Amid the flurry of writing about the White Paper’s approach to “imminence” – an important conversation, to be sure – little attention has been paid to a paragraph in the White Paper that seems to establish new parameters for the geographic scope of the U.S. conflict with al Qaeda (AQ). The White Paper states that if an operation against an American senior operational leader of AQ or associated forces “were to occur in a location where al-Qa’ida or an associated force has a significant and organized presence and from which al-Qa’ida or an associated force, including its senior operational leaders, plan attacks against U.S. persons and interests, the operation would be part of the non-international armed conflict between the United States and al-Qa’ida . . . .”

Ashley S. Deeks, Does the White Paper Take a New Approach to the Geography of Conflict?, Lawfare (February 7, 2013).