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Chichakli v. Tillerson

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

February 13, 2018

Richard A. Chichakli, Appellant
Rex W. Tillerson, United States Secretary of State in his official capacity, et al., Appellees

          Argued December 1, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (No. 1:15-cv-01152)

          Kendall Turner, appointed by the court, argued the cause as amicus curiae in support of appellant. With her on the briefs was David W. DeBruin.

          Richard A. Chichakli, pro se, filed the briefs for appellant.

          Laura Myron, Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, argued the cause for appellees. With her on the brief were Jessie K. Liu, U.S. Attorney, and Douglas N. Letter, Attorney.

          Before: Kavanaugh and Wilkins, Circuit Judges, and Randolph, Senior Circuit Judge.



         Richard A. Chichakli, proceeding pro se, brought this lawsuit against the Office of Foreign Assets Control and the Department of State, alleging disclosures of his personal identifying information in violation of the Privacy Act. The District Court granted the motion to dismiss filed by the defendants, holding that Chichakli failed to state a claim under the Privacy Act because the government agencies had made the purported disclosures as a proper "routine use" of the information. On appeal, Chichakli filed his own briefs and adopted the arguments made in the briefs of court-appointed amicus.[1] For the reasons discussed below, we affirm.


         The International Emergency Economic Powers Act ("IEEPA") authorizes the President to regulate foreign commerce after identifying an "unusual and extraordinary threat" from abroad. See 50 U.S.C. § 1701. President George W. Bush issued an Executive Order pursuant to IEEPA on July 22, 2004, declaring a national emergency, blocking property of certain persons, and preventing importation of goods from Liberia. Exec. Order No. 13, 348, 69 Fed. Reg. 44, 885 (July 22, 2004). The Order specified that "all property and interests in property" of persons subject to sanctions would be "blocked and [were] not [to] be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in." Id. OFAC later determined that Chichakli was acting on behalf of an arms-trafficker named Viktor Bout, who had been named in the Order. In April 2005, OFAC issued a Blocking Notice listing Chichakli as a Specially Designated National ("SDN"), subject to the provisions of Executive Order 13, 348. See Chichakli v. Szubin, 546 F.3d 315, 316 (5th Cir. 2008).

         U.S. agencies released Chichakli's personal, identifying information pursuant to the Order. OFAC published Chichakli's name on its SDN list, which is "designed . . . to assist the public in complying with the various sanctions programs administered by OFAC." 70 Fed. Reg. 38, 255; 38, 334 (July 1, 2005); OFAC, Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List, This list included Chichakli's name, Social Security Number, date of birth, aliases, residential and business addresses, and country of origin. OFAC transmitted Chichakli's information to the Department of State, and the Department of State then transmitted the information to the United Nations to consider implementing similar sanctions. The United Nations identified Chichakli as subject to its sanctions regime, and it published his personal information, including his Social Security Number and his Australian Driver's License number, online. See J.A. 16; see also United Nations, Consolidated United Nations Security Council Sanctions List,

         Chichakli left the United States on May 2, 2005. J.A. 45, 74-75. He was extradited to the United States from Australia after being indicted by a Grand Jury in the United States in 2009. See United States v. Chichakli, No. S3:09-cr-1002, 2014 WL 5369424, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 16, 2014). He was sentenced to five years in prison and remained incarcerated until June 9, 2017. United States v. Bout, 651 Fed.App'x 62, 63 (2d Cir. 2016); Judgment, United States v. Chichakli, No. S3:09-cr-1002-02, at 3 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 9, 2014).

         Chichakli challenged OFAC's Blocking Notice listing him as an SDN and lost in the Fifth Circuit. Szubin, 546 F.3d at 316. He tried to bring a similar claim in the District of Columbia, but the claim was precluded on the basis of res judicata. Chichakli v. Obama, 617 Fed.App'x 3, *3-4 (D.C. Cir. 2015). President Obama signed Executive Order No. 13, 710 on November 12, 2015, which terminated the Liberian crisis' emergency status and, with it, Chichakli from the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons lists. See Exec. Order No. 13, 710, 80 Fed. Reg. 71, 679 (Nov. 12, 2015). Shortly thereafter, the United Nations Security Council ended the bulk of its sanctions against Liberia.

         Chichakli, proceeding pro se, filed the complaint below on July 20, 2015, seeking damages and injunctive relief. J.A. 6, 22-24.[2] He alleged that OFAC violated the Privacy Act when it published his personal information online and when it transmitted the information to the State Department. J.A. 6-7. Chichakli also alleged that the State Department violated the Act by transmitting his personal information to the United Nations. J.A. 7. He claimed that, as a result of the publication of his personal information, he was a victim of identity theft. J.A. 8. He alleged that multiple bank accounts were opened in his name, and the opening of new accounts harmed his credit score, leaving him unable "to ...

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