John Bellinger’s Hat is White — David Addington’s is Soulless Black


In the internal White House battles over the Geneva conventions, enemy combatant policies, extraordinary rendition, and torture — which have been viciously waged between various Bush administration officials against other colleagues in the same White House — there are a few heroes who fought the “darkness at noon” solutions advocated by Vice President Cheney’s team.
I am writing a significant, lengthy piece right now on a bit of this history as I think that a giant, high beam spotlight should blare down on Cheney’s chief of staff, David Addington, for the particularly insidious role that he has played over the last six years in sabotaging America’s norms and ethics as well as system of checks and balances in government.
There are a number of heroes in my book including former Department of Defense and Department of State lawyer Matthew Waxman, who tried to stand up to Addington and his like-minded torture obsessives, and State Department Senior Legal Adviser John Bellinger who has worked vigorously to walk America away from the so-called “war paradigm” and towards a “rule of law” framework again. In fact, Bellinger is an advocate of numerous international law frameworks — including ratification of the Law of the Sea Convention.

I hate saying good things about Bellinger because I fear it will get him in trouble with the censors in the White House. But Bellinger is on the right side, and it must be said repeatedly.
I mention this because I just ran across an interesting and thoughtful blog, Dorf on Law that in a review of Jack Goldsmith’s The Terror Presidency, Jamison Colburn mischaracterizes Bellinger and tosses him with the likes of Addington. This couldn’t be more incorrect.
Colburn writes:

Goldsmith is the Henry Shattuck Professor at Harvard now. He made his academic name cautioning against “universal jurisdiction” and the application of international law in U.S. courts while teaching at Chicago. That was before his stint in the Bush Administration. It took Goldsmith’s determination to pull the torture opinions and revise them because apparently there were many in the administration who adamantly opposed him and wanted the cover OLC opinions provide. (David Addington, John Bellinger, and some others are referenced throughout the book for their especially idiotic, chauvinistic, and dangerous views.) (Goldsmith’s words, not mine.)

I understand the writer’s general critique of the administration and agree with much of what he writes — but his target should be Addington, not Bellinger. In fact, Goldsmith says nothing at all about Bellinger along the lines that Colburn says.
Goldsmith’s only references to John Bellinger are that he strongly opposed David Addington’s efforts. On page on 124, Goldsmith writes that Bellinger was one of the people, along with Paul Clement, urging the White House to try and cultivate Congressional support for “War on Terror” policies. Bellinger was shot down in those efforts, and then on page 126, Goldsmith writes:

‘They do not have a vote,’ was how [Addington] would invariably respond when someone — usually John Bellinger — would object to a policy (or lack of one) by invoking allied protestations.

That kind of response is classic Addington — and is antithetical to everything Bellinger is about.
I share this not to harrass or impugn Jamison Colburn. As I’ve written a great deal about Bellinger’s important work in trying to walk this country back to some kind of legal sanity, while fighting Cheney’s team inside the White House, I wanted to make sure that there was a record that Bellinger and Addington are total opposites on the topics that Colburn considers them the same.
— Steve Clemons


14 comments on “John Bellinger’s Hat is White — David Addington’s is Soulless Black

  1. Dandy's says:

    For the life of me, I have no idea how David Addington can be referred to as “brilliant.”
    He can comb his hair, trim his beard, and dress in a three piece suit, but the words, and logic of that man bespeak insanity.
    Perhaps we should start LISTENING to what he’s saying about the Constitution, and torture, before we agree he’s competent.
    Torture is never ever an option, ever. When did we, as enlightened educated Americans, accept it as such? We allow FEAR, as propagated by men like Addington, to direct us?
    When did we start accepting torture, and destruction of the Constitution, as rational thought, and policy?


  2. Michael Froomkin says:

    Bellinger refused to say that the US would necessarily object to a foreign power waterboarding a US citizens. See,,2205187,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=networkfront
    Not much a white hat, is he?


