senior Advisor to Secretary Condoleezza Rice, having previously co-directed her State Department transition team. From February 2001 to January 2005, Bellinger served as Senior Associate Counsel to the President and Legal Adviser to the National Security Council at the White House. As Legal Adviser, he provided legal advice to President George W. Bush, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, NSC Principals, and NSC and White House staff on a broad range of national security and international legal matters. He was one of the principal drafters of the 2004 law that created the Director of National Intelligence. During this time Bellinger's apprehension regarding the legality of proposed administration policy sometimes brought him into conflict with more conservative members of the administration on issues broadly relating to the President's powers during wartime, and specifically the use of torture by the government.
Bellinger served as Counsel for National Security Matters in the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice from 1997 to 2001. He served previously as Counsel to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (1996), as General Counsel to the Commission on the Roles and Capabilities of the U.S. Intelligence Community (1995-1996), and as Special Assistant to Director of Central Intelligence William Webster (1988-1991). From 1991 to 1995, he practiced law with Wilmer Cutler & Pickering in Washington, DC.