  3. PissedOffAmerican says:

    This country is history. My suggestion is to stock up with supplies, because we are probably going to need them in the near future, and take care of our immediate circles of friends and family. Our fucking government has sold us out, and theres not a God damned thing we can do about it. And Steve Clemons and this Scott Paul clown are so full of Kool-Aid that it has drowned their brain cells.


  4. Carroll says:

    The Great Debate?
    Edwards and Biden and Dennis won the night as far as I am concerned.


  5. Carroll says:

    Posted by Sandy at September 26, 2007 03:31 PM
    Posted by DonS at September 26, 2007 04:14 PM
    My cable was out earlier but I got it back just in time to hear Hillary just tell the second biggest lie of her life.
    She was asked by Russet if Israel would be justified in attacking Iran if they felt threatened.
    She hedged the question and started talking about Israel attacking Syria BECAUSE SYRIA HAS NUCLEAR FACILITIES. But then she stuttered around on how the “intelligence” was there to prove it…but it was “classified”.
    Russert kept trying to make her answer the Israel-Iran quesiton but she refused to.
    The audience boobed her for the most part, there were a few claps, no doubt AIPAC’ers.
    According to everything I have read on the Syria deal by people recongized as in positions to know, no one believes Syria was building a nuke facility. Today even the Israeli papers said it was a “chemical” facility and N Korea had sold some chemicals to Syria for rockets. If it had been secret nuke plants and Israel or Hillary had the “satellite image” proof they claim we would be seeing it splashed all over the press by now.
    But yet Hillary just point blank, in front of the entire world, lied about it…and claimed that she knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that the Syria was trying to build nuke faculitles and the intelligence on it was right and Israel was justified.
    Now how would Hillary even have access to that “classified” intelligence from Israel that our CIA says they don’t have any proof of or knowledge of? According to Col Lang the “pictures’ went from Israel to Steven Hadly who has not as far as known shared them with even the pentagon or state department. Now who did Hillary get to see that “proof” when no one else has?…When she couldn’t even get her letter of inguiry about Iraq planning answered by the pentagon last month?
    I use to admire and support Hillary but she has become an ambition whore and totally corrupt lying bitch. And THAT LIE just confirmed it.
    Do Not vote for this woman. She is full of herself and over the edge, she think the polls show she has the WH in the bag. If she is this “I don’t give a shit what people think, this is how it’s going to be when I am Queen Rat”..imagine what she will be like if she does get the WH.


  6. Mary says:

    Bellinger has a white hat? Really – does he borrow it from Rice after Labor Day when she packs the matching shoes and purse in tissue?
    Support for torture and war crimes by loyal Bushies hasn’t been an either-or situation (because none have ever just stood up and said we are torturing and kidnapping people in violation of law and I’m resigning because of it). Instead, it’s been a sliding scale of tsk tskerie. The fact that Addington pushed Cheney’s and Bush’s torture points and dismissal of law ruthlessly and is probably a “more culpable” party than some others doesn’t make everyone else a fairy princess by comparison.
    When has Bellinger ever taken a principaled public stand and made truthful representations about the status of torture, kidnap, legal violations and run amok disregard and criminal contempt for helpless persons caught up in the webs spun by our DOJ, DOD and DOS?
    Whether he had tiffs and catfights with Addington – or maybe even took the Democratic route and sent a “strongly worded internal letter” or not counts for pretty much nothing. Public actions do count and on these issues, his public actions IMO have not been those of a credible man with integrity.
    For example, here
    he spins the tale that the Bush administration did not pander out the “the concept of ‘unlawful enemy combatants’ to avoid providing protections under the Geneva Conventions to al Qaida and Taliban detainees because it was wanting to engage in acts that would be considered violent and criminal under the War Crimes Act.
    That’s bull and he knows it. When Gonzales took the competing Powell and Dep fka Justice options to Bush very early on, Gonzales specifically advised Bush that the unlawful enemy combatant approach had appeal because it gave them room in the future and cover for the things already done – – to avoid application of the War Crimes Act. That information has been out forever. The fact that the media was allowed to focus on the references to the “quaint” provisions of the Geneva Conventions while it completely ignored the admissions that the President had done and was going to be doing things to persons who had been rendered helpless – things that that would be War Crimes under a successor administration not peopled by loyal Bushies – unless the President used the cover of the “unlawful enemy combatant” construct doesn’t mean that those in State – including Bellinger – can pretend even now that this wasn’t a factor and a primary factor.
    Bellinger has never sold any story other than the one where the President only does humane things and only authorizes humane things and Taguba is wrong and of course Abu Ghraib was just abberrent and all the people at GITMO were the worst of the worst and Maher Arar absolutely should have been sent by Larry Thompson to be tortured in Syria except we don’t call it torture when we have a little side agreement based on winks and nudges.
    If you want to spin that he hasn’t put his soul in the same circle as Addington per Dante’s descriptions, fine, but it’s pretense to put forth that he has been one of the good guys.
    There have been almost no good guys anywhere to be seen, although there has been enough desparate search for someone to qualify that some very dubious characters make many lists. A Bruce Fein has been someone who is wildly conservative and a decent human being who has shown intestrity.
    But Bellinger – who has repeatedly claimed that the US and Bush are not committing war crimes, who has poo poo’ed everything from torture to rendition flights and kidnappings to the need for proof to support detentions to human trafficking aspects of buying people from warlords and criminals – – well, I have to at least say that IMO, that’s not an admirable man. IMO – Not a good man. IMO – Not a truthful man. IMO – Not a trustworthy man.
    Apparently your miles vary, but the justification that he must be great bc he isn’t “as bad as” Addington can’t even meet the technical standard of faint praise.
    Feint praise perhaps.


  7. Linda says:

    Will you also include Comey and Goldsmith at DOJ as heroes? Or do only people at State and DOD qualify?


  8. downtown says:

    The surrender of Democrats on this amendment will be interpreted by the Bush / Cheney war machine as an implicit endorsement for military action against Iran. HRC once again outed herself as a puppet of the neocons. NY’s senior Senator also manifested his loyalty to that reprehensible group. Obama is becoming quite adept at not having to account for any “hard votes”.


  9. DonS says:

    Kyle-Lieberman amendment?
    Of what possible justification is this except more sabre rattling. Pandering? To who, except the Israel lobby?
    A “diplomatic” manuver? Please. As if U.S. diplomacy under this president had any credibility left.
    Just a harmless no brainer for the folks back home? Get a clue: the folks back home are sick of this Congress and its republican and democratic flunkies.
    Who is it after all the the dem Senate and House leadership represent and work for anyway? It seems like Joe Lieberman continues to lead them around by the nose. Shame.
    Well I guess we can say old Harry’s not soft on terror. What a joke.


  10. Sandy says:

    “I might have to quit following this insanity. It’s too sick to keep vicariously tut,tuting on all this depravity while a nation of 300 million people keep allowing it to happen”
    I’ve thought the same thing lately myself, Carroll. Time to ask what it is we are doing to ourselves and our consciousness and spirit(s) by focusing on these criminals and their deeds.
    Obviously nothing is going to stop them now.
    Might as well enjoy a little oblivion while we still can.
    The whole world is about to change.
    And, oh, btw, Steve, Bush has wanted it every bit as much as Cheney….all along. $$$$ Carlyle. $$$$ Halliburton.
    P O W E R


  11. Sandy says:

    Well, Nancy and Harry have set us up for bombing Iran. The Kyle-Lieberman Amendment passed today — McCain and Obama abstained. Presidential, eh? Hillary voted for it. There you have it.
    Oh, and btw:
    September 26, 2007
    Why Does Norman Podhoretz Hate America?
    by Michael Scheuer
    World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism
    Norman Podhoretz
    Doubleday, 2007 240 pp.
    Norman Podhoretz’s new book, World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism, is a hate-filled, anti-American book of the first order. Podhoretz hates every American who does not support the neoconservatives’ views, the foreign policy they have devised, and the military and national security disasters to which they are leading America. Patrick Buchanan, Andrew J. Bacevich, Sir John Keegan, Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Samuel Huntington, Francis Fukuyama, and many others are all targets of Podhoretz. These men are variously characterized as anti-Semites, isolationists, recanters from the true creed, or simply as small men who fear the neoconservative utopia is about to arrive, discredit their views, and cost them their jobs or prestige. Podhoretz is particularly vicious toward Buchanan because he knows that Buchanan sees through the neoconservative fantasy with the most unrelenting acuity. Buchanan’s frank voice and non-interventionism – not isolationism – are genuinely American characteristics, so Podhoretz must go all out to discredit Buchanan as an anti-Semite, lest Americans listen to Buchanan’s advice not to get their children killed fighting other peoples’ wars, be they wars for Israelis or Muslims or anyone else.
    And who are the heroes of the story? Why, Podhoretz and the familiar roster of the only real Americans and Israel-firsters, of course: Paul Wolfowitz, R. James Woolsey, Charles Krauthammer, Douglas Feith, Victor Davis Hanson, John R. Bolton, Joseph Lieberman, Richard Perle, Robert Kagan, Max Boot, Steve Emerson, Daniel Pipes, Michael Rubin, Michael Ledeen, Kenneth Adelman, Frank Gaffney, and a few others who have battled so long and hard to ensure that America fights an endless war against Muslims in Israel’s defense. Podhoretz and his chums are the men responsible for the lethal mess America now faces in the Muslim world, and they have also done more than any other group – Hamas and Hezbollah included – to undermine Israel’s long-term security. In short, the influence and arrogance of this gang has been an unmitigated and accelerating disaster for the two nations they claim to love most….” (clip)


  12. Carroll says:

    Nice guy. But knives cut paper.
    The Bush administration doubled the number of top officials who qualify for protection, from 26 to 54, adding the White House chief of staff and homeland security advisers, among others.
    The Secret Service historically protects only the president and vice president, their families, former presidents, visiting foreign heads of state and government and major presidential and vice presidential candidates and their spouses.
    The agency is planning to hire and train 103 new agents to protect President Bush when he leaves office on Jan. 20, 2009.
    Bush is entitled to 10 years of Secret Service protection. Clinton was the last president to receive life time protection.
    It’s easy to think you are invincible and above the law when you work in the WH. But except for Bush, everyone including Cheney and Addington, will lose their SS protection in 2009. By then the public should be even more pissed off because there is no sign of the dems of anyone else actually putting a halt to the maddness that is our government.
    But maybe we will be fair and just torture them.
    What was the Yoo/Addington/Cheney torture rule?…torture allowed up to, but not pass the point of organ failure?
    And who in the WH, pentagon or military is responsible for this:
    “The Washington Post’s revelation of a ‘baiting’ operation by US snipers raises the possibility that it may have involved war crimes, according to Raw Story. The snipers put out material that could be used to make weapons, and then killed anyone who tried to pick it up. The problem is that Iraqis are extremely poor and you couldn’t know why they were picking it up (most of the country’s scrap metal is being sold off to China). Raw Story writes, ‘The baiting program should be rigorously examined, says Eugene Fidell, the president of the National Institute of Military Justice, because it raises frightening possibilities. “In a country that is awash in armaments and magazines and implements of war,” he said, “if every time somebody picked up something that was potentially useful as a weapon, you might as well ask every Iraqi to walk around with a target on his back.”
    I might have to quit following this insanity. It’s too sick to keep vicariously tut,tuting on all this depravity while a nation of 300 million people keep allowing it to happen.


  13. pauline says:

    “Cheney Lawyer Is Frothing Lunatic” 9/4/07
    “If there’s a villain in Jack Goldsmith’s account of his time in the Justice Department, it’s David Addington, Dick Cheney’s legal alter ego. Addington, who became the vice president’s chief of staff after Scooter Libby resigned following his indictment, served as Cheney’s eyes and ears in the legal battles within the administration over warrantless surveillance, coercive interrogations and indefinite detentions. His style of argument, as recounted by Goldsmith, isn’t exactly a subtle one. ‘
    more at —


  14. John Shreffler says:

    “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate….leads to suffering.” ―Yoda
    For Grand Moff Addington.


